Food safetyNew food fraud database launched

Published 6 April 2012

DHS defines food fraud as the deliberate substitution, addition, tampering, or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients, or food packaging, or false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain; a new database compiles thousands of food fraud reports; the most fraud-prone foods: olive oil, milk, and honey

In new research published in the April Journal of Food Science, analyses of the first known public database compiling reports on food fraud and economically motivated adulteration in food highlight the most fraud-prone ingredients in the food supply; analytical detection methods; and the type of fraud reported. Based on a review of records from scholarly journals, the top seven adulterated ingredients in the database are olive oil, milk, honey, saffron, orange juice, coffee, and apple juice.

A U.S. Pharmacopeia release reports that the database was created by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), a nonprofit scientific organization that develops standards to help ensure the identity, quality, and purity of food ingredients, dietary supplements, and pharmaceuticals. USP’s food ingredient standards are published in the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) compendium.

The new database provides baseline information to assist interested parties in assessing the risks of specific products. It includes a total of 1,305 records for food fraud based on a total of 660 scholarly, media, and other publicly available reports. Records are divided by scholarly research (1,054 records) and media reports (251 records). Researchers are Drs. Jeffrey C. Moore (lead author) and Markus Lipp of USP, and Dr. John Spink of Michigan State University.

Food fraud was recently defined in a report commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security and funded by the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (University of Minnesota) as a collective term that encompasses the deliberate substitution, addition, tampering or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients or food packaging, or false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain. A more specific type of fraud, intentional or economically motivated adulteration of food ingredients has been defined by USP’s Expert Panel on Food Ingredient Intentional Adulterants as the fraudulent addition of nonauthentic substances or removal or replacement of authentic substances without the purchaser’s knowledge for economic gain of the seller.

This database is a critical step in protecting consumers,” said Dr. Spink. “Food fraud and economically motivated adulteration have not received the warranted attention given the potential danger they present. We recently defined these terms [see the Journal of Food Science, November 2011] and now we are defining the scope and scale. As many do not believe a concept or risk exists if it does not appear in a scholarly journal, we believe that publication of this paper in the Journal of Food Science will allow us to

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