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Food labelling is small step in fraud fight

Food labelling is small step in fraud fight
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As Europe’s food industry moves to stop a repeat of the horsemeat scandal, how do retailers currently try to trace the content of their products?

GS1 is an organisation that creates standard barcodes across a number of sectors worldwide.

Jan Somers, its chief executive, said stopping fake meat products would be a collective effort across the industry.

“I think the only one who can detect (fraud) are the retailers and the brands themselves together with public authorities,” he said.

The ability to all ingredients back to their source is one part of the fight against fraud.

“We could put 10,000 things on the label, or just one. That won’t prevent fraud. Fraud remains fraud,” said Melle Frewen, director general of FoodDrinkEurope.

One problem is the fact that there are few checks on food as it is transported inside the EU’s internal market.

It is up to national authorities to decide, say consumers groups.

“Customs checks are already made for produce being unloaded from planes at the airport, and also from vessels at ports,” said Sophie Thise, a coordinator for Belgian consumer group CRIOC.

“The problem comes when food is transported by road where there are no inspections whatsoever,” he said.