Egypt launches authentication system for food, pharma

Dr. Khaled HanafiEgypt is turning to an SMS-based verification system in a bid to prevent consumers being exposed to counterfeit food, beverages and pharmaceuticals.

The project has been funded by the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade and Ministry of Military Production, and was unveiled at a press conference earlier this month.

The verification platform consists of labels - with randomised serial numbers in human-readable form and incorporated into a barcode - which can be sent to a registered number via SMS using a regular mobile phone or a smartphone.

In a few moments, the purchaser of the product should get a message back indicating whether the pack is genuine or fake. It is estimated that between 10 and 30 per cent of medicines sold in Egypt are counterfeit, although figures are hard to come by for food and beverage products.

The system is being piloted by a number of manufacturers at the moment, and the Egyptian government is hoping other producers will start adding the labels to their products. It is envisaged that participation will become compulsory in future, according to a Daily News report.

Dr Khaled Hanafi, the Minister for Supply and Internal Trade (pictured), said the aim of the system is to protect the public from exposure to potentially hazardous products and also to protect Egyptian companies from the economic and brand damage caused by fake products in the supply chain.

He suggested that domestic producers lose around EGP 30m (around $4m) a year to as a result of counterfeiting.

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