Friday, May 22, 2009

IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo

The Institute for Food Laws & Regulations (IFLR) will be at the IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo June 6-9. Stop by and see us at booth #602.

Thousands of food industry professionals from around the globe convene at IFT to learn about the latest developments in scientific research, technologies, new products, food law, and consumer trends. The IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo brings together decision-makers from all of the many disciplines involved in food science, technology, law, and more. The meeting packs in tremendous educational sessions as well as offering great networking for professionals in R&D and other scientific/technical positions, as well as in corporate management, purchasing, consulting, academia, government/regulatory, and technical sales and marketing.

Hope to see you in Anaheim!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Seminar on Food Import Safety May 26-27

Neal Fortin will be speaking on food import law on May 27 in Madison, Wisconsin. The seminar titled, Food Import Safety: Systems, Infrastructure, and Governance, is sponsored by the Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy at University of Wisconsin – Madison. More information and the agenda are available here, here, and here.

To register, send an email to with the following information: Name, Title, Affiliation, Mailing Address, Telephone Number, Fax Number, and E-mail. The conference is free-of-charge but space is limited. For a map of the UW campus, see

Friday, May 01, 2009

Food counterfeiting, John Spink Video Presentation

Food counterfeiting, contamination outpace international regulatory systems

John Spink discusses food counterfeiting and contamination. Watch>>

PDF of Spink's presentation

From MSU News, Special Report available at:

CHICAGO — Intentionally contaminated Chinese milk killed several children and sickened 300,000 more, causing concern around an increasingly connected world economy. Demand for inexpensive products virtually guarantees future repeats of food adulteration and counterfeiting from overseas, Michigan State University researchers said, as trade volumes overwhelm regulatory oversight.

Nobody can guarantee safe food, said Ewen Todd, but governments need to improve controls by promoting increased corporate responsibility, identifying vulnerabilities and assessing risks. Todd, a professor of advertising, public relations and retailing, conducted a symposium on the safety of imported food today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting held in Chicago.

Increasing risk-based inspections and sampling; improving the detection of food system signals that indicate contamination; improving immediate response to contamination events; and improving risk communication all should be part of a more stringent regimen, Todd said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspects less than 2 percent of the food coming into the country, while 13 percent of America’s food is imported, Todd said.

“It’s a worldwide trend. First of all, transportation is easier, trade is easier,” he said, while consumers are increasingly well traveled and have higher expectations. “We want stuff in the winter when we can’t grow it.”

Between the extremes of accidentally contaminated food and terrorism via intentional contamination lies the counterfeiter, seeking not to harm but to hide the act for profit. The melamine incidents are such examples. As an industrial chemical that mimics protein content in tests was added to milk and subsequently created kidney problems for children.

Product counterfeiting is the focus of a presentation by John Spink, an instructor at the National Food Safety and Toxicology Center and director of the Packaging for Food and Product Protection (P-FAPP) initiative, both at MSU. He is developing a criminal justice program focused on food counterfeiting.

“We take a risk-based approach to analyze where the gaps are and look closer at where there is a higher reward for fraud,” he said.

“Counterfeiting goes back to Roman times, when French wine had a seal of Roman origin,” he said. “Products are moving around the world so fast now that there’s more opportunity for fraud. When food was distributed more regionally, there was less potential for large-scale fraud, or outbreaks of any kind.”

Recent instances of counterfeiting or contamination include conventionally grown vegetables sold as organic; fish sold as a more premium species; milk and pet food adulterated with melamine; catfish containing banned antibiotics; toothpaste contaminated with diethylene glycol (a base chemical in antifreeze); and canned energy drinks of unknown origin labeled with brand names.

Pharmaceutical counterfeiting has attracted most of regulators’ attention until recently, he said, but those companies are required to report adverse affects or similar problems, while food companies and other manufacturers are not.

“At MSU, our approach to anti-counterfeiting strategy is extremely interdisciplinary to address the many aspects of the risk,” Spink said, including public health communication, supply chain and packaging security. “Overall, we take a holistic, strategic perspective on the human element that led an individual to perceive an opportunity and then act — this perspective is led by criminal justice, social anthropology and basic business economics. Of course other important disciplines are intellectual property rights law, food law, medicine, nursing, public health, international trade, psychology, consumer behavior, retailing, management, economics and business.”

MSU’s international experience also gives it a valuable perspective by understanding source country economies and cultures, Spink said.