HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Rome, Italy or Virtually from your home or work.
September 16-18, 2024 | Rome, Italy
FAT 2022

Mark Woolfe

Mark Woolfe, Speaker at Food Science Congress
Secretary of the Food Authenticity Network, United Kingdom
Title : The challenges in tackling food fraud


Food fraud is as old as the beginnings of trade in food, and today it is regarded as major problem to global food integrity.  As there is no legal definition, this can be a hurdle in its prevention and the ability to take legal enforcement action. There many challenges in trying to address food fraud.

The first challenge is to define the scope of food fraud, and there are many definitions in the scientific and non-scientific literature. In the UK, the government programme takes a broad scope of food fraud including intentional adulteration, substitution etc, but also circumventing hygiene requirements. Hence in tackling fraud, the legislation and standards associated need to be identified to assist prosecutions. 

The second challenge is to have the tools to investigate fraud. It is possible to investigate purely examining documentation. However, documents can be forged, so, having an independent method to verify the authenticity of foods is always desirable. Unlike other areas of food analysis such as contaminants and microbiology, the number of techniques for authenticity methodology is much wider and collectively, are often referred to as “food forensics”.  As the results can be used to make legal decisions, it is important that the methods are robust and fit-for-purpose, and if based on databases of authentic samples, that the provenance of these are known. Finally, because of the 2013 horsemeat fraud incident, several initiatives have been established to assist in the investigation of fraud. These include setting up UK Food Crime Units, forming Networks to exchange information on cases of fraud, and the Food Authenticity Network, which is an open access resource for authenticity methods and food fraud mitigation.


Dr Mark Woolfe FIFST, FRSC: Trained as a food scientist/technologist and has worked in industry and universities in the UK, West Africa, and South America, before joining MAFF in 1984, and the FSA in 1999/2000. His responsibilities covered labelling and standards for the EU Single Market legislation, as well as UK Regulations on a range of specific foods. He has been active in both British and international standards committees (Codex, UN/ECE). He was responsible for the Government’s Food Authenticity Programme for 15 years to develop novel methods and organised national surveys to identify mislabelling/misdescription and fraud. He worked closely with enforcement laboratories and local authorities to transfer new methodology and investigate food fraud. Although retired in 2009, he has continued to be actively involved in food authenticity, chairing the Royal Society of Chemistry Committee on Food and Feed Authenticity supervising research projects. He has been the Secretary of the Food Authenticity Network,  an open access resource for authenticity methods and fraud mitigation, since its inception in 2015, and in 2018-21, chaired the UK BSI mirror Committee for CEN TC460 Food Authenticity. He still acts as an external assessor for EU research proposals and projects.