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Scottish salmon farmer, Loch Duart, to start fingerprinting its farmed salmon, to protect its provenance, fight fraud, and increase consumer confidence.
It's estimated that food fraud affects around 10% of the global food supply chain. This kind of fraud costs the UK food and drink industry about £12 billion a year.
Fraudsters can take advantage of almost any edible commodity, including fruit juices, alcohol, spices, meat, as well as fish. To combat this, Scottish salmon farmer, Loch Duart, will start fingerprinting its farmed salmon in partnership with food-origin firm Oritain this year.
Oritain invented a pioneering fingerprint technology that enables firms to verify the origin of farmed fish at any stage of the supply chain, leading to better traceability and authentication of food.
The tech innovation will recognize the provenance of Duart salmon, and stop fraudsters using the Loch Duart name to sell lower-quality salmon in the UK and abroad.
Reeling in the rustlers
The global food supply chain is very complex and we sometimes don’t really know where the food we eat originally comes from - or if in fact it is what we think it is.
By testing fish DNA, Food Standards Scotland found in many cases that fish being sold as cod was in fact haddock. While haddock being sold as haddock has often turned out to be whiting.
Food labels and bar codes are not enough to prove provenance as they can be copied and put on other low-quality and cheaper products.
The Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit, part of Food Standards Scotland, focuses on tackling food crime and maintaining consumer protection. There's a hotline that the public and food business operators can call anonymously if they think something fishy is happening anywhere in the supply chain.
Unfortunately, fraudsters have a range of methods at their disposal to exploit the Scottish brand, with both the original food producers and the end customer suffering.
Watch out for food fraud
According to the National Farmers Union fraud report 2017, 74% of Scots believe that there is an issue with food fraud in the UK.
The report found that 33% of Scots trust products and retailers less than they did five years ago, mainly due to media reports. Processed food, red meat, poultry, supplements and animal feed belong to the least trusted product types.
Reputationally, getting to grips with food fraud is imperative for the industry to maintain consumer trust and loyalty.
Tracing product back to fish farms
Loch Duart’s main concern is its brand image and high-quality reputation, as its fish is sold to premium restaurants and hotels.
To stop suppliers passing off other fish as Loch Duart salmon, Oritain will help the company to protect its brand. The company use forensic analysis to trace elements that appear naturally at each farm and are absorbed by Duart’s farmed salmon.
Oritain's database profiles genuine product, and creates a unique fingerprint, that allows farmers to verify not only the country and region, but also each individual salmon farm in Scotland.
This technology allows firms to identify and prevent fraud, to protect brand reputation, and to build customer trust and retain loyalty.
Food innovation and business growth
Identifying food fraud is a global challenge, but improving and monitoring the complex food system is essential for consumer safety.
Technology that proves food origins reassures the consumer and stops them from being misled. It could also help to find contaminations and uncover food scandals within the supply chain more efficiently.
This technology could be used for other Scottish produce and improve Scottish producer reputation worldwide.
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