John Keogh of Big News Network writes that the globalization of the food chain has resulted in increased complexity and diminished transparency and trust into how and where our foods are grown, harvested, processed and by whom.
But this homily – we knew our grower so it must be safer – has no basis in factor data.
It’s like washing produce: It might make you feel better, but microbiologically, it does shit.
While the extent of global food fraud is difficult to quantify, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) suggests food fraud affects 10 per cent of commercially sold food. Various academic and industry sources suggest that globally, food fraud ranges from US$10 billion to $49 billion. This is likely a conservative range considering estimates of fake Australian meats alone and sold worldwide are as high as AUD$4 billion, or more than US$2.5 billion.
If you add the sales of fake wines and alcohol, adulterated honey and spices, mislabelled fish and false claims of organic products, wild-caught fish or grain-fed
As social media amplifies recurring high-profile incidents of food fraud, trust in our global food supply chains remains a concern. For the foreseeable future, much of Canada’s food fraud remains hidden in plain sight, sitting right there on our grocery store shelves.
Henry Martin of the Daily Mail reports a UK doctor who made £72,000 signing more than 400 bogus sick notes for his wife’s legal firm has been struck off the medical register.
Dr Zuber Bux, 47, filled in false illness reports from holidaymakers claiming compensation from travel firms through his solicitor wife Sehana’s law business.
Over four years Dr Bux, a GP from Blackburn, Lancashire, made about £72,000 writing more than 400 reports but did not inform holiday companies or the courts that his wife worked for AMS, the law firm that instructed him.
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announced that 49-year-old Timothy Bean of Hamburg has been sentenced by Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case to 3 years of probation. As part of his sentence, he must perform 200 hours of community service.
The defendant admitted that he falsified food safety reports while working as a Public Health Sanitarian for the Erie County Department of Health between November 16, 2018 through December 14, 2018.
Bean pleaded guilty to 14 counts of Official Misconduct, Class “A” misdemeanors, on June 4, 2019.
Ms. Yang in the southern China port city of Guangzhou bought six high priced giant tiger prawns in October—she was happy with the purchase until she found gel inside the heads of the prawns.
Juliet Song of NTD writes that such gel, the presence of which is not typically detectable upon superficial inspection, is injected some time between when the shrimp are caught and when they’re sold, in order to add weight and thus earn a greater profit. Shrimp sold live have not been injected, because the injection would kill the shrimp.
Chinese food authorities have not been particularly active in pursuing the cases brought to their attention, according to interviews and news reports, and there is not even a consensus at which point in the production line the operation takes place.
China is the third-largest exporter of seafood to the United States, and it also exports significant amounts of shrimp and catfish, representing 2 of the 10 most consumed seafood products in the country. Nearly $150 million worth of shrimp were imported from China between January and October 2015, according to data by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The problem of adulterated shrimp has persisted for over a decade, despite new cases regularly reported in the Chinese press. Some of the first well-publicized cases of the gel-injected shrimp appeared in 2005, the same year in which the municipal government of Tianjin launched a strike-hard campaign against shrimp injectors. The report, which referred to the campaign gave no details about how many were arrested, or whether the shrimp adulteration rings were broken.
It is unclear how much, or if any of the gel-injected shrimp make their way to these shores, but food safety experts said there is reason to be concerned. The Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert on Dec. 11, 2015, about the “presence of new animals drugs and/or unsafe food additives” from seafood imported in China, including shrimp.
Wu Wenhui, a professor at Shanghai Ocean University, said in an interview in the Chinese press that customers should be wary about industrial gel ending up in shrimp, given that it’s cheaper than the edible version. “Industrial gel is used for furniture, print, and contains many heavy metals such as lead and mercury, which harms the liver and blood, and is even carcinogenic.”
But the act of injection is itself potentially unsafe.
“Even if what was injected was edible gel, which may not itself be harmful, who can guarantee that the process is aseptic?” said Liu Huiping, a member of the executive council of the Tianjin aquatic products association, in an interview with the Beijing News.
In the late 1990s, as on-farm food safety programs started to gain traction at the producer end – and a requirement by retailers – I had a couple of memorable conversations.
Genetically engineered Bt-corn was introduced in 1996 and growers loved it. But powerful technology requires powerful management so at least 20 per cent of a corn field had to be non-Bt-corn — a refuge — to stall the development of resistance. A grower told me he didn’t pay attention to that, his neighbor was his refuge.
