3.0 Product/process-related countermeasures

At the manufacturing stage, countermeasures that seek to address product/process-related vulnerabilities need to be in place. The process involves production stages from farm to fork i.e. during growing, harvesting / slaughtering / catching of primary products, primary processing, secondary processing of food / food ingredients, packaging, labeling, storage and dispatch. Wholesome and trusted raw materials and ingredients are the key to producing good quality food products. In this case, suppliers (people) play a crucial role in providing correct and sufficient materials to the manufacturers. Monitoring of suppliers and informing vendors (people-related countermeasures) regarding the required specifications can serve as the first line of defense in combating food crimes. During processing, potential deliberate adulteration of food products can be minimised via limited accessibility, zoning (place) and creating a buddy-system (people) while operating high-risk processes. Process countermeasures developed to minimise food fraud can include: the use of unique serial numbers at batch, product or lot level; traceability through measures such as RFID, and features on the packaging of individual items such as special inks, holograms, etc. on cases of product or on each pallet (Spink et al. 2010).  At the most basic in terms of technologies packaging designs that incorporate tamper proof or tamper evident systems such as film wrappers, shrink seals and bands, breakable or single use caps (Zadbuke et al. 2013).

Anti-counterfeiting technologies for packaging can be divided into direct or overt technologies i.e. clearly visible to the consumer or indirect or covert technologies that are not visible to the naked eye (Meraviglia, 2018). Direct or overt technology enables end users to visually verify the packaging originality such as the use of holograms, watermarks, barcodes, RFID, and tamper-evident seals. Indirect or covert technology requires a certain level of expertise and dedicated equipment and the technology is often invisible (Soon and Manning, 2019). Examples of covert technologies include invisible digital watermarks and microtext. The invisible digital watermark developed by FiligGrade can be embedded onto packaging and provide Business to Consumer (B2C) product information via a mobile app which also verifies the accuracy of the watermark, thus the authenticity of the product (FiliGrade, n.d.). Microtext is extremely small texts or codes that is inserted into larger text, overt image or other design and is not visible to the naked eye. This technique is very difficult to replicate as fraudsters are unaware that it exists and require advanced detection and printing technology (Consolidated Label, 2018).

Further controls associated with process can be numbered seals on bulk storage silos, stock control measures, electronic access to specific physical zones via fingerprint technology, codes and passwords, (PAS 96, 2014), lone worker policies, password protection of computer terminals and electronic process management systems, and re-engineering of equipment to prevent access e.g. covered conveyors, use of sight glasses etc. Process related countermeasures can only be implemented when people and place mitigation strategies are incorporated into the process.