Can Ethical Certification Prevent Food Fraud?


  • Jade Lindley The University of Western Australia
  • Hannah Bongiovanni The University of Western Australia
  • Dominique Eastwood The University of Western Australia



food fraud, ethical trade, regulation, techniques of neutralisation


Ethical, sustainable, social and environmental certification organisations exist as a means to ensure various trade standards are met; protect and empower small-scale producers in developing countries; and enable consumers to use their purchasing power to effect positive change. Consumers who trust in these labels accordingly pay a premium for it, though as is the case with all food, crime may infiltrate the supply chain and undermine the value of the certification label. Research shows that crimes such as modern slavery and child labour, use of banned pesticides, corruption, and food mislabelling have all been linked to certified foods – and regulation and traditional enforcement over these crimes may be limited or absent. The existence of these crimes undermines the certification process, purpose, validity and legitimacy and may render the label fraudulent. However, standards set by certification organisations operate as a form of regulation, despite being universally inconsistent and voluntary. Implicit or explicit tolerance for these crimes also denies injury committed against the consumer. As such, from the perspective of food fraud, this research suggests that through their standards setting, certification organisations may provide a layer of regulation and enforcement, contributing to the prevention of food fraud for certified ethically labelled food.




How to Cite

Lindley, J., Bongiovanni, H., & Eastwood, D. (2023). Can Ethical Certification Prevent Food Fraud?. International Journal of Rural Criminology, 7(3), 334–356.