Food Fraud

Food Fraud

The fight against Food Fraud is an EU priority aimed at keeping the highest food safety standards. Our food has never been safer.

What is Food Fraud?

There is no EU harmonised definition for "food fraud". However, the lack of a harmonised definition does not prevent the Commission and the EU countries from taking coordinated action against "fraudulent practices" in the food supply chain. It is broadly accepted that food fraud covers cases where there is a violation of EU food law, which is committed intentionally to pursue an economic or financial gain through consumer deception.

The 4 operational criteria for Food Fraud:

  1. Violation of EU Food Law
  2. Intention
  3. Economic Gain
  4. Deception of Customers

European cooperation

Currently, Food fraud might be seen as an appealing activity, given its following aspects:

  • High profit (e.g. counterfeiting) with lower sanctions

  • Lower priority from police/judicial authorities (compared to drug/weapon/cigarette smuggling)

  • Attracting growing interest of organised crime

This is why the cooperation between the different services is so important. It is imperative to enhance collaboration/trust between different services within the EU countries and at an European level, namely:

  • Food experts (inspectors)
  • Police/Customs (with investigative powers)
  • Justice

Before the horse meat crisis, EU networks were already in place to coordinate and exchange information with Police/Customs (Europol/OLAF) and with Eurojust, but not with Food Fraud experts.

This situation changed in July 2013, with the creation of the EU Food Fraud Network (FFN).

Cooperative approach based on trust

Ongoing Actions and Challenges

Current Initiatives

Since the Horse meat crisis in 2013, the main initiatives intended to enhance the EU control system as a whole for detecting and countering frauds in the food chain have been as follows:

  • Creation of an EU Food Fraud Network composed by representatives from the European Commission and all EU countries and Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, for a more efficient cross-border administrative assistance and cooperation
  • Development of a dedicated IT tool, the Administrative Assistance and Cooperation System (AAC), to enable the members of the network to rapidly exchange information on potential cases of cross-border fraud. The system has been operational since November 2015
  • Organisation of specialised training (in the framework of Better Training for Safer Food initiative) for food inspectors, police and customs officers and judicial authorities of the EU countries, concerning new investigation/control techniques related to food fraud (including eCommerce). Five trainings are held each year
  • Coordinated Control Plans at EU level
  • The new Official Controls Regulation (OCR)

challenges for 2017