Consumption. “Food fraud affects all products and all brands”

Consumption.  "Food fraud affects all products and all brands"
Ingrid Kraegel is the Information Director in charge of the Food Watch NGO. Photo by Antoine PIECHAUD

You describe the widespread food fraud. Aren’t some brands more virtuous than others?

No, this is what I found in my survey: it affects all products, from salt, pepper, Grand Crew champagne or foie gras. In terms of signs, the book does not give good or bad things. We see that fraud affects all levels of the food chain, from processed products to raw materials. It affects all products and all brands. Big brands or small labeled manufacturers can fall prey to themselves. Moreover, everyone knows about the problem in the community.

Isn’t giving even a more expensive product a pledge against fraud?

of course. In Europe, 9% of protected geographical indications (PGI) are false. In France, we have a lot of them, so we can think of more than that. Still, these are products that inspire confidence. Authorities say one of the 12 organic products tested in France is not as organic as claimed. Despite being warned, I think I had to give it to my kids to eat.

Beyond fraud and unfair competition, how can these scams affect the health of consumers?

If you buy a tomato labeled as French when it is actually Spanish, there is no great risk to your health as European restrictions apply to all countries. Fraud, on the other hand, involves imitations of alcohol and wine that can be counterfeit and may contain toxic or dangerous products …

Ingrid Kragel's book was published in France on March 25.  Food Watch Visual
Ingrid Kragel’s book was published in France on March 25. Food Watch Visual

As an “average” consumer, what can we do to avoid falling into the trap?

With the naked eye, unfortunately, a fraud cannot be identified. We can catch politicians on this issue. Our leaders know that there is a problem with regularly attending European level meetings. We as a citizen can ask politicians to take action to protect us from such dangers By signing the petition we posted on Food Watch.

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At the French level, what solutions have you identified?

We believe that there should be major preventive measures to ensure that the products are not counterfeit – as is the case with hygiene. In England, authorities support operators to ensure there is no fraud in their distribution network. In France, we handle crises well, but only after the fact. We need more transparency.

What does that mean?

When agents of fraud suppression do their control work, they do it well, but it is not known who was behind it or who swallowed the counterfeit products. Currently, scammers are never exposed in public, so it encourages this kind of behavior that is kept in the shadows. Ireland in England, Scotland, the subject is not as forbidden as in France. In Denmark, all control reports are published on the Internet for access or access. This transparency is a great barrier for fraudsters who fear the reputation of their business.

Are there still sanctions in France?

Major offenders are often not fined. When they are caught, they face delays in prosecuting criminal proceedings, encouraging and controlling agents of the DGCRF (Suppression of Fraud, Editor’s Note) to discuss deals with fraudsters. Sanctions fall, but in the greatest secrecy.

“Actually Fake. Food Fraud Scams”, Robert Lafont Editions, 393 pages, 21 euros.

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