Thursday, February 18, 2010

Newsweek: Food Fraud $49 Billion A Year Industry

Secure Pharma Chain Blog routinely reports on pharmaceutical counterfeits and product fraud. This blog post touches on another huge consumer issue, food counterfeiting. The following is an excerpt on a recent article in Newsweek.

Jeneen Interlandi writes an extremely pertinent and interesting article on the counterfeit food industry which appeared in the February 8th online edition of Newsweek.

This story chronicles the issue, its history and ongoing efforts to combat this $49 billion dollar a year crime. Interestingly,
if you combine the food and pharmaceutical counterfeiting industries they represent overall a $124 billion annual threat to industry, supply chains and consumers around the globe.

Here are some interesting pieces from the Newsweek article

· When the FBI dubbed counterfeiting “the crime of the 21st century” they weren't just talking about Prada handbags and Rolex watches. The counterfeit food industry is worth about $49 billion a year, according to the World Customs Institute, and it involves everything from fine food to boxed fruit juice. "Products are moving around the world so fast now that there is just ample opportunity," says John Spink, a food-fraud expert at Michigan State University. "And the demand for inexpensive food virtually guarantees that the problem will persist and grow."
· Food fraud, which typically means the intentional adulteration of food with cheaper ingredients for economic gain, has a long, fascinating history in both the U.S. and Europe, as documented in the excellent book
Swindled: The Dark History of Food Fraud, from Poisoned Candy to Counterfeit Coffee. But because such fraud occupies an awkward gap between food safety (which deals with accidental food contamination) and food defense or bioterrorism (which deals with intentional corruption of the food supply by terrorist groups), it hasn't received much attention.
· In 2008, Chinese officials reported that milk adulterated with melamine—a chemical that makes the milk appear to have higher protein content—caused 900 infants to be hospitalized for kidney problems. When six of those babies died, a media firestorm shone a spotlight on food fraud in China and touched off a wave of panic in the United States.

As reported on repeatedly in Secure Pharma Chain Blog, adulterated, fraudulent and counterfeit products continue to proliferate and now constitute a significant threat to industry, commerce and the health and welfare of consumers everywhere. This threat demands solutions that require technologies, regulation and enforcement across the globe to protect us all. The greatest fear is that this threat will grow beyond a criminal act and evolve into an issue of national health and security.

To read the Newsweek article, visit:

To learn more about robust anti-counterfeit technologies, visit:

No comments: