Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Robert Packer from PerkinElmer, pinpointed economic adulteration - commonly known as 'food fraud' - as “the biggest threat” to the dairy industry on a global scale.
He identified the 2008 melamine scandal – where six infants died and around 300,000 people were sickened in China after consuming milk powder tainted with nitrogen-rich melamine - as “the biggest example" of food fraud in the dairy industry in recent years.
According to Packer, the dairy industry is now asking, “What’s the next threat? What’s the next melamine?”
"We know what could be the next melamine"
“The big dairy processors are looking for ways to identify these threats, because a something like the melamine scandal can have a huge impact on the reputation of a brand, and everything manufactured by a company," said Packer.
“We know what could be the next melamine, so we are working on systems to test for these substances,” he said.
To meet these quality and safety threats head-on, the dairy industry is increasingly adopting a two-pronged approach to food fraud, according to Packer – a combination of “frontline” and laboratory-based testing solutions.
“Because there are a lot of ways to adulterate milk, it is necessary to introduce a test to identify any unknown components of milk," he said.
"On the frontline, we have the non-specific screening tests, which can identify an abnormality. We can then validate these frontline tests with solutions for the lab.”
Advanced solutions may “deter” those responsible
Packer hopes that the development of more advanced testing solutions will deter those responsible for these cases of adulteration.
“Obviously we would love our customers to keep buying our testing solutions," said Packer. "But if we can deter the people responsible for these cases of food fraud, that’s brilliant."