As food supply chains have become increasingly global and complex new and challenging risks have emerged. While food fraud is usually considered to be for economic gain, recent cases have highlighted significant food safety concerns.
For example, melamine, which was added to milk and infant formula in China, showed how the addition of an adulterant introduced a cancer-causing toxin into the food chain. Also, fraudulent replacement of authentic food substances with ingredients which is unfit for consumption or different to that described, can also threaten human health. A prime example of this is the swapping of one fish species with another that may be riddled with contaminants or allergens. In such cases, food fraud can also led to the reduction in the quality of the end product resulting in lost source credibility, trust and sales, as demonstrated from the UK horsemeat scandal.
The main aim of the project will be to investigate current and future vulnerabilities to fraud and criminality in food supply chains and find ways of improving the collection and exchange of information on food fraud detection so that fraud opportunities and suitable proactive, preventative controls and countermeasures can be identified within a framework of global governance and international political economy.
To do this the project partners will take an interdisciplinary approach to food fraud using theories and methods from psychology, political economy, sociology, anthropology, criminology and law. The innovative approach will foster close collaborations between natural and social scientists, who will utilise the best methods from their respective disciplines to achieve the proposed objectives.