On 20 November 2020, UNICRI held the virtual meeting “Supply chain security: food fraud”. The meeting was organized by the UNICRI Knowledge Center Security through Research, Technology and Innovation (SIRIO) in Geneva.
The scope of this meeting was to analyze how technology can be used to mitigate the risk of organized crime infilitrating the legitimate supply chain of food products. Two main topics were discussed. The first was the use of nuclear analytical techniques to detect and trace back fraudulent products to their origin. Different technology ideas were shared by Aliz Simon from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Debashish Mazumder from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Johnny Dias from the Institute of Physics of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, Gianluca Quarta from the Center of Applied Physics, Dating and Diagnostics (CEDAD), Bert Popping from Focos Food and Luca Veglia and Francesco Librandi from the Central Investigative Unit on food fraud of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture.
The second part of the meeting focused on supply chain integrated solutions that use multiple layers of security mechanisms based on different technology innovation options. Thomas Gering and Paul Glendenning from Nano4U, Marco Gerevini from Tecnoalimenti, and Nuno Gonçalves from the Portuguese Mint and Official Printing Office analyzed innovative counterfeiting solutions based on different approaches such as digital fingerprinting derived from the unique characteristics of the product, blockchain technology embedded in traceability systems or blockchain-protected Apps and data analytics.
The main conclusion of the meeting is that there is no silver bullet to stop infiltration of organized crime into the food supply chain. However, we can obtain more results if we consider integrated approaches. By joining the dots, UNICRI hopes to offer a contribution in this direction.
UNICRI will use the results from this meeting to finalize a report that will describe organized crime strategies to infiltrate legitimate food supply chains and that will analyze how technological advances can be used to address the problem. The report will also contain a set of strategic recommendations and follow-up actions.