This seems like the right thing to post on April Fool’s Day (April 1, 2019) as the upcoming news item concerns fooling people although not in a any friendly, amusing way.. More pleasantly, the other story I’m including holds the possibility of foiling the would-be adulterators/counterfeiters.
The problem and blockchain anti-counterfeiting measures
Adulterating or outright counterfeiting products such as olive oil isn’t new. I’m willing to bet the ancient Greeks, Romans, Persians, Egyptians, and others were intimately familiar with the practice. It seems that 2019 might see an increase in the practice according to a March 22, 2019 article by Emma Woollacott for BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) news online,
“Fraud in the olive oil market has been going on a very long time,” says Susan Testa, director of culinary innovation at Italian olive oil producer Bellucci.
“Seed oil is added maybe; or it may contain only a small percentage of Italian oil and have oil from other countries added, while it just says Italian oil on the label.”
In February  the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) warned that poor olive harvests are likely to lead to a big increase in such adulterated oil this year.
And it’s far from the only product affected, with the European Union’s Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality recently highlighting wine, honey, fish, dairy products, meat and poultry as being frequently faked.
Food suppliers, like Bellucci are making efforts to guarantee the provenance of their food themselves, using new tools such as blockchain technology.
Best-known for its role in crypto-currencies like Bitcoin, blockchain is a way of keeping records in which each block of data is time-stamped and linked irreversibly to the last, in a way that can’t be subsequently altered.
That makes it possible to keep a secure record of the product’s journey to the supermarket shelf.
Since the company was founded in 2013, Bellucci has aimed to build a reputation around the traceability of its oil. Customers can enter the lot number of a particular bottle into an app to see its precise provenance, right back to the groves where the olives were harvested.
“We expect an improvement in the exchange of information throughout the supply chain,” says Andrea Biagianti, chief information officer for Certified Origins, Bellucci’s parent company.
“We would also like the ability [to have] more transparency in the supply chain and the genuine trust of consumers.”
IBM’s Food Trust network, formally launched late last year, uses similar techniques.
“In the registration phase, you define the product and its properties – for example, the optical spectrum you see when you look at a bottle of whisky,” explains Andreas Kind, head of blockchain at IBM Research.
The appearance of the whisky is precisely recorded within the blockchain, meaning that the description can’t later be altered. Then transport companies, border control, storage providers or retailers, can see if the look of the liquid no longer matches the description or “optical signature”.
Meanwhile, labels holding tamper-proof “cryptoanchors” are fixed to the bottles. These contain tiny computers holding the product data – encrypted, or encoded, so it can’t be tampered with. The labels break when the bottle is opened.
Linking the packaging and the product in this way offers a kind of proof says Mr Kind, “a bit like when you buy a diamond and get a certificate.”
Wollacott’s March 22, 2019 article is fascinating and well worth reading in its entirety.
The honey problem and nuclear detection
Getting back to Canada, specifically, the province of British Columbia (BC), it seems honey producers are concerned that adulterated product is affecting their sales. A January 25, 2019 news article by Glenda Luymes for the Vancouver Sun describes the technology to detect the problem (Note: Links have been removed),
A high-tech honey-testing machine unveiled Thursday [January 24, 2019] in Chilliwack could help B.C. beekeepers root out “adulterated” honey imports that threaten to cheapen their product.
Using a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machine, Peter Awram’s lab will be able to determine if cheap sweeteners, such as corn syrup or rice syrup, have been added to particular brands of honey to increase producers’ profits.
The machine will also create a “fingerprint” for each honey sample, which will be kept in a database to help distinguish premium B.C. honey from a flood of untested, adulterated honey entering Canada from around the world.
“We’d eventually like to see it lead to a certification scheme, where producers submit their honey for testing and get a label,” said Awram, who runs Worker Bee Honey Company with his parents, Jerry and Pia Awram. “It would give security to the people buying it.”
A study published in October  in Scientific Reports found evidence of global honey fraud, calling honey the world’s “third-most adulterated food.” Researchers tested 100 honey samples from 18 honey-producing countries. They discovered 27 per cent of the samples were “of questionable authenticity,” while 52 of the samples from Asia were adulterated.
There’s more about honey, adulteration, and detection in this Vancouver Sun video,
You can find the Worker Bee Honey Company here and you can find a 25 minute presentation about hone and the NMR by Peter Awram for the 2018 BC Honey Producers Association annual general meeting here.