Records are compiled from publicly available sources such as scientific literature, media publications, regulatory reports, judicial records and trade associations from around the world. References are searched, compiled, quality control-checked, and information is entered into the database by USP scientific staff.
Records are entered on a regular (typically, daily) basis
Please notify us using the "Contact Us" link in the database in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Our team will review the information and enter it into the database, if applicable.
While the Food Fraud Database has records dating back to the 1800s, the focus of the database is on information since 1980.
There are more than 3,700 ingredients in the database. Additional ingredients are added regularly. If you would like to suggest an ingredient to be added to the database, please contact us using the "Contact Us" link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
There are currently more than 6,000 records in the database, with new ones added almost daily. One can find the total number of records in the database on the Dashboard under "FFD USP News of Interest."
An "incident" is a documented occurrence of food fraud in a food ingredient or product within a defined timeframe. Incidents are often reported in the media and tend to include contextual and supporting information about the perpetrator, motive, geographic location, and/or other characteristics.
An "inference" record is an indication of probable knowledge of food fraud adulteration without sufficient documentation to be classified as an incident. Often, an inference record is created from published research conducted to develop detection methods for adulterants in particular ingredients. Inference records are also created to document the specific combinations of ingredients and adulterants resulting from general surveillance testing in the marketplace.
A "surveillance" record documents a report of sampling and testing of foods or ingredients in specified geographic locations or at multiple points along the supply chain to gain knowledge about the scope or prevalence of fraud. This type of market sampling is typically conducted by regulatory agencies, trade organizations, or other interest groups, and may also occur as part of published research regarding analytical detection methods.
A "method" record provides information on an analytical method for detecting food adulteration or authenticating food ingredients that has been published in a scholarly report.
Incident records are evaluated with respect to the weight of evidence of the references that support them. For example, well-documented incidents with associated scientific or legal documentation (such as melamine adulteration of milk) are assigned a "high" weight of evidence. Incidents with only media sources as references, unsupported by associated regulatory or other documentation, may be assigned either a "medium" or "low" weight of evidence. The framework for assigning "weight of evidence" determinations can be requested by contacting email@example.com
The FFD System Ingredient Groups are not guaranteed to be all inclusive. They are a starting point for searching within the database and can be copied and edited as needed by users. Where applicable, we have included helpful information in the “notes” for each group, for example: “the nutritive sweeteners group does not include honey.” Please review the ingredients included in the group to determine if they are applicable to your needs.
The FFD does not include information about company names in the data that we extract. Company names are often not reported and can change over time. An assessment of the overall food fraud history of a given ingredient is one useful indicator of potential future risk, and we have structured the data in FFD to provide this information. For evaluating supplier-related risks, we suggest the organization-specific approach outlined in the USP Food Fraud Mitigation Guidance (available at www.foodfraud.org). Finally, every record in the FFD is linked to a primary source reference. Therefore, users of FFD who are interested in specific company names may be able to access that information in the primary source reference document.
The USP Food Fraud Database structure uses multiple record types to enable users to quickly identify the information most useful to them. These record types may be thought of as the lenses through which food fraud information is presented. As a result, information from one reference may be included in two (or more) separate records. Therefore, the Search interface does not allow simultaneous searching by all record types. This minimizes the display of multiple records that share a common reference.
The groups that one creates are specific to that user profile and cannot be viewed by anyone else.
You can create your own ingredient groups and saved searches within the FFD, but the database is currently not designed for addition of private, company-specific information. It is not possible to directly import ingredient lists from other systems due to the wide variety of systems and naming conventions that are used. Please contact USP at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like assistance in creating your ingredient groups and saved searches.
Where applicable, we enter food fraud records for specific flavor ingredients, including natural flavoring complexes (e.g. essential oils) and flavor chemicals. We welcome the suggestion to add additional essential oils or flavor chemicals. However, there are thousands of formulated flavor products comprising multiple flavor chemicals in proprietary combinations (e.g., Beef Barbecue Flavor) with a wide variety of names. We do not add proprietary formulated flavor products to FFD. For companies that source flavor ingredients or proprietary formulated flavor products, we suggest using the “Flavors” ingredient group in a vulnerability assessment as a representative for any specific flavor ingredient/product.
This indicates that there is at least one incident in the database; however, information about the location of production or distribution was not available from the references used to create the record(s).
The FFD does not provide information about the regulatory status of ingredients or adulterants. There are records in the database that describe adulteration of ingredients that do not have regulatory authorization in the U.S. It is the responsibility of the user to confirm the applicable regulatory status of ingredients and additives.
Many foods are not subject to “standards of identity” (requirements that specifically prescribe appropriate names and compositional criteria) or “appellation of origin” requirements (restrictions on the use of specific terms to specific areas of production). In the absence of clear requirements, determining the appropriate name or composition of a food product in the marketplace can be complicated. Such decisions can take into account a variety of factors, such as national and local laws and requirements, marketplace norms, and consumer expectations, among others. The database includes records of fraud that involve reasonable evidence of intentional violation of a regulation, typical market practice, or labeling requirement.
Companies are responsible for labeling their products in compliance with applicable legal and regulatory requirements, including those related to declaring the presence of allergens. In some cases, companies may determine that it is appropriate to notify consumers of the potential presence of allergens, even where such allergens are not intentionally added to the food product. Such determinations are situation-dependent, and it is not possible to generalize about their appropriateness or permissibility. The decision to include voluntary or “precautionary” allergen labeling on a food product does not necessarily constitute “food fraud.”
An expert panel of toxicologists, food safety experts, and legal experts was convened by USP to develop a framework for categorizing adulterants in the database with respect to their hazard potential. The framework includes the provision that allergens, as identified by Codex Alimentarius, are identified as potential hazards. Therefore, any adulterant that is one of those allergens is automatically identified as a potential “hazard.” We recognize the hazard potential likely does not exist if both the ingredient and the adulterant are the same type of product (such as the substitution of organic eggs with conventionally-produced). This situation happens because the hazard classification is associated only with the adulterant, not with the combination of ingredient and adulterant.
Ultimately, the decision about whether a potential adulterant is a hazard is based on situation-specific factors and should be made by qualified personnel. For more information on the Hazards Identification Framework, contact email@example.com
The concept of “food fraud” is generally understood to encompass the deliberate adulteration or mislabeling of consumable food products for the purpose of economic gain. Food packaging supply chains also may be susceptible to economically-motivated activities with a negative impact on safety or quality, e.g., deliberate substitution of inferior-quality materials. However, such activities typically are not described as “food fraud” and, therefore, are not captured in the FFD.
One can find this information by going to the "YOUR ACCOUNT" link in the top right-hand corner and selecting "Manage Subscriptions" link. You will see a tab titled "Paid Subscription" where you will see your subscription key with the start and end date. You can also contact customer service at:
- United States and Canada: +1-301-881-0666 | (Toll Free) 1-800-227-8772
- Select Europe: 00-800-4875-5555
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fax: +1-301-816-8148
- Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 4:30 AM to 6:00 PM EST
The Food Fraud Database supports the use of Microsoft Internet Explorer 11.0 and Google Chrome.
Please contact the USP at email@example.com for training and/or assistance in using the FFD.