‘More awareness is needed on feed fraud’

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© istock
© istock

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GMP+ International says the feed sector needs to be as alert as the horsemeat-hit food industry has shown itself to be in recent years in relation to fraud in the supply chain.

The organization, which owns and manages the GMP+ certification scheme for the feed sector, is calling for more awareness in relation to feed fraud.

We spoke to Johan den Hartog, managing director of GMP+ International. He told us the organization is currently reviewing how it its accreditation program could take account of fraudulent activities in a more comprehensive manner.

The topic of fraud is not a specific element of GMP+ feed safety assurance certification, unless it has direct and concrete consequences for the safety of feed.

“Real fraud is hard to uncover and understand. It is often done in such a way as to go undetected. So we want to raise the bar, we want to improve the level of control in terms of feed fraud.”

Pilot program

GMP+ International has just initiated an evaluation process with Dutch feed companies in this regard.

“Last week, we carried out a one day training session with 17 feed companies – ingredient suppliers and compounders -based in the Netherlands to ascertain real world examples of fraud, to understand potential dangers, and to share best prevention practice.

“Participants were really motivated.

“We will run day two of the training pilot project in February next year, and will, subsequently, release a report on our findings. We would then hope to repeat the training program internationally, with both German and English language sessions, later in 2018.

“Eventually, the GMP+ feed safety assurance certification will reflect the learnings gleaned from those events.”

When you look to the majority of feed scandals in the past few years, they were due to fraud and not foreseeable risk, he said.

In the German dioxin crisis of 2011, for example, it is believed the contaminants found their way into the food chain when oil meant for use as a biofuel was substituted for vegetable fats in feed for chickens and pigs.

Signs of potential fraud

Companies must always remain alert, said den Hartog.

Signs of potential fraud in the feed supply chain include a product being offered at a price that is lower than the market value or if the product has a color or smell that deviates from the norm.

He said a study undertaken by the organization along with Saskia Ruth, professor of food authenticity at Wageningen University​,​ has shown that certain products, processes and regions are more vulnerable to fraud than other types - liquid products are easier to forge than solid products, for example.

“When companies have suspicions, they should always verify that documents are right, that the specifications are correct.”  ​This does not have to involve a lot of extra work. Companies with GMP+ feed safety assurance certification already have an infrastructure for crises in place, added den Hartog.

Feed fraud can include:

  • Dilution - the process of fraudulently mixing a product of high value with product of lower value.  
  • Substitution - the process of fraudulently replacing a product of high value with another product, or part of the product, of lower value.
  • Concealment - the process of fraudulently hiding the low quality of a product.
  • Mislabeling - the process of placing false claims or information on packaging or product documents.
  • Unapproved addition - the process of adding unknown and undeclared substances that are not approved for addition to products, to improve the quality thereof.

Source: GMP+ D1.3 Feed Fraud Information document 3/18 Version: January 19 2017

The GMP+ feed safety assurance certification defines conditions relating to production facilities of feed, but also those for storage, transport, staff, procedures, and documentation.  

The scheme has 17,000 participating feed companies in 80 countries, including 700 feed compounders. “Participants, for example, include suppliers of feed ingredients, and premix producers or transport companies.”

GMP+ International has seen significant interest in feed safety in Asia in recent years:

“We see a growing awareness of the importance of feed safety for the safety of the final end meat product and the need for feed safety controls in China and South East Asia,” ​said den Hartog.


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