A few weeks ago, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) pre-released the “Guidance on Food Fraud Mitigation” document that offers a framework for the food industry and regulators to develop and implement preventive management systems to deal specifically with economically-motivated fraudulent adulteration of food ingredients.
“The real challenge in preventing economically motivated adulteration (EMA) is its unpredictable nature, and our guidance represents a leap forward in overcoming this hurdle,” says Jeff Moore, PhD, senior scientific liaison at USP. “The output from implementing this tool provides users with a basis for making informed, vulnerability-based decisions on how to deal with EMA within their organizations.”
According to USP, the guidance provides a step-wise approach for preventing EMA at the ingredient level. It allows individual assessment of all the indicators and factors known to contribute to fraud vulnerabilities and impacts, as well as qualitative tools to make sense of the results. Contributing factors included in the tool go beyond fraud history and include economic and geopolitical anomalies, audit strategies, and supply chain, and supplier characteristics.
Impact assessments are used in the guidance to characterize the potential consequences of EMA when it does occur by using a framework that separates out food safety and economic impacts—an important consideration for organizations that have different risk tolerances. The guidance also provides illustrative examples and publicly available information resources for carrying out vulnerability assessments, including the USP Food Fraud Database, launched in 2012.
USP hopes that the overall vulnerability assessment will provide a more complete picture for users in reallocating resources to the most vulnerable ingredients and/or gaps in their food supply chains.
“The value of this document, especially for regulators, is in benchmarking discussions about food fraud with industry and other stakeholders,” adds Markus Lipp, PhD, senior director of food ingredients at USP.
Early comments and suggestions to the guidance document may be sent to Jeff Moore at [email protected]. The official public comment period starts on Dec. 31, 2014 through March 31, 2015 via the FCC Forum.