Food fraud may occur when food is misrepresented. It can pose serious health risks if, for example, unidentified allergens or hazardous materials are added to food products. It can also have an economic impact on the buyer (for example, paying for a product that is actually of lower quality).
Types of food fraud
Substituting a product with something of a different character or quality. For example, using horse meat instead of beef, or substituting Pollock for Cod.
Adulterating or diluting
Adulterating or diluting a product by mixing in other ingredients or elements and not declaring them on the label. For example, adding sugar syrup to honey, adding sunflower oil to olive oil, adding fillers to ground spices, or adding apple juice to pomegranate juice.
Mislabelling a product as something it's not. For example, labelling farmed Salmon as wild Salmon, or labelling apples as organic when they aren't certified as such. It could also include providing a false net quantity declaration (such as when the amount of food in the package is not accurately declared on the label).
Making false claims or misleading statements
Making false claims or misleading statements to make the product appear to be something that it isn't. For example, claiming a product is "preservative-free" when it contains preservatives, or is "sodium-free" when the thresholds aren't met.
Attention to food fraud is growing
In Canada, it's prohibited to sell food that is falsely labelled, but misrepresentation may still happen and is an emerging issue around the world.
It's hard to know exactly how much food fraud there is in Canada. Globally, all forms of food fraud are estimated to cost the global food industry between $10 and $15 billion per year, affecting about 10% of all commercially sold food products, according to the U.S. Grocery Manufacturers Association.
Worldwide, food fraud is reported most often in:
- olive oil
- dry spices
- fruit juices
- organic food products
Everyone has a role to play to combat food fraud
- CFIA's role in combatting food fraud
- Industry's role in combatting food fraud
- How food fraud impacts consumers
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