This report describes the development of a food-ingredient fraud database from reports in the scientific literature and the media from 1980 to 2010. The full database of 1,305 records of food-ingredient fraud (categorized as replacement, addition, or removal fraud) will be available in tabular format in the eighth edition of the Food Chemicals Codex (United States Pharmacopeia, 2012).
While accounting for only 1 percent of total records, adulteration of (Chinese) star anise (Illicium verum) fell within the top 25 ingredients subject to adulteration identified in the scientific literature. The top six ingredients subject to adulteration were olive oil, milk, honey, saffron, orange juice, and coffee. Chemometrics, a data analysis tool, was identified as an emerging analytical trend in identifying food fraud, which suggests a potential need for its use in routine quality assurance testing. Indeed, this is the intent of employing near-infrared spectroscopy instrumentation for botanical-ingredient authentication, though appropriate data sets must first be constructed and the applicability of the method proven.
Journal of Food Science
April 4, 2012
Development and Application of a Database of Food Ingredient Fraud and Economically Motivated Adulteration from 1980 to 2010
Food ingredient fraud and economically motivated adulteration are emerging risks, but a comprehensive compilation of information about known problematic ingredients and detection methods does not currently exist. The objectives of this research were to collect such information from publicly available articles in scholarly journals and general media, organize into a database, and review and analyze the data to identify trends. The results summarized are a database that will be published in the US Pharmacopeial Convention's Food Chemicals Codex, 8th edition, and includes 1305 records, including 1000 records with analytical methods collected from 677 references. Olive oil, milk, honey, and saffron were the most common targets for adulteration reported in scholarly journals, and potentially harmful issues identified include spices diluted with lead chromate and lead tetraoxide, substitution of Chinese star anise with toxic Japanese star anise, and melamine adulteration of high protein content foods. High-performance liquid chromatography and infrared spectroscopy were the most common analytical detection procedures, and chemometrics data analysis was used in a large number of reports. Future expansion of this database will include additional publically available articles published before 1980 and in other languages, as well as data outside the public domain. The authors recommend in-depth analyses of individual incidents.