We live in a time when everything seems connected and accessible and good. People and businesses and organizations, aided by savvy internet marketing, have become really good at presenting a good story about who they are and what they can do/make/fix/service/repair/prevent/manage/direct/store/protect/deliver. But perception is not always reality. Spend 8 contiguous hours with someone, and you’ll get a sense – spend 4 straight on the factory flood and you’ll know exactly who they are and what they are about, and how authentic they are.
It’s been estimated that nearly 60 million Facebook accounts and 48 million Twitter accounts are fake , amounting to being just automated bots that boost profile views, clicks, and status. Many social media profiles use click farms to boost their numbers and appear to be more popular than they actually are. Indeed, the pressure to present yourself as being something far more than you are is alluring.
The food production system is not immune to such false pretense. Food fraud is happening and eroding quality, and we need to get focused and serious about possible attempts for economic or other forms of adulteration of food.
We have lived through high-profile incidents of food fraud like melamine in pet food. It’s not always about economic adulteration. The Johnsonville Sausage worker who intentionally contaminated product with cigarette paper on one occasion and metal wire a few days later pretended to have found the offending bits of trash himself after reporting on the contamination to his superiors, as per the criminal complaint. Just what were his motives? Who can tell, and I don’t think we should concern ourselves too much with motives. We should put our energy and minds into designing rigorous prevention strategies.
If you are a GFSI certified company, you have to have a food fraud and food defense policy and plan. That means you need a real team meeting at some frequency. Use that opportunity to really consider how your supplier network could hurt your business – and how you can combat that. Use that meeting to really find the risk points for intentional adulteration throughout your production and distribution systems.