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Dealing with Food Fraud

A Review of Existing Definitions and Strategies for the Prevention of Food Fraud, Established in Legal Regulations Focusing on Germany’s Major Trading Partners

Aline Wisniewski, Anja Buschulte


Although food fraud has existed for ages it is difficult to estimate the extent of this problem as the number of documented cases is probably only a small fraction of its real dimension. In some cases food fraud can pose a serious risk to public health, as demonstrated by the melamine scandal in China 2008. However, even if there is no direct harm to human health, this form of deliberate fraud can lead to a loss of consumer confidence and economic distortions. Up to now there is unfortunately no legal definition of food fraud, either in the European Union or Germany, that describes this term in detail. Against this background the first part of this article provides an overview of the laws and regulations in Germany and the European Union that are intended to protect consumers against food fraud. For this purpose, a literature search was carried out to identify relevant legal requirements related to food fraud and the authorities responsible for combating this crime. The most important legislations in Germany are the German Food and Feed Code, Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 (GFL) and Regulation (EU) 2017/625. This article examines whether there is a definition of food fraud in Germany or Europe and aims to estimate if the existing legislation is appropriate for protecting the health and interests of consumers effectively.

Aline Wisniewski is a specialist in German studies and a Veterinarian and has been researching in the field of food fraud at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment since 2016. Dr. med. vet. Anja Buschulte, EBVS® European Specialist in Veterinary Public Health, works as a Senior Scientist at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.

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