Grocery Manufacturers and Battelle Fight Economically Motivated Adulteration

April 19, 2016
They jointly launch EMAlert food fraud software tool to manage vulnerability.

Grocery Manufacturers Assn. (GMA) and Battelle have partnered to provide EMAlert, a web-based software tool that should help prevent economically motivated adulteration (EMA) and food fraud.

"In today’s globally distributed, dynamic food supply network there are inherent risks to the integrity of the supply chain," the partners said in a statement. "Some estimate that food fraud costs the world economy $49 billion annually, and it has been estimated that about 10 percent of the food we buy is likely adulterated."

The software will allows food manufacturers to rapidly analyze and understand their individual, company-specific EMA vulnerabilities in the manufacturing process.

The two used as preventable examples wood pulp in shredded Parmesan cheese, melamine in baby formula and pet food, Asian catfish sold as grouper and pomegranate juice cut with grape juice. "Unfortunately, instances such as these … are but a few examples of frauds the industry must prevent each and every day."

“The impact on any particular company can range from minor economic damage to the potential loss of economic viability of the organization,” said Shannon Cooksey, vice president of science policy & regulatory affairs for GMA. “GMA joined with Battelle, the world’s largest non-profit R&D organization, to develop a better way of prioritizing the actual risks to specific commodity supply chains at any time, so that decision makers can best apply their resources to the vulnerabilities of greatest importance.”

EMAlert also provides manufacturers with an effective resource to assist with meeting the requirements of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule. Compliance dates for some businesses begin in September and require covered facilities to establish and implement a food safety system that includes an evaluation of hazards that may be introduced for economic gain.

“EMAlert works by providing quantitative estimates of an organization’s vulnerability to EMA for each commodity included in the analysis based on a combination of characteristic attributes and subject matter expert-based weightings,” said Ashley Kubatko, principal research scientist at Battelle. “The approach focuses on predicting fraudulent tendencies similar to approaches used by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to predict terrorist tendencies and preferences.”

By analyzing the attributes that contribute strongly to existing vulnerabilities, food safety and defense professionals may also identify alternative strategies, such as identifying suppliers from a more favorable region of the world or investing in research to develop identity tests for targeted commodities.

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