"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 perspectiv
|Contact: Mark Fellows|
Michigan State University