The taxing reality of Food Fraud on South Africa’s economy and consumer health

In early August, we created a post discussing the issue of food fraud. We spoke of how ISO 22000:2005 Food Safety Management Systems assists organisations in controlling various elements of the Food Supply Chain.

Carte Blanche recently aired a report about a popular South African butcher-chain that has been committing the illegal act of re-labelling food products. This report reinforced the importance of the issues faced by the food industry. Carte Blanche stated that the butcher-chain had been adjusting the sell-by dates on meat products and then proceeded to reshelve them. Risk ZA has decided to explore Food Fraud in further detail, looking into how the implementation of ISO 22000:2005 can curb this frightening reality.


What is Food Fraud?

Food Fraud is the act of purposely altering, misrepresenting, mislabeling, substituting or tampering with any food product, at any point along the farm to fork journey. This can occur in any phase of the process – in the raw material phase; with a particular ingredient in the final food product; or, in the packaging of the  food product. Well-known examples of Food Fraud would be Britain’s ‘Horsegate’ scandal in 2013, which exposed that horse meat was being used in a number of products, such as burgers and frozen lasagne. Other examples include honey that has been sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup; fish and chicken injected with brine; and, old, gray olives dipped in copper-sulfate solution to make them look fresh and green.

Food fraud is an intentional deception to consumers through any of the following, and more:

  • Dilution or additions to a raw material or food product
  • A misrepresentation of the material or food product
  • Intentional contamination through use of a variety of chemicals
  • A substitution of one product for another

The fraudulent tampering of foods is an issue of global proportions. It is estimated that Food Fraud can cost a legitimate food retailer a staggering R200 billion a year.


How can ISO 22000:2005 curb Food Fraud?

Food Fraud goes beyond the doctoring of ingredients – it can potentially claim lives. In China, powdered baby milk containing melamine lead to fatalities and thousands of infants falling ill.

It is for this reason that ISO decided to standardise food safety management requirements, on an international level.

ISO 22000:2005 assists companies in producing safe food and gaining the trust of its customers. The standard assists manufacturers in ensuring food safety, through traceability. It guarantees the origin of ingredients used in the products. ISO 22000:2005 requires transparency in and by organisations as product labelling must be explicit. An ISO 22000:2005 compliant company is committed to meeting high standards of food quality and safety.

ISO 22000:2005 – Food Safety Management Systems, deals directly with the management arrangements that an organisation must implement, in order to demonstrate its ability to control food safety hazards and potential risks. This ensures that products are safe for consumption. Organisations are also assured that their food production methods meet regulatory requirements and satisfy the demand for food quality, food safety and efficiency.


Revision to ISO 22000:2005

According to ISO, users along the supply chain have been facing new food safety challenges, since the first publication of ISO 22000 in 2005 – spurring a need for the standard to be revised.

The changes to this standard follow a similar pattern to that of the new ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 standards. Amongst the major proposed changes are the additions of the new High Level Structure, Risk-based thinking, the PDCA cycle and a clear description of the Operation Process. ISO 22000 was available for public consultation and voting, until 3 July 2017, whilst it existed in Draft International Standard (DIS) stage. It is expected to be released as an Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) version within the year, with the expected publication in June 2018.


The way forward

Whilst ISO 22000:2005 is a revolutionary standard that will assist in curbing the rise of food fraud, we as consumers still have to be vigilant when buying and consuming food products. Carte Blanche’s episode highlighted the need to properly check product’s labels and to confront the appropriate management about any possible food fraud that could be taking place.

Risk ZA offer a variety of courses for individuals and organisations wishing to introduce Food Safety Management systems and/or measures. Amongst our offerings are the following courses:

  • Awareness Level 1 English/Zulu/Xhosa
  • HACCP and PRPs
  • FSSC ISO 22000 Overview of requirements
  • Internal and Supplier Auditor, based on ISO 19011
  • Developing and Implementing a Food Safety Management System

Visit our website to see more information

Should you wish to understand more about Food Safety Management Systems or any of our courses, please contact our team by emailing or by giving us a call on +27 (0) 31 569 5900.

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