Honig Groß

Ho­ney Ho­ney, how you fool me!

Say good­bye to food fraud: A re­vo­lu­ti­on in the food in­dus­try

Two ta­b­les­poons: That’s the to­tal amount of ho­ney a sin­gle bee can pro­du­ce du­ring its en­ti­re life­time. It’s not sur­pri­sing that smal­ler count­ries, such as Ger­ma­ny, for ex­am­p­le, can’t ful­ly meet the de­mand for this va­luable good th­rough do­me­stic pro­duc­tion alo­ne. For that re­ason, a lot of ho­ney is be­ing traded. Ho­we­ver, dif­fe­rent pro­duc­tion ori­g­ins also bring forth dif­fe­rent re­gu­la­ti­ons. In Chi­na, the world’s lar­gest ho­ney ex­port­er[1], the ma­nu­fac­tu­ring pro­cess is of­ten ex­pe­di­ted for the sake of ef­fi­ci­en­cy. To preserve—or more ac­cu­ra­te­ly, imitate—the qua­li­ties of ge­nui­ne ho­ney, num­e­rous com­pa­nies di­lute their pro­ducts with su­gar sy­rup, con­ve­ni­ent­ly omit­ting this in­for­ma­ti­on for im­porters and end con­su­mers[2]. Asi­de from the frau­du­lent na­tu­re of such prac­ti­ces, this con­ce­al­ment of in­gre­di­ents can have se­ve­re con­se­quen­ces for in­di­vi­du­als with all­er­gies.

[1] Sta­tis­ta (2023) https://​de​.sta​tis​ta​.com/​s​t​a​t​i​s​t​i​k​/​d​a​t​e​n​/​s​t​u​d​i​e​/​1​1​3​8​9​7​5​/​u​m​f​r​a​g​e​/​d​i​e​-​w​i​c​h​t​i​g​s​t​e​n​-​e​x​p​o​r​t​l​a​e​n​d​e​r​-​f​u​e​r​-​h​o​n​i​g​-​w​e​l​t​w​e​it/
[2] Spie­gel (2022)https://www.spiegel.de/deinspiegel/lebensmittelbetrug-das-geschaeft-mit-dem-gefaelschten-honig-a-50cef905-0002–47b1-a119-08e11158b2c4

Food Fraud – A men­ace for com­pa­nies and con­su­mers

Food fraud in­ci­dents ap­pear in the me­dia over and over again. Glo­bal flows of goods and high­ly bran­ched sup­p­ly chains in­crease the op­por­tu­ni­ty to act frau­du­lent­ly. As num­e­rous as the op­ti­ons are, the da­ma­ge to the in­dus­try is equal­ly high. The con­se­quen­ces in terms of cus­to­mer trust are dra­ma­tic!

The EU esti­ma­tes the an­nu­al da­ma­ge cau­sed by food fraud at more than 30 bil­li­on eu­ros – com­pa­ra­ble to the he­ro­in trade on the black mar­ket.[1] But the fraud ca­ses are too di­ver­se to car­ry out cost-ef­fec­ti­ve tests. Ex­perts esti­ma­te that ten per­cent of our food is af­fec­ted by food fraud.[2] Vir­gin oli­ve oil is re­pla­ced with dyed sa­lad oil, stret­ched with che­a­per oils, or fal­se claims are made re­gar­ding its ori­gin. Shrimps are spray­ed with gel and al­co­ho­lic be­ver­a­ges adul­tera­ted – food fraud is om­ni­pre­sent no­wa­days.

On the other hand, cus­to­mers’ awa­re­ness re­gar­ding food qua­li­ty and con­sump­ti­on is in­cre­asing. One of the main con­cerns of con­su­mers is that they are be­ing mis­led about the true qua­li­ty of their food. This qua­li­ty awa­re­ness again leads to mas­si­ve pres­su­re on the food in­dus­try be­cau­se the ex­pec­ta­ti­ons of the end con­su­mers are gro­wing. In ad­di­ti­on, the in­creased trans­pa­ren­cy is lea­ding to a zero-fail­ure to­le­rance. The­r­e­fo­re, the chal­lenges are more num­e­rous and pre­ser­ving the cus­to­mers trust is more im­portant than ever.

In this con­text, com­pa­nies must en­su­re to meet the ex­pec­ta­ti­ons of their cus­to­mers re­gar­ding trans­pa­ren­cy and de­cla­ra­ti­on of their pro­ducts and need to avo­id pu­bli­ci­ty scan­dals that might even be roo­ted in their high­ly bran­ched sup­p­ly chains.

[1] Spie­gel (2021): https://​www​.spie​gel​.de/​w​i​r​t​s​c​h​a​f​t​/​s​e​r​v​i​c​e​/​b​e​t​r​o​g​e​n​e​-​v​e​r​b​r​a​u​c​h​e​r​-​m​i​l​l​i​a​r​d​e​n​g​e​s​c​h​a​e​f​t​e​-​m​i​t​-​l​e​b​e​n​s​m​i​t​t​e​l​b​e​t​r​u​g​-​s​p​i​e​g​e​l​-​t​v​-​a​-​7​b​9​3​8​b​3​d​-​8​4​0​f​-​4​2​6​d​-​b​b​a​0​-​5​b​f​0​7​6​5​4​b​f74
[2] Sta­tis­ta (2021): https://​de​.sta​tis​ta​.com/​s​t​a​t​i​s​t​i​k​/​d​a​t​e​n​/​s​t​u​d​i​e​/​1​1​9​6​0​4​9​/​u​m​f​r​a​g​e​/​h​a​u​p​t​s​o​r​g​e​n​-​b​e​i​-​l​e​b​e​n​s​m​i​t​t​e​l​b​e​t​r​u​g​-​i​n​-​e​u​-​u​n​d​-​d​e​u​t​s​c​h​l​a​nd/

But how can ma­nu­fac­tu­r­ers and sup­pli­ers pro­tect them­sel­ves from food fraud?

Using the Ha­Voc® Sen­so­ry Sys­tem, the lo­west le­vels of im­pu­ri­ties or de­via­ti­ons from the ori­gi­nal pro­duct can be de­tec­ted in real-time on the ba­sis of vo­la­ti­le or­ga­nic com­pounds. This tech­no­lo­gy, de­ve­lo­ped by Plas­mi­on GmbH, for the first time en­ables ana­ly­ti­cal de­vices (mass spec­tro­me­ters), which un­til now have only been used in la­bo­ra­to­ries, for in­dus­tri­al ap­pli­ca­ti­ons from re­si­due ana­ly­sis to real-time pro­cess con­trol: Spe­cial at­ten­ti­on is paid to ease of use, in­tel­li­gent use of tech­no­lo­gy, and pre­cise re­sults.

This tech­no­lo­gy is able to ana­ly­ze ho­ney from dif­fe­rent plant ori­g­ins which reve­als dif­fe­ren­ces in their VOC pro­fi­le

Si­mi­la­ri­ties and dif­fe­ren­ces in the VOC pro­fi­le can then be used to as­sess the kind and ori­gin of the ho­ney. But in this case more im­portant­ly, it al­lows to spot im­pu­ri­ties and judge the au­then­ti­ci­ty of ho­ney pro­ducts.

This ex­am­p­le shows, how the Ha­Voc® Sen­so­ry Sys­tem can pre­vent food fraud and enable qua­li­ty-ba­sed in­cen­ti­ves for sup­pli­ers by as­ses­sing the au­then­ti­ci­ty of a pro­duct ba­sed on in­stanta­neous da­ta­ba­se matching.

Simp­le. Smart. Sen­si­ti­ve.