Food Fraud and Economically Motivated Adulteration

Updated:2015-08-03 Clicks:13717

Food fraud is gaining interest as an emerging risk given the increasingly global and complex nature of food supply chains. Food Fraud incidents have become a major concern for countries around the world. The nature of the global food supply chain leads one local incident to possibly impact trade around the world. To clarify, Food Fraud” is deception for economic gain using food, “Economically Motivated Adulteration” or “EMA” is a “substance” for “economic gain,” and “intentional adulteration” (or “Food Defense”) covers both those topics but also includes acts that intend to cause harm.

Extensive work has been accomplished by CFSA, CFDA,U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), US-FDA, the Global Food Safety Initaitive (GFSI) and other industry and regulatory authorities to provide new and innovative tools to help combat Food Fraud and the sub-category of “Economically Motivated Adulteration (EMA) in food ingredients and dietary supplements. Despite the availability of these tools, there is still work to accomplish in the fight against the constant threat of Food Fraud.

Since its creation in 2011, the CFSA’s focus has been on “responsibility of providing technical support for food safety risk management covering the entire food supply chain” and also “serves to meet the scientific needs of innovative industrial development.” Under our clear and direct food safety mission it is a natural for the CFSA to expand from focusing on food contaminates and adulterants to Food Fraud prevention. This expanded perspective is because the first “Responsibility” of preventative controls are consistent with the mission that “CFSA plays an important role in painting the whole picture of the situation of Chinese food safety, while improving Chinese food safety supervision and management capacity, and reducing systemic risk in food safety.” Their core focus is on traditional food safety issues, and the preventative approaches incorporated within HACCP principles are fairly straightforward to reducing the Food Fraud vulnerabilities. To mission to reduce food safety incidents clearly supports the focus on Food Fraud prevention.

To effectively battle with food fraud, and specifically adulterants , China has issued six updated reports on the List of the Non-edible Substances Might Adulterated in Food and the Food Additives Might Misused in Food (referred to as The Negative List) since 2008. The Negative List is currently under review pending an assessment of : 1)no contradictory or duplicate management in relation to other Chinese food or criminal regulations; 2) to remove food additives from The Negative List that are already regulated in the National Food Safety Standard GB 2760; 3) to classify the non-edible substances in The Negative List (e.g. all the dyes were classed under one category called dyes, the nitrogen-rich compounds, industrial substances, and phosphorous pesticides, etc.).

Intentional adulterants are only part of the food fraud vulnerability. Indeed, food fraud is a collective term used to encompass the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering, or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients, or food packaging, or false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain. The types of fraud include adulteration, tampering, overrun, theft, diversion, simulation, and counterfeiting.

Dr. Spink will join Dr. Yukuko Yamanda in working with CFSA.

Last year, Dr Yukuko Yamada from Japan was enrolled to CFSA as advisor with successful application of the Recruitment Program of High-end Foreign Experts of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs and this year joined by Dr John Williams Spink from US, the director of Food Fraud Initiative (FFI).

To effectively combat food fraud and draw on the experience of international scholarship, CFSA successfully applied the Recruitment Program of High-end Foreign Experts of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs of 2015, of which Dr John Williams Spink will serve as the high-ranking consultant for CFSA, collaborating on the program of the possibility of fraud in food and thereby reducing the occurrence of food fraud. Dr. Spink is an internationally recognized leader in this field and the director of the Food Fraud Iniaitive (FFI) at Michigan State University (USA).

When Dr. Spink visited Beijing in February 2015, he awarded Dr Wu Yongning and CFSA the “Share the Puck” Valued Partner Award. This award recognizes key partners of FFI and to efficiently and effectively advance Food Fraud research together. The Valued Partner award not only recognizes interactions and collaboration but also accomplishment.

Dr. Spink and Dr. Wu Yongning, the chief scientist of CFSA, are both the experts of US Pharmacopeia Expert Panel on Food Ingredient Intentional Adulteration (the adulteration aspects of Food Fraud). A key deliverable from the USP Expert Panel was the creation of a Food Fraud Database ( which was published in the highly respected Jouranl of Food Science.

Beyond listing food fraud adulterants, the database provides a baseline understanding of the susceptibility or vulnerability of individual ingredients to fraud. In addition, it can be useful for those managing the risk of food fraud by providing a library of detection methods reported in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The cooperation relationship expanded again when Dr. Spink and Dr. Wu, with CFSA colleague Dr. Miao Hong, co-authored the recently accepted article “Introducing Food Fraud including translation and interpretation to Russian, Korean, and Chinese languages.” This article will be published in Food Chemistry, a very prestigious international academic Elsevier-published journal. The article is unique in that is provides not only the original article but also a translation and interpretation led by expert teams from work groups in Russia, Korea, and China. This is not just an automated translation of the words from English to the other languages. This information can be useful to parties responsible for assessing existing and emerging risks and trends for economically motivated adulteration, authenticity, fraud, or counterfeiting issues for food ingredients.

Dr. Spink Presenting the Valued Partner award to Dr. Wu and CFSA

Food Fraud prevention is a global concern that requires global partnerships. CFSA is both leading and collaborating with international experts to help lead global research on Food Fraud prevention.