Updated database intended to limit food fraud; help with FSMA

Unhealthy Food CautionCosting the food industry an estimated $10-$15 billion annually and affecting as much as 10% of the global food supply, food fraud is an ongoing issue that officials believe cannot be ignored. That is why the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) has launched the next generation of its Food Fraud Database (FFD 2.0).

The goal of the database is to help food manufacturers and retailers make informed decisions about ingredients in their portfolio that may have a greater potential of being adulterated. The database is meant to provide brand protection, increase consumer trust and support new food safety regulations recently finalized by FDA, a recent article explains.

“Consumers today are more educated than ever, and manufacturers risk doing irreparable damage to their brands as a result of food fraud,” Todd Abraham of Mondelēz Int’l and member of USP’s board of trustees, said in the article. “The Food Fraud Database 2.0 provides food manufacturers with the ability to look at past incidents of fraud and take proactive steps to protect their supply chains — thus protecting their reputation and ensuring consumer confidence in their products.”

Some of the most commonly adulterated foods include:

  • Milk (adulterated with melamine, urea, vegetable oils, formaldehyde)
  • Olive oil (adulterated with cheaper oils not fit for human consumption)
  • Spices (adulterated with cheaper materials, industry dyes)
  • Honey (adulterated with high-fructose corn syrup, other sugars, mislabeled country of origin)
  • Seafood (adulterated  with cheaper species, misrepresented countries)
  • Juice (adulterated with sugar, water, cheaper varieties)

Adding to the helpfulness of the new database, FFD 2.0 also supports compliance with new FDA regulatory requirements related to food safety. Through the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), food manufacturers and retailers are required to identify and analyze potential hazards including those resulting from food fraud as part of their food safety plans.

The article explains that FFD 2.0 provides hazards reports on specific adulterants, making it easier for manufacturers and retailers to quickly identify ingredients with a known history of adulteration with potentially hazardous substances.

“Substances used to adulterate food can include industrial dyes, plasticizers, allergens, or other substances not intended to be consumed by people,” Jeffrey Moore, science director for the food program at USP said in the article. “Smart mitigation of risks starts with reliable data, and the Food Fraud Database 2.0 is a first good step towards assessing the hazards potentially present in specific food supply chains.”

This update of the database, now considered the largest collection of food fraud records in the world, includes not only thousands of ingredients and related adulterants, but also incident reports, surveillance records and analytical methods gathered from scientific literature, media publications, regulatory records, judicial records and trade associations around the world.

“With data informed by scientists and food fraud experts from academia, industry and regulatory agencies, the new database offers even better coverage of the historical information on instances of food fraud,” says Jonathan W. DeVries, chair of USP’s expert committee on food ingredients.

To help food manufacturers and processors protect their brands and label with confidence, Neogen offers a range of testing products to test raw and cooked foods for species identification. For more information, click here.

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