The US Food & Drug Administration is to host a public meeting to address the problem of economically motivated adulteration (EMA) of food, supplements and drugs.
In an invitation to the event, to be held on 1 May, the agency says: "Several recent incidents involving FDA-regulated products are suspected to be examples of EMA. These incidents illustrate the potential for serious public health harm from such adulterated products."
The FDA lists a series of cases where EMA is suspected, including last year's contamination of Chinese milk products with melamine.
It adds: "Despite longstanding FDA requirements to assure the safety of regulated products, such as requirements for the use of ingredients of known identity and quality in drugs, economically motivated adulteration remains a public health threat."
Interested parties are invited to come to the meeting to present "information pertaining to predicting and preventing EMA of food (including dietary supplements and animal food), drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics." The agency also says comments can be submitted to the public docket.
Defining EMA, the FDA says: "For purposes of this public meeting, FDA proposes a working definition of EMA as the fraudulent, intentional substitution or addition of a substance in a product for the purpose of increasing the? apparent value of the product or reducing the cost of its production, ie for economic gain.
"EMA includes dilution of products with increased quantities of an already-present substance (e.g., increasing inactive ingredients of a drug with a resulting reduction in strength of the finished product, or watering down of juice) to the extent that such dilution poses a known or possible health risk to consumers, as well as the addition or substitution of substances in order to mask dilution."