Food fraud has become an international problem, and the cost to the industry is estimated at $10-15 billion each year, according to the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). In an effort to enhance its Food Fraud Database to better track the problem, USP recently launched an updated version known as FFD 2.0. The FFD 2.0 version can identify trends and risks using a custom dashboard, which will alert users to new food fraud incidents and track ingredients of concern. The result is meant to allow users to stay on top of the economically motivated adulteration of food products, wherever they may occur. “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,” said Jonathan W. DeVries, Ph.D., chair of USP’s Expert Committee on Food Ingredients. FFD 2.0 also contains incident reports, surveillance records and analytical methods gathered from scientific journals, media publications, regulatory records, judicial records and trade associations around the world in addition to thousands of ingredients and related adulterants. USP aims to help industry not just comply with requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act, but also to protect brands and regain consumer trust shaken by well-publicized incidents of food fraud. While there is no commonly accepted definition of food fraud, it usually means the intentional adulteration of food and food ingredients for economic gain. Sometimes the fraud takes the form of one food item being deliberately substituted with another cheaper item, or, an item may be adulterated or diluted with other ingredients. For example, what appears to be natural honey may contain antibiotics, chemicals and added sweeteners, and what is labeled as “Italian extra virgin olive oil” may contain vegetable or canola oil and may not even be from Italy. A recent example of apparent food fraud involved ground cumin adulterated with peanut protein. This incident, which prompted about 20 recalls, resulted in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issuing a consumer warning in 2015 alerting those who may be allergic to peanuts. USP notes that its current Food Fraud Database (version 1.0) will no longer be available after Sept. 12. Both versions may currently be accessed here.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)