Reports from VIV Europe 2018

Fight against feed fraud: Awareness and recognition needed

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Companies operating in the feed sector should develop a roadmap to assess vulnerability to fraud, says GMP+ International.

The organization behind food and feed safety certification scheme ran an awareness raising seminar on how to prevent fraud in the feed supply chain as part of the conference program at VIV Europe 2018 in Utrecht last week.

Els van der Boon, team manager, standards & FSP, at GMP+ International, said the organization wanted to ensure confidence in the feed industry globally. It launched its feed fraud prevention initiative last year. “This is the next step in feed safety assurance.”

She stressed the importance of promoting an open culture in feed companies, encouraging conversations about fraud in the company in an effort to create awareness about product adulteration in the supply chain, saying it is vital to ‘know the norms’ in relation to ingredient specification, and quality but, also, in terms of labels and certifications.

“The feed trade is global and complex, and because of that the industry is vulnerable to fraud. Feed fraud can also have an effect on the safety of food.”

It is all about trust and that is linked to the level of confidence in the feed industry, she said.

Companies must act on signals and investigate, said van der Boon.

“Prepare your organization and know what to do.”

Opportunities for fraud

Professor Saskia van Ruth, who heads up the Food Authenticity and Nutrients group at RIKILT Wageningen UR, spoke about the opportunities that need to exist for fraud to take place.

The ease of adulteration of certain types of products and the general availability of knowledge and technology to adulterate in a particular chain will increase a sector's vulnerability to fraud, she said.

Products in a specific physical state, for example, liquids, are more susceptible to fraud than others, said the fraud specialist.

The availability or absence of detection methods affects the general fraud vulnerability as well, she said.

Increase in the complexity of a supply chain network will enhance fraud vulnerability, since it usually decreases the transparency of the network, she continued.

Supply and pricing, product attributes resulting in added value, differences in pricing due to regulatory diversity in countries, economic health of businesses, level of competition and financial strains imposed on suppliers are economic aspects create opportunities for fraud, argued van Ruth.

When gaps exist between physical product availability and market demand and prices shift due to regional or global supply shortages, fraud vulnerability will also increase, she explained. Shortages may not only lead to increase of pricing but can also lead to a failure of fulfilling contracts with customers with fraud becoming a last resort for economic survival. 

Risk based approach

Finally, the GMP+ seminar saw a joint presentation from Trouw Nutrition experts: Peter Fidder, director of quality affairs, and Hans van der Heuvel, quality affairs manager. They outlined that company’s own risk-based approach to preventing feed fraud. 

Nutrace is Trouw Nutrition's food safety and quality program, developed to help minimize its customers' exposure to risks.

The program has five pillars, aimed at safeguarding the manufacture of high-quality feeds from high quality raw materials, including:

Certification​ against international safety and quality standards and strict internal procedures form the basis of consistent sourcing, formulation, production, storage and logistics.

Ingredients and supplier assessment​, involving continuous ingredient and supplier assessment to ensure only safe and sustainable raw materials are used in the production of animal feeds.

Global monitoring and control systems​ to prevent the presence of undesirable substances in its products.

Risk management procedure​s to ensure an effective and professional response should the need arise, and

Tracking and tracing systems​ to guarantee rapid, efficient information flows between Nutreco, its suppliers and customers.

Fidder said it is, of course, critical for a company to know its supply chain, for it to look at its key suppliers, where it has big volumes.

“Communication along the supply chain is key."

A risk based approach is essential as a company cannot analyze everything, he added. Such an approach would consider the importance of a particular ingredient, the volumes that are used, the company’s exposure to that ingredient, whether it is used in all its finished products, in some key products or just a single product.

Trouw Nutrition has operational laboratories in all its facilities, explained van der Heuvel, but state of the art certified third party laboratories also carry out qualitative and quantitative analysis of ingredients for the company, he said.

Its near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy network measures approximate chemistry, protein, etc.

“All our facilities have a NIR machine in place,”​ said van der Heuvel.

Such technology allows Trouw Nutrition to calculate on the basis of the real values in the raw materials and produce consistent products, they said.

The NIR discriminate tool means the animal nutrition company can generate spectra from all the ingredients and compare loads to previous shipments. “We bring the lab environment to the sample,” ​they said.

But the company is also developing new assessment techniques, beyond NIR, including X-ray fluorescent (XRF) analyzers or hand-held machines, explained Fidder.

Mycotoxins, today, for example, are measured by tools such as Mycomaster.”​  

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