The National Institute of Oilseed Products (NIOP) has formed a Product Integrity Committee (PIC) in response to increasing incidents of food fraud within the oilseed industry worldwide. The committee will closely investigate the issue of food fraud, collect data from member companies, and educate local, state, and federal leaders responsible for overseeing the health, safety, and labeling of packaged goods on why the critical issue must be addressed. NIOP members have also begun quality testing oil shipments at many of its members’ facilities, which will provide additional data on the prevalence of fraud within the industry.

Food fraud is the act of purposely altering, misrepresenting, mislabeling, substituting, or tampering with any food product at any point along the supply chain. It is estimated that the global food industry may lose up to $40 billion annually due to fraud, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Oilseed fraud typically occurs by short weighting products or substituting high quality oils with inferior oils to increase profit margins. Consumers are harmed by this practice because they are not receiving the products they pay for. Fraudulent oils may have an inferior nutritional quality and value for consumers. This impacts many of NIOP’s members who have lost sales to inferior products, and companies are concerned about maintaining their products’ integrity and reputations they have worked hard to build.

In establishing the PIC, NIOP has elected to become a one-stop resource offering the latest news and information on food fraud within the oilseed industry, and to help its members advocate for meaningful policy enforcement and updates for protecting the integrity of weight and ingredients in packaged products. The committee has begun investigating food fraud and has created an online collection of resources for its members.

Recently, the PIC rolled out a random testing system to help determine how prevalent food fraud is in the oilseed industry. Random samples of oil will be collected from supermarket shelves and the food service industry around the U.S. The company-blinded test results will be uploaded to an online repository and over time, the database will offer insights on how widespread oilseed fraud is and will provide a roadmap for the creation of additional initiatives dedicated to preventing it.