The food supply system is vulnerable to various types of contamination and adulteration. This research focuses on economically motivated adulteration (often called "food fraud"). Economically motivated adulteration (EMA) refers to the knowingly selling a food product that is not up to standards in order to gain economic advantage. There is a long history of EMA in a wide variety of food products. The food safety paradigm is not sufficient for food defense, or for prevention and deterrence of EMA. The goal of this research was to develop methods to improve capabilities for preventing and detecting EMA incidents. First, the food ingredient monographs in the United States Pharmacopeial (USP) Convention Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) were evaluated for susceptibility to EMA. These evaluations can be used to help target the most susceptible ingredients for monograph modernization within USP, and for inspection and laboratory testing resources by regulatory agencies. Second, economic and production data for dairy products in China leading up to the melamine adulteration event was analyzed to evaluate the utility of this data for alerting to the potential for EMA in a food commodity. This analysis shed insight on variables that may be useful for tracking the production of global commodities for early indications of EMA. Finally, a surveillance technique for trade data was evaluated using melamine adulteration of wheat gluten as a case study. This biosurveillance-like methodology can be applied to food import data to identify supply chain shifts that could indicate changes in the market for food products and a heightened risk of EMA. Regulatory agencies have an enormous burden of responsibility for regulating the food supply for both domestically-produced and imported food products. Given the constrained resources of these agencies, they need improved methods for targeting those resources towards the riskiest food products. These preliminary efforts to shed light on EMA vulnerabilities and potential mitigation efforts can contribute to efforts in that area. An integrated, systems-based approach to food protection that encompasses both food safety and food defense is imperative for ensuring the integrity of our food supply.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2013. Major: Environmental Health. Advisor: Dr. Craig Hedberg. 1 computer file (PDF): viii, 135 pages, appendices p. 130-135.
Economically motivated adulteration: implications for food protection and alternate approaches to detection.
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