Back to the meeting between the PARERA Platform and Food industry stakeholders in Québec

The CRIBIQ Connect program brought 16 participants from food industry, federal and provincial governments, labs and pharmaceutical companies to the INAF to discuss emerging issues in the agri-food industry with the actors of the PARERA platform.


During this day of discussion, stakeholders had the opportunity to share with the group the challenges they faced within their companies, laboratories or organizations on the themes of emerging issues in agri-food industries (mainly food fraud and foo allergens). The participants also had the choice to bring other themes met. Participants came from agri-food industries in Quebec, the Food Inspection Agency, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ministry og Agriculture of Quebec, private laboratories, and pharmaceutical companies.

Here is a summary of the discussions at this meeting.

Participant Expectations

• Learn more about allergen and fraud issues

• Update on knowledge and methods of fraud detection

• Improve industry practices for fraud prevention

Issues encountered

  • Food allergens:

• Use of the "may contain"

• No thresholds available for allergens such as in microbiology

  • Food fraud:

• Lack of packaging fraud data for GFSI requirements

• Little protection against fraud for industries despite good practices and Food Fraud Vulnerability Assessment

• Responsibility for the products' authenticity belongs to the last actor of the chain, even if the fraud took place upstream (at a supplier or other actor)

• Considerable cost of analysis, especially for SMEs

• All lots cannot be analyzed

• New pesticide molecules every year, making it difficult to differentiate between organic and non-organic products

• No universal detection method

• High costs for developing a fraud analysis, especially when the fraudulent compound is unknown

• Costly and inaccessible fraud databases

Partial conclusion

The food industry lacks information and guidelines to prevent fraud and to protect their company effectively against fraud committed by other actors in the food chain


Solutions

  • Food allergens:

• Determine allergen contamination thresholds for each priority allergen and adapted to food matrices

• Develop a food allergen management procedure in industries that relies on contamination thresholds obtained with Canadian clinical studies such as VITAL (clinical thresholds) in Australia

  • Food fraud:

• Increase the frequency of vendor unplanned audits

• Have [if possible] at least 2 suppliers for each ingredient

• Have CFIA / MAPAQ recognized guidelines to prevent fraud (procedures, records, test results / audits, identify high risk foods & fraudulent agents ...)

• Obtain an accessible, free and anonymous exchange space and database platform (allows the exchange of industry and CFIA fraud cases without mentioning the names of companies to preserve confidentiality)

• Consumer Education Programs (Fraud in General) & Business (Unintentional Fraud)


Follow-up of the meeting

The PARERA platform is currently working on the drafting of guidelines for the management of allergens in food industries based on the application of thresholds. In addition, PARERA submitted a manuscript on guidelines for food fraud management and prevention in industries.

The creation of a platform for the exchange of information on food fraud cases between the industries (between them) and the governmental agencies was a project the platform PARERA had in the pipelines but the meeting highlighted the need and the emergency to build such a sharing space following the requests of the stakeholders. The PARERA platform undertakes to seek funding to support the development of such a platform that would allow Quebec companies to share their information anonymously and benefit from information from the CFIA and other stakeholders on food fraud.

Finally, the PARERA platform submitted a request for funds to the Quebec Research Funds (FRQ) (DIALOGUE program) for undertake a campain of information for the consumers in Quebec. The objectives are to provide consumers with food knowledge to better understand what they eat and therefore consume better.