Even honest food processors who do everything right can still get caught up in food fraud. All it takes is just one unscrupulous supplier or even suffering the misfortune of innocently sharing a facility. This was the case for Niman Ranch, a meat supplier that suffered $6.3 million in losses and struggled to get credit simply because they processed their meat at the same facility as Rancho Feeding Corp, whose owner, along with other higher ups, were found guilty of numerous food fraud offences and sentenced to jail time.
Food fraud occurs when products are deliberately adulterated for economic gain, and with some products like honey and olive oil, it is all too common. Not only does food fraud put public health at risk, but the risk is highly contagious to other companies down the supply chain.
Food businesses that use Icicle, the food and cannabis ERP system, are protected by a critical layer of technology that helps ensure that their products are safe and genuine.
Icicle Helps You Ensure Your Vendors Are Legitimate
In recent years, the Global Food Safety Initiative (along with government agencies) began incorporating a new assessment requirement (VACCP) into their prerequisite programs, specifically aimed at assessing and controlling food fraud. These assessments determine the likelihood of vendors (also called suppliers) committing food fraud and aim to peel back the layers of the supply chain, especially for imported food. All food imported into the United States through the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (under FSMA) is now required to undergo these assessments.
Icicle helps you make informed decisions to protect your business. Not only does Icicle automate the process of vetting your vendors, the technology also enables you to easily create vulnerability assessments.
Imagine you’ve just started working with a new vendor. How do they work? With Icicle, you can fill out a vendor assessment that asks you a number of questions to help you decide whether this vendor is safe to work with. Questions such as “How long have you been working with this vendor?” and “Is food fraud endemic in their country?” are answered. Then Icicle generates a weighted risk rating that gives establishments confidence in their vendors and enables them to carry out detailed risk assessments in areas where risk is highest (this could be in countries where food fraud is more prevalent, for example).
Permission controls can be set within Icicle so that orders can’t be issued to vendors until the appropriate people within your organization have vetted them. This allows you to avoid receiving products from unapproved vendors, helping convince auditors that your supply chain is sound.
Keep Vendor Certifications Up to Date Automatically
Icicle also helps you monitor your existing vendors and easily keep track of their certifications with our Vendor Management feature. Whether a vendor is foreign or domestic, the ability to see that there is regular third-party verification within their facility gives you confidence that they are complying with regulations.
Users can record vendors’ certifications, record their expiry dates, and set up reminders to make sure they receive all the updated information before the previous certification expires. For example, a user may choose to look at certifications that are expiring within 30 days. In Icicle, they can send out mass reminders. This simple function makes it easy for businesses to keep their records up to date and reduces the need for lengthy paperwork.
With all this information available at your fingertips, Icicle’s intelligent software can help to reduce audit times significantly. Auditors and inspectors can even access your data remotely if you grant them access, a functionality which helps to reduce unnecessary social contact during the pandemic.
Easily Carry Out Food Fraud Vulnerability Assessments and QC Checks on High-Risk Ingredients
Some ingredients pose a higher risk of food fraud than others. Honey is a well-known example, with research suggesting that up to 80% of Manuka honey sold worldwide is fraudulently labelled. Food fraud technology is incredibly advanced and some companies are able to fool almost any test. For example, chemists in China have been known to use ultra-filtration or ultra-purification processes to mask the origins of honey, sometimes mixing it with a small amount of pollinated honey from India to throw off testers or even feeding corn syrup to bees to make their fake honey seem more natural.
With Icicle, users are able to carry out ingredient vulnerability assessments to highlight specific ingredients that could pose a risk of food fraud and then check those ingredients against predefined product specifications. Certain ingredients can be held in QA Hold until they have passed quality assurance tests, ensure that nothing makes its way into your product that hasn’t been approved
The assessment is similar to the vendor assessment for suppliers, although the questions have a different focus. Using honey as an example, a question might be “Would it be relatively easy to substitute or adulterate the product with a cheaper alternative or filler?” Since honey is often diluted or substituted with corn-syrup derivatives, you would mark the risk highs. The next question could be, “Is there a history of food fraud for this product?” Since the answer in this case is also yes, you would also score it highly.
After completing the assessment, Icicle then generates a weighted risk rating that can be used to determine the likelihood of food fraud for this product. Carrying out Icicle’s detailed vendor and ingredient vulnerability assessments will enable you to gain increased visibility of the both supplier and the product, helping you to choose the right vendors and minimize risk.
Test Your Products to Give Your Customers Confidence with Icicle’s Laboratory Management
As well as giving you confidence in your suppliers, Icicle’s food fraud vulnerability features allow you to demonstrate to your customers and auditors that your product meets the necessary specifications. Quality control checks can be carried out during production, enabling you to easily generate Certificates of Analysis (CoAs). These CoAs then accompany your product when you ship, giving customers confidence in your relationship.
Icicle can be used to record the results of lab tests in Icicle’s Laboratory Management module.
Steven Crutchfield of Italian olive oil manufacturer Villa Cappelli explains how using Icicle has helped them prove the authenticity of their product to both consumers and auditors alike:
“Part of our job now is to educate the consumer about our products. Investigations have shown that up to 70% of extra virgin olive oil is not what it is supposed to be. Companies add seed oil and chemicals and mix with lower-grade olive oil. Even when a bottle is labelled “Italian Olive Oil,” this might not be the case. It’s technically legal to use Tunisian or Spanish olive oil and call it Italian if it’s bottled in Italy. Because we’re educated now, we can educate our consumers about the process. It helps that we have all our documentation ready and that we have the FDA seal of approval.”Steven Crutchfield, Villa Cappelli
To find out how Icicle could help you safeguard your business from food fraud, get in touch and request a free demo >>