High-Tech Tools for Fighting Food Fraud

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Beaver Street GrouperOne reason that food fraud remains prevalent is that the differences between the fraudulent foods and genuine articles are often subtle, requiring careful, reliable testing and analysis. The industry is constantly searching for easier, faster, more reliable ways to detect food fraud.

DNA testing has been a fixture of prime-time TV for years, but its usefulness extends beyond police dramas. Sysco uses DNA testing to verify accurate labeling of specific seafood species. Our quality assurance program relies on expert analysis by a qualified laboratory that is well-established as a leader in seafood authentication. Test samples are compared to a comprehensive DNA database for positive, scientific identification. Sysco won’t call it a grouper unless it looks like a grouper, tastes like a grouper AND has grouper DNA.

Isotope analysis can authenticate food products based on their specific chemical signatures. Honey, for example, can be diluted with other ingredients such as cane sugar or corn syrup. But isotope analysis can detect the chemical differences between pure and diluted honey, which allows us to confirm that it meets Sysco specifications.

The Food Fraud Database (www.foodfraud.org) is a comprehensive list of common economically motivated adulterants maintained by the United States Pharmacopeia Convention (USP), a scientific non-profit organization that sets standards for the identity and purity of food ingredients. The database helps our quality-control experts evaluate existing and emerging risks and trends for economically motivated adulteration, authenticity, counterfeiting, and other fraud issues. It also provides a library of detection methods for managing the risk of food fraud.

Regulatory import alerts and refusals are routinely monitored by Sysco Quality Assurance to monitor relevant actions taken by agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These tools provide detailed information on food products, surveillance methods and companies targeted for fraudulent practices in the distribution channels.

Advanced logistics, supply-chain management and traceability also play important roles in fighting food fraud. Our rigorous supplier approval process is designed to identify trustworthy, dependable supply sources that share our commitment to product quality and brand integrity. We also maintain thorough checks to ensure that all items are accurately measured and properly labeled.

Sysco utilizes innovative approaches like these to ensure the quality and reliability of our products — from our suppliers to your doors.