Food smuggling and trafficking: the key factors of influence

Soon, Jan Mei orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0488-1434 and Manning, Louise (2018) Food smuggling and trafficking: the key factors of influence. Trends in Food Science and Technology, 81 . pp. 132-138. ISSN 0924-2244

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Food smuggling and food trafficking are terms not currently defined in the food literature. This work sought to determine how such definitions could be developed in order to inform future research and surveillance activity.

Scope and Approach
The concept of food smuggling and food trafficking is considered, and regulatory food surveillance data for illegal and unauthorised imports and food trade incidents (n=347) into the European Union (EU) between 1987 and 2017 is explored and critiqued.

Key findings
Illegal imports, especially animal and fish products, can pose a threat to human and animal health, spread animal disease and invasive plant species, and lead to loss of wildlife and biodiversity. Local or regional food economies can be negatively impacted through the tax avoidance and evasion elements of food smuggling and coercive food trafficking. Illegal and unauthorised import is one of the six food fraud categories in the EU’s Risk Assesment for Food and Feed (RASFF) database. Reported illegal trade was highest for meat products followed by fruit and vegetables probably as a result of purposive sampling and thus the data does not reflect the true incidence and type of illegal imports especially by individuals for personal use. There are limited global strategies in place to address food smuggling and trafficking and this work seeks to translate lessons learnt from the processes developed to reduce tobacco smuggling. This paper fills a current gap in the academic literature on this topic.

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