At an informal meeting of chicken producers, one told me the paperwork wasn’t onerous, he sat down by the fire on Friday nights and filled out a week’s worth.
I told him it was supposed to be in real time.
But neither of these examples are as a Stafford Springs meat supplier who pled guilty to fabricating E. coli test results in federal court.
Officials told Doug Stewart of Fox 61 Memet Beqiri, also known as Matt Beqiri, 32, of Tolland, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty Tuesday in Hartford federal court to a charge related to his meat processing business’s falsification of numerous E. coli test results.
Beqiri pleaded guilty to one count of making and using a false document and aiding and abetting, a charge that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 12, 2019. Beqiri was released on a $25,000 bond.
Ryan J. Woolf, the attorney for Matt Beqiri, said his client was made aware of the issue and worked to rectify the situation. He also said this will “never happen again,” and that “no injuries, illness resulted from this issue.”
Beqiri is the owner and general manager of New England Meat Packing, LLC, in Stafford Springs.
Officials said the company is required to perform one generic E. coli carcass swab for every 300 animals slaughtered and to periodically collect ground beef samples for E. coli testing.
Officials said, “Between November 3, 2016 and September 9, 2017, Beqiri authorized the preparation and submission in the company’s Lab Sample Report binder, which the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) reviews, a total of 36 documents relating to 52 separate carcass swabs and ground beef samples on behalf of New England Meat Packing. The 36 documents were each on the letterhead of a certified laboratory that tests food product samples to ensure safety and wholesomeness and signed by the laboratory director. The documents stated that the required E. coli testing of samples submitted by New England Meat Packing had been conducted and completed, and that all 52 samples tested negative for E. coli. In fact, none of the 52 carcass swabs and samples had been submitted or tested by the identified laboratory, or any other laboratory, and the 36 documents were fraudulently prepared using laboratory letterhead obtained from previous testing that New England Meat Packing had conducted with that laboratory.”
Officials said Beqiri admitted to an investigator with USDA’s FSIS that the documents were fraudulent, and that his business did not collect and submit the samples to the certified laboratory because he did not correlate the potential impact on food safety with his sampling program and wanted to create the appearance he was compliant with all USDA HACCP testing requirements.
There have been no known instances of illnesses reported by anyone who consumed the meat in any of the states where the meat was distributed, according to officials.
For years I’ve told my five daughters the same thing: when someone says “trust me” walk – no run – away. Trust is earned.
And there’s far too much faith-based food safety.
A judge on Friday sentenced the mastermind of the largest known organic food fraud scheme in U.S. history to 10 years in prison, saying he cheated thousands of customers into buying products they didn’t want.
Ryan Foley of Global News cited U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams as saying Randy Constant orchestrated a massive fraud that did “extreme and incalculable damage” to consumers and shook public confidence in the nation’s organic food industry.
Williams said that, between 2010 and 2017, consumers nationwide were fooled into paying extra to buy products ranging from eggs to steak that they believed were better for the environment and their own health. Instead, they unwittingly purchased food that relied on farming practices, including the use of chemical pesticides to grow crops, that they opposed.
“Thousands upon thousands of consumers paid for products they did not get and paid for products they did not want,” Williams said. “This has caused incalculable damage to the confidence the American public has in organic products.”
Williams said the scam harmed other organic farmers who were playing by the rules but could not compete with the low prices offered by Constant’s Iowa-based grain brokerage, and middlemen who unknowingly purchased and marketed tainted organic grain.
Williams ordered Constant, a 60-year-old farmer and former school board president from Chillicothe, Missouri, to serve 122 months in federal prison, as his wife and other relatives sobbed.
Earlier in the day, Williams gave shorter prison terms to three Overton, Nebraska, farmers whom Constant recruited to join the scheme. Williams described the three as largely law-abiding citizens, including one “legitimate war hero,” who succumbed to greed when Constant gave them the opportunity.
Michael Potter, 41, was ordered to serve 24 months behind bars; James Brennan, 41, was sentenced to 20 months; and his father, 71-year-old Tom Brennan, was given a three-month sentence. Williams said the shorter sentence for the elder Brennan reflected his heroism as a decorated platoon leader in the Vietnam War.
All four farmers sentenced Friday had pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges and co-operated with a two-year investigation that isn’t over. A fifth farmer has also pleaded guilty in the case and is awaiting sentencing.
