A new mobile application could help retailers tackle food fraud and give consumers much-needed transparency.

The news comes as police investigate the discovery of needles in an apple and banana in NSW after strawberries have been found contaminated with needles in six states across Australia.

But with the recent news aside, food fraud is actually surprisingly common, Gennady Volchek, CEO and found of Shping told Retailbiz.

“The reality is that it’s not a new problem, it has been happening for a while. It happens on a regular basis around the world,” he said. “No one is immune, even systems and operations which are properly monitored and require an improvement.”

The strawberry crisis in Australia and the egg recall earlier this month shows that better protections must be in place to prevent these sorts of quality breaches, Mr Volchek said.

“The strawberry recall and egg salmonella recall shows consumers better systems in place as well as retailers and the industry.”

But Mr Volchek believes the crisis is an opportunity for food retailers to look at risks within their supply chain and to improve systems to build customer trust and he’s built an app to help tackle the issue.

An application developed by Mr Volchek’s Melbourne-based company Shping is helping food companies build trust through improved product recall management, counterfeit protection and grey import protection services.

The mobile-based application allows consumers to scan a product barcode and learn about what’s in a product, where it’s from and whether it’s affected by a recall whilst also giving consumers reward points for using the service.

As an example, if a consumer scans strawberries that are later affected by a recall, the consumer will be directly notified of any relevant recalls affecting the product.

“The system allows you to recall products and know where affected products are at any particular time. It also allows consumers to be alerted of product recalls which means a consumer regardless of where they’re buying products consumer will be alerted about the product recall,” he said.

The application is currently being used by Heinz Baby Basics, Sudo Crem and Hairy Lemon, amongst others.

As consumer concern over food fraud rises, it’s critical that retailers look to improving transparency around product, according to Mr Volchek.

“Making data more transparent is very important and both industry and consumers could benefit from enabling better communication both from a marketing and security point of view,” he said.