British Food Journal. 2017, V. 119, n. 1, p. 52-66
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Purpose – Consumer confidence in the European food industry has been shaken by a number of recent
scandals due to food fraud and accidental contamination, reminding the authors that deliberate incidents can
occur. Food defence methods aim to prevent or mitigate deliberate attacks on the food supply chain but are
not a legal requirement. The purpose of this paper is to discuss how proactive and reactive food defence
practices can help prevent or mitigate malicious attacks on the food chain and also food fraud, food crime and
food safety. The authors look at how food defence differs from food safety and how it contributes to food
supply chain integrity.
Design/methodology/approach – Food defence has been the focus of two different EU FP7 security
projects, EDEN and SNIFFER. Food industry stakeholders participated in workshops and demonstrations on
food defence and relevant technology was tested in different food production scenarios.
Findings – Food industry end-users reported a lack of knowledge regarding food defence practices. They
wished for further guidelines and training on risk assessment as well as access to validated test methods.
Novel detection tools and methods showed promise with authentication, identification, measurement,
assessment and control at multiple levels of the food supply chain prior to distribution and retail.
Practical implications – The prevention of a contamination incident, prior to retail, costs less than dealing
with a large foodborne disease outbreak. Food defence should therefore be integral to food supply chain
integrity and not just an afterthought in the wake of an incident.
Originality/value – It is argued that food defence practices have a vital role to play across the board in
unintentional and intentional food contamination incidents. The application of these methods can help ensure
food supply chain integrity.
Food safety Food security Fraud Terrorism Food defence Public perception