// October 20, 2015

Adulteration of Food Ingredients and Dietary Supplements Focus of USP Workshop

Adulteration of Food Ingredients and Dietary Supplements Workshop

Organized by USP, American Botanical Council, and Food Protection and Defense Institute

For as long as there has been commerce, there have been examples of economically motivated adulteration (EMA) and fraud. In Ancient Greece precious olive oil was cut with poorer quality oil; when the popularity and price of spices soared in the Middle Ages, some merchants mixed ground seeds with stone dust; and in the 18th century milk was often diluted with water and a little plaster for more convincing color.

Today, similar adulteration trends continue, with some modern twists.  Recent examples of food fraud include substitution of horse meat for ground beef, mislabeling of fish species, cumin tainted with ground peanuts and milk powder adulterated with melamine to increase its apparent protein content. 

The High Costs of Adulteration and Fraud

Although it is difficult to quantify, because a fair proportion of fraud goes undetected, a 2010 study by the Grocery Manufacturers Association estimates that EMA may cost the global food industry between $10 and $15 billion per year.

Although the vast majority of food fraud incidents do not pose a health risk, incidences like the melamine-tainted milk powder, peanut butter contaminated with salmonella and allergen-laden spices endangered and caused harm to public health. 

This is why the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) emphasizes preventive controls and supplier verification and requires manufacturers and food facilities to factor the possibility of EMA in their supply chain into their hazard analyses.

EMA also presents a threat to the dietary supplement industry.  In particular, the criminal behavior of a handful of manufacturers who market adulterated products as dietary supplements that actually contain active pharmaceutical ingredients and drug analogs has threatened public health and weakened consumer confidence in the supplement industry.

Equipping Industry with Education

As part of its mission to protect public health and assist manufacturers eager to make quality products—USP is proud to offer an educational course on Food Fraud Mitigation and a workshop on Adulteration and Fraud in Dietary Supplements and Food Ingredients.  

The workshop is organized in cooperation with the American Botanical Council (ABC) and the Food Protection and Defense Institute (FPDI) and will take place December 3–4, 2015 at USP’s offices in Rockville, MD.

New Tools for Identification and Mitigation

During the workshop, USP will present several new and innovative tools and resources specifically designed to help retailers, manufacturers and regulators identify and mitigate the risks associated with EMA and fraud. These tools may be especially relevant to companies seeking to comply with new FSMA regulations. Prominent international experts will discuss the current state of the industry and the steps necessary to help protect manufacturers and consumers from the risks of adulterated food and dietary supplements as well as GMP requirements.

Participants will discuss the progress and further developments of the Food Fraud Database, USP’s Food Fraud Mitigation Tool (published September 2015 in the Third Supplement to FCC 9) as well as predicting EMA activities by using  big data and learning about progress on food fraud initiatives in other parts of the world—notably in Europe and China.

Participants interested in dietary supplements will have an opportunity to discuss the new General Chapter <2251> Adulteration of Dietary Supplements with Drugs and Drug Analogs, preview the new USP Dietary Supplement Adulteration Database, and debate the validity of DNA-based methods in establishing botanical identity.  

Learn How You Can Participate

USP, ABC and the FPDI encourage manufacturers, retailers and regulators eager to explore ways to mitigate and prevent adulteration to attend. To register, review the preliminary agenda or see more information, please visit the event webpage.