Agriculture / Cattle / Consumer Choices / Expert Perspectives / Food Safety

Can Certification Prevent Food Fraud?

On February 7, Britain’s Food Standards Agency found horsemeat in a frozen lasagna meal labeled 100 percent beef. Since then, a scandal of epic proportions has unfolded, with fraudulently labeled horsemeat identified in frozen grocery store meals, dishes served at schools, hospitals and restaurants, and even Ikea’s famous meatballs. (The furniture giant removed its Swedish meatballs from 21 European countries as well as the Dominican Republic, Thailand and Hong Kong.)

Happy cows come from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.

Happy cows come from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.

The New York Times explains the issues, saying:

The detection of horse meat, which began in Ireland and spread quickly, has raised questions about the quality and oversight of Europe’s complex chain of slaughterhouses, processed meat producers, distributors and retailers. Already millions of products have been withdrawn, and new cases of adulteration are being discovered almost daily, involving some of the best-known food makers—including Findus and Iglo—and most prominent supermarket chains.

The Rainforest Alliance’s director of strategic initiatives, Sabrina Vigilante, believes that certification can be a critical tool to prevent fraud and ensure supply chain transparency:

There is a powerful argument here for Rainforest Alliance certification, which is currently being applied to cattle and bison ranches in Latin America.  One of the benefits to companies in working with us to source sustainably certified products, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, palm oil, and now beef and leather, is that the product can be traced back to the source—a ranch that meets the strict social and environmental requirements of the Rainforest Alliance. Final consumers can rest assured if the package is labeled with the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ trust mark, the beef is originating from cows raised on the green pastures of a sustainably managed ranch.

She notes that certification is growing in popularity as a tool to protect companies and consumers:

More and more responsible businesses are opting to source certified. It is still the best tool we have to provide assurance to consumers—and a simple and effective way for citizens to take action.

Learn more about the Rainforest Alliance’s certification work and our efforts to bring safe, sustainable beef to the marketplace.

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