Seen and heard: food fraud news in brief

Irish potatoes, US honey, Indian milk, Malaysian halal products and sugar in Kenya have all been hitting the headlines.

Irish farmers seek probe into potato mislabelling

Potato variety mislabelling is undermining the livelihoods of growers, according to the Irish Farmers Association, which is calling for a national investigation into the issue by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. IFA chairman Thomas McKeown said that mislabelling regarding country of origin and variety was “a constant problem”, noting that Queen potatoes are particularly vulnerable to this type of fraud. Retailers, especially those who inadvertently or otherwise stocked these particular potatoes, must do more to ensure that they have traceability systems in place which prevent food fraud, he added.

Honey now third most adulterated food in US

The US Pharmacopeia’s Food Fraud Database lists honey as the third-favourite food target for adulteration, behind milk and olive oil, says an article in The Economist, which also suggests fraudsters are becoming increasingly wise to the techniques used to spot falsification. One problem is that the FDA’s definition of honey is “rudimentary”, it says, as it gives fraudsters license to harvest honey prematurely before it has ripened, and doesn’t “take a clear position on whether something sold as honey should be free of additives.”

More than two thirds of Indian milk products violate standards

Around 69 per cent of all milk and milk products in India contravene Food Safety and Standards Authority of India's (FSSAI) standards, according to an Economic Times report, which says the most common adulterants are detergent, caustic soda, glucose, white paint and refined oil. The FSSAI recently proposed stiffer penalties of up to a life sentence in prison for those found guilty of intentionally adulterating food products, after seeing a rise in the adulteration rate from 13 per cent in 2011/12 to 23 per cent in 2016/17.

Malaysia hit by massive fake halal scandal

The authorities in Malaysia have seized 17 million products nationwide over the use of fake halal logos, according to, which says the seizures came from 41 separate cases identified by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry. In July, a snack food factory in Puchong was raided by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS), which found that they did not have a halal certificate but used a falsified halal logo to fool customers.

Kenyan sugar scandal hitting manufacturers

Controls put in place after the scandal involving contaminated sugar that rocked Kenya a few weeks ago is having a detrimental impact on domestic companies, according to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM). The group says a shortage of industrial sugar is affecting processed foods and confectionary companies and is caused by the delays at the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) clearing imports of sugar while it carries out checks, according to a Business Daily report.

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