USP boosts food fraud database by 60 per cent

Olive oilNearly 800 new records of 'food fraud' have been added to a US Pharmacopeial Convention’s (USP) database, first set up in 2010 with around 1,300 records.

The new entries in the Food Fraud Database have been harvested from journal and media reports in 2011 and 2012, while the 1,300 original entries spanned from 1980 to 2010. 

The data suggests a sharp rise in reports of food fraud, and while the USP stresses it is not possible to glean any information on the acutal incidence of food fraud it is now trying to educate consumers about the risks.

"While food fraud has been around for centuries, with a handful of notorious cases well documented, we suspect that what we know about the topic is just the tip of the iceberg," said Dr. Jeffrey Moore, senior scientific liaison for USP and the database’s creator and lead analyst.

The USP found pomegranate juice was the most popular target, with food fraudsters substituting the expensive ingredients for grape or pear juice.

Among the new scholarly records added to the database, the top ingredients represented are olive oil, milk, saffron, honey and coffee, followed by tea, fish, clouding agents (used in fruit juices/beverages to make them look freshly squeezed) and black pepper, none of which was in the top 25 list for 1980-2010.

"Ultimately, we hope the database can be used as a tool by food manufacturers, regulators, scientists and others worldwide to help achieve a safer food supply," said Moore.

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