The farmers grew traditional corn and soybeans, mixed them with a small amount of certified organic grains, and falsely marketed them all as certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most of the grains were sold as animal feed to companies that marketed organic meat and meat products.
The farmers reaped more than $120 million in proceeds from sales of the tainted grain. The scheme may have involved up to 7 per cent of organic corn grown in the U.S. in 2016 and 8 per cent of the organic soybeans, prosecutors said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob Schunk said that under the scheme, consumers paid at least $250 million for fraudulent organic products _ and perhaps $1 billion or more. He said that Constant for years exploited an organic certification system that relies on the honesty of farmers and private certifiers.
“He saw the weakness in the system and he exploited it over and over again,” Schunk said.
Constant said that he took full responsibility for his crime and he apologized to his family and the grain merchants, farmers, ranchers and consumers whom he ripped off.
“The organic industry in this country is built in trust and I violated that trust,” he said.
Dutch News reports government and organic food label inspectors identified 68 companies which have been selling or trading products labeled as organic which broke the rules, RTL Nieuws.
In some cases the companies earned tens of thousands of euros selling non-organic coffee, meat, chocolate and vegetables as organic even though they did not meet the proper standards, RTL said. The broadcaster bases its claim on an analysis of reports made to the two watchdogs covering the sector between 2015 and 2018. In total, 58 cases involved ‘misleading’ the public and the remaining 10 were more serious fraud offences, RTL said.
‘These are not incidents,’ VU University criminologist Wim Huisman told the broadcaster. ‘This shows that there is a substantial problem and that it is happening systematically.’
“People who buy organic food pay a higher price for produce which is animal and environment friendly” (more bullshit) food scientist Gertjan Schaafsma said. ‘If there is fraud, these people are being ripped off.’
A spokesman for the NVWA told RTL that the agency does not have enough staff to tackle all the fraud involving organic food. Priority, therefore, is given to cases which have implications for food safety.
“We’ve been doing seafood fraud studies for a decade,” said Prof. Robert Hanner, lead author and associate director for the Canadian Barcode of Life Network. “We know there are problems. But this is the first study to move beyond that and look at where the problems are happening throughout the food supply chain.”
The findings reveal that mislabelling happens before fish are imported into Canada, as well as throughout the supply chain, Hanner added.
“It seems it’s not isolated to foreign markets, but it’s also happening at home. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has partnered with us to actively find solutions to this persistent problem,” said Hanner.
Published recently in the journal Food Research International, the study was conducted in collaboration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Hanner is the associate Director for the Canadian Barcode of Life Network, headquartered at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, University of Guelph.
U of G researchers examined 203 samples from 12 key targeted species collected from various importers, processing plants and retailers in Ontario. Of the samples, 141 (69.5 per cent) were from retailers, 51 (25 per cent) from importers and 11 (5.5 per cent) from processing plants.
Researchers identified the samples using DNA barcoding. Developed at U of G, DNA barcoding allows scientists to determine species of organisms using a short, standardized region of genetic material.
The findings revealed 32 per cent of the samples overall were mislabelled. The mislabelling rate was 17.6 per cent at the import stage, 27.3 per cent at processing plants and 38.1 per cent at retailers.
After the incident, Osborne put the blueberry and thumbtack inside a ziplock bag and notified supermarket staff, who he said had handled the complaint well.
Osborne said his mother-in-law had bought the punnet of blueberries from Pak’nSave in Pāpāmoa on January 21.
He had posted his find on Facebook to warn people about checking their fruit thoroughly before eating it.
A Foodstuffs spokesperson said the company had been notified about the incident and an investigation was under way.
“The batch has been pulled from store shelves and we are going through our stringent investigative process,” she said.
“The outcome of the investigation will be referred to the authorities for their review and support.”
The find was the latest in a series of sharp objects finds in produce around New Zealand.
Foreign objects in fruit and vege in 2018: December: Pin found in strawberry bought at Pak’nSave Cameron Rd November: Needle found in a capsicum bought at Countdown Bureta November: Needle found inside a punnet of strawberries purchased at a supermarket in the South Island in November September: Three needles found in three strawberries in one imported punnet of Australian Choice brand strawberries at Countdown St Lukes in Auckland
New Zealand Food Safety advice: If you see something out of the ordinary, please take it to your retailer or give us a call on 0800 00 83 33.