The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), along with nonprofit research and development firm Battelle, have announced a new food fraud assessment tool called EMAlert. The tool is compliant with the Food Safety Modernization Act requirement that companies evaluate potential hazards that may be introduced for economic gain.

“EMAlert provides quantitative estimates of an organization’s vulnerability to economic motivated adulteration 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.”

Two attributes included in the assessment are the price of ingredients used to manufacture products as well as the geopolitical stability of the region where ingredients are sourced. The current high prices of such ingredients as saffron or vanilla may be flagged by the assessment tool for possible vulnerabilities. However, only provides information to users--it does not make decisions for them.

By analyzing the attributes that contribute to existing vulnerabilities, food safety and defense professionals may use the tool to identify such alternative strategies as identifying suppliers from a more favorable region of the world or investing in research to develop identity tests for targeted commodities. The EMAlert tool is available to everyone in the food and beverage industry and not just GMA members. There is a cost associated with the use of EMAlert in the form of a licensing fee.

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