Adulteration of Foods and Dietary Supplements Workshop to Examine Vulnerabilities, Case Studies, Promising Detection Techniques and Evolving USP Quality Standards

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Representatives from Government, Academia and Manufacturers to Help Steer Direction of USP Quality Specifications, Analyze Detection Approaches for Global Standards

To meet modern-day tastes and demands of consumers, the food and dietary supplement industries are accelerating global sourcing and manufacturing while utilizing increasingly innovative, functional and natural ingredients. As the complexity of supply chains grows with more distant sourcing of ingredients, so do the risks posed by adulteration. The extent of adulteration, the emergence of promising detection techniques, and the role that quality standards can play in assisting industry and protecting consumers are among areas of focus for an upcoming workshop, Intentional and Unintentional Adulteration of Food Ingredients and Dietary Supplements, November 16–17, 2011, in Rockville, Md.

The workshop is sponsored by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), the nonprofit public health organization that publishes the Food Chemicals Codex (FCC) and the USP Dietary Supplements Compendium (DSC). FCC and DSC provide written specifications for the identity, quality and purity of food ingredients and dietary supplements and ingredients, respectively; test methods suitable for the verification of these standards; and in numerous cases reference materials to confirm the correct execution of the test methods.

“In the food and dietary supplement industries, manufacturers continually incorporate new ingredients valued by consumers for their purported nutritional, health, flavor or other benefits,” said Anthony DeStefano, Ph.D., acting documentary standards officer at USP. “Consumers and manufacturers pay a premium for these ingredients, which become targets for opportunistic adulteration as supply chains globalize. Adulteration can have significant business and health consequences, and should be a top concern for all stakeholders.” Continued DeStefano, “As strategies gain traction within companies, and science yields new detection techniques, this workshop will explore how global standards can serve all players in protecting the food and dietary supplements supply chains.”

Among workshop highlights:

  •     Skim Milk Powder Adulteration Project—Scope, preliminary results, and challenges from this ongoing USP-industry collaborative research project that is currently evaluating the utility of different rapid non-targeted methods for discriminating authentic/pure skim milk powders from those that have been adulterated. The intention of this project is to create a tool-box of rapid authentication methods, confirmatory methods, and new total protein methods along with reference materials to help prevent economically motivated adulteration of skim milk powder in the supply chain. Many of the tools being explored represent a new paradigm for verifying food ingredient integrity that would be heavily reliant on chemometrics data analysis approaches combined with spectral libraries to assess how similar or different a test skim milk powder “fingerprint” is compared to those from numerous authentic/pure reference “fingerprints.”
  •     Food Fraud Database—An advance look at a USP-developed database compiling published reports of food adulteration and detection methods, including more than 1,200 entries encompassing over 250 ingredients and based on more than 600 reports. In addition to indicating trends, useful to industry to warn of problematic and vulnerable ingredients, the database will help inform USP’s future work by assisting in identifying analytical gaps that have been exploited—which USP can use to prioritize monograph modernization efforts. High-level trends including the most commonly reported adulterated ingredients over the past 30 years will be presented.
  •     Analytical Detection Approaches/Compendial Role—An overview of different analytical approaches—in use or offering promise—including fingerprinting and non-targeted analysis approaches using chromatographic, electrophoretic, spectral and other novel techniques to detecting adulteration. The compendial role in preventing adulteration, and how new approaches can be incorporated to meet the needs of industry, will be explored.
  •     Case Studies—Case studies looking at products and ingredients with a history of—or considered at-risk for—adulteration to include natural colors and flavors, spices, pomegranate juice, and weight loss and performance-enhancing dietary supplements spiked with pharmaceutical ingredients and steroids.

Presenters will include representatives from companies including General Mills, Kraft Foods, McCormick and Co,, Inc., and Chr. Hansen, among others; the National Institutes of Health; and academia and contract laboratories.

For more information and to register, please visit Media inquiries may be directed to mediarelations(at)usp(dot)org.

USP – Advancing Public Health Since 1820
The United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) is a scientific, nonprofit, standards-setting organization that advances public health through public standards and related programs that help ensure the quality, safety, and benefit of medicines and foods. USP’s standards are relied upon and used worldwide. For more information about USP visit

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Francine Pierson
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