The Food Authenticity Methods Program (FAM) is unlike any other launched by AOAC INTERNATIONAL. Its aim is to develop the tools to analytically define a commodity as “authentic” by first establishing a metrics-based framework i.e. Standard Method Performance Requirements (SMPRs®) for not only the suspected adulterant – known or unknown – but also for the commodity as well; and then, foster the development of methods to meet the established consensus standards.
Such an approach will provide method developers with the means to precisely validate their methods, provide confidence to testing labs who employ these methods and provide reassurance to industry that the methods used by the laboratory are suitable.
Food Authenticity is a term often used to give assurances to food manufacturers that raw ingredients are accurately documented; and, to reassure consumers that the products they purchase are safe and accurately represent the quality for which they’ve paid.
Food fraud, often referred to as Economically Motivated Adulteration (EMA), encompasses a wide range of deliberate acts designed to misrepresent the authenticity and value of a food product; it includes the fraudulent addition of nonauthentic substances, or the removal or replacement of authentic substances without the purchaser’s knowledge for the economic gain of the seller. Food adulteration is a moving target. These deceptive practices are continuous and deviously inventive to avoid detection, and present added challenges for those involved in testing for and prevention of EMA.
AOAC INTERNATIONAL launched the FAM Program at the March 2019 Midyear Meeting, The objective was to gather industry stakeholders, method experts, and regulators to develop method performance standards to evaluate validated analytical methods to support authenticity claims and to detect all recognized and previously unrecognized fraudulent adulterants in a wide range of food commodities.
FAM’s foundational approach involved targeted and non-targeted analyses. Whereas targeted testing (TT) is the determination of known molecules (the adulterant) and requires their prior identification as an economically motivated adulterant, non-targeted testing (NTT) serves to answer the generic question, “is something [in the food] that doesn’t belong?” with a binary “yes” or “no” answer.
Each approach offers great value to combating fraud and when integrated into a unified program, the combination of targeted and non-targeted methods provides an umbrella of protection for the producer and consumer alike; NTT provides a screening capability and ensures that very little evades detection; TT provides identity and confirmation and makes the finding legally defensible.
In 2019, two AOAC working groups (TTWG and NTTWG) developed 6 SMPRs (3 each) for methods needed to assess the authenticity of olive oil, honey and bovine milk, based on the most recognized adulterants in these commodities. A Call for Methods will be posted on the AOAC website to solicit candidate methods for evaluation by AOAC Expert Review Panels.
The FAM Advisory Panel, comprised of funding organizations, meets quarterly to review progress of the program and rank overall priorities.
Organizations may join the Advisory Panel with an annual contribution of $10,000.
As of March 2020
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