Review of QUB Food Integrity ASSET 2014 Conference

Written by: John Spink

Primary Source: Food Fraud Initiative

Queen's University Belfast

Queen’s University Belfast

Food Integrity and Food Fraud were key focus areas at the recent ‘Food Integrity and Traceability Conference’  ( ) hosted by Queen’s University Belfast. I was invited as a Keynote Speaker to cover Food Fraud Prevention.  Four 5-minute videos were created to cover the key concepts, including the Food Fraud prevention focus in China.

There was a very interesting range of presentations that provided broad insight on the research, including food authenticity testing, enforcement operations, public policy making, and the integrated role of the public-private partnership in Food Fraud prevention.

Food Fraud – a Serious Global Issue in 2014

Professor Christopher Elliott was interviewed and made these statements: “Food Fraud is cheating. … Food Fraud can take many guises and the best known is adulteration or substitution. …  But there are many, many other types of Food Fraud. … Then there are the more complex types of fraud such as foods sold as fair trade, organic, or other sustainable food supplies. … You need to think about how science can take a role in detecting these crimes.”  When talking about the culture change he sees underway within companies he stated: “Detection is very nice but you really need to put measures in place to prevent fraudsters from trying to operate within your supply chain.” Here is a link  to the video interview:  (Note: Professor Elliott is the lead researcher for the UK Elliott Review of Food Fraud, which is funded by the UK government to propose their response.)

China Addressing Food Fraud

I’ve been interacting with several agencies within China and two key partners are Dr. Junshi Chen and Dr. Yongning Wu from the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment. Dr. Chen presented at this conference.  He stated: “All the regulatory agencies around the world including China  are now taking this food fraud or food adulteration very seriously.  It is a very high priority on their agendas.” Here is a link  to the video interview:,2,3,4

MSU’s Food Fraud Initiative

I had the opportunity to address some of the questions that came up at the conference.  Specifically regarding Food Fraud Prevention, there was interest in the role of Food Science/ Food Authenticity testing, and in the difference between the US-centric “Economically Motivated Adulteration” and the more global term of “Food Fraud.” I also was asked to address the role of law enforcement, such as the Interpol/Europol Operation Opson.  Here is a link  to the video interview:,2,3,4.

I would specifically like to thank Professor Christopher Elliott and the Institute for Global Food Security for including me in this conference and for the excellent conference.  This created an opportunity for us to strengthen our current relationships and to connect with new colleagues.  Immediate results for me were that we advanced a few of our journal articles and we found several new collaborative grant opportunities.  I kept my Belfast city maps since it looks like I’ll be heading back sooner rather than later.  JWS.

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John Spink
Dr. Spink has been focused on product fraud since the Michigan State University’s Food Safety Program and the School of Packaging began research on the topic in 2006. This work expanded to the behavioral sciences and criminology and led to the establishment of the Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection Initiative in 2008. In 2009 the work shifted to the School of Criminal Justice where the Initiative evolved into a Program.