Food Authenticity Methods Program logo
AOAC’s Food Authenticity Methods (FAM) program focuses on identifying analytical tools to better locate and characterize the intentional and economically motivated adulteration of foods.

Food fraud encompasses a wide range of deliberate fraudulent acts, from adding nonauthentic substances to removing or replacing authentic substances without the purchaser’s knowledge. Most commonly, this involves selling of food which is unfit and potentially harmful, deliberate mislabeling of food, or counterfeiting.

The top three most adulterated foods in the United States are olive oil, milk, and honey.

Scope and Objectives

The FAM launched with two working groups (Targeted and Non-Targeted Testing) with the following goals:

  • Survey the Targeted Testing landscape to identify most commonly tested ingredients and their associated targeted adulterants
  • Identify existing methodologies for food fraud Targeted Testing and their (AOAC) status, and identify reference materials and Proficiency Testing programs.
  • Identify Targeted Testing analytical gaps and set priorities for developing AOAC standards
  • Map an accelerated process for AOAC Targeted Testing standards development and review for use in the event of a major international food fraud incident
  • Develop standards for Non-Targeted Testing (NTT) of foods including a generic SMPR to evaluate NTT methodologies for their reliability and usefulness
  • Develop acceptance criteria for NTT methodologies for use as ingredient screening tools in domestic and international trade

Working Groups

FAM currently has the following active working groups:

  • Non-Targeted Testing Working Group
  • Targeted Testing Working Group
  • Molecular Applications Working Group
  • Matrices Subgroups for olive oil, honey and milk/milk products

Accomplishments to Date

  • Six SMPRs for honey, milk products, and extra virgin olive oil
  • Imminent adoption of SMPRs for botanicals and spices (vanilla, saffron, and turmeric)

Future Work

  • Continued work on botanicals and spice matrices
  • Development of emergency response guidance and process decision tree (E-RAMP; Emergency-related, Rapid Approval, Methods Program) to assist emergency adulteration events posing a public health threat
  • Development of SMPRs for meat and seafood adulteration
  • Development of training programs

Get Involved

There are many benefits to contributing to the standards development in connection with food authenticity and fraud.

If you are a method developer, the working groups will develop the standards used by AOAC Expert Review Panels to evaluate your candidate targeted and non-targeted methods for possible adoption as AOAC Official MethodsTM.

If you are a food manufacturer or food distributor, you can participate in the development of standards and methods that best meet your analytical needs, protecting your brand’s reputation and improving the quality and safety of our food supply.

For all, this program will create reference methods that do not exist now that will result in reliable data for an effective compliance-driven quality control of food materials and products. It will support the development of standards leading to Codex Type II methods for dispute resolution in international trade.

If you are interested in this program and to partner with AOAC, please contact Alica Meiklejohn at 301-924-7077; ext. 101 or [email protected].

For general information on the AOAC FAM program, please contact Delia Boyd, Program Lead, at (301) 924-7077, ext. 126 or [email protected].