Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where do records in the database come from?

    Records are compiled from scientific literature, media publications, regulatory reports, judicial records and trade associations from around the world. Sources are searched, compiled, vetted, coded, and entered into the database by USP scientific staff.
  • How often are they entered?

    Records are entered on a regular (often, daily) basis.
  • What if I am aware of an incident that is not in that database?

    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.
  • Are allergens identified as potential hazards?

    Yes, allergens are identified in the database as potential hazards. An expert panel of toxicologists, food safety experts, and legal experts was convened by USP to devise a framework for categorizing adulterants in the database with respect to their hazard potential. The framework used by USP scientific staff to categorize all adulterants in the database can be provided by contacting ffdsupport@usp.org
  • How far does the Food Fraud Database go back in history?

    While the Food Fraud Database has records dating back to the 1800's, the focus of the database is making information since 1980 available.
  • How many ingredients are in the database?

    There are more than 4,300 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.
  • How many records are in the database?

    There are currently more than 5,000 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"
  • What is the definition of an Incident?

    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.
  • What is the definition of an Inference record?

    An inference record is documentation 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.
  • What is the definition of a Surveillance record?

    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 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.
  • What is the definition of a Method record?

    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.
  • How is "Weight of Evidence" determined?

    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 provided by contacting ffdsupport@usp.org
  • Can I search for multiple record types?

    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.
  • Can I find company names in the database?

    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. USP believes 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.
  • How often is the FFD USP News of Interest updated?

    The FFD USP News of Interest is updated on an ad hoc basis when we have news or updates that are relevant to our members.
  • Are my searches confidential?

    Yes. USP takes privacy very seriously and takes significant steps to ensure all user entered information is kept confidential. Please see our privacy policy to learn more.
  • Does USP analyze user data?

    USP may analyze user data in an aggregated form to inform USP scientists and developers how to improve the food fraud database and the products and services offered to our stakeholders.
  • When does my subscription expire?

    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: custsvc@usp.org
    • Fax: +1-301-816-8148
    • Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 4:30 AM to 6:00 PM EST
  • On the geographic distribution analytics tab, why does it show that there are some incidents however no country comes up on the map or in the legend?

    This indicates that there is an incident in the database; however, information about the location of production or distribution was not available.
  • Does food fraud apply to food packaging materials? Do we need to make the assessment and plan?

    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.”
  • Can I integrate data and ingredients from my internal company system into the Food Fraud Database v2.0?

    It is recommended that you create your own ingredient groups and saved searches within the Food Fraud Database. It is not possible to import ingredients from other systems due to the wide variety of systems and naming conventions that are used. Please contact USP at foods@usp.org if you would like assistance in creating your ingredient groups and saved searches.
  • Are USP-curated Ingredient groups guaranteed to be all inclusive?

    These USP curated Groups are not guaranteed to be all inclusive. They are a starting point for searching within the database. When applicable we have included the notes or rules used when the Group was created - for example: Nutritive Sweeteners does not include Honey. Please review the ingredients included in the group to determine if they are applicable to your needs.
  • Does the database provide information about the regulatory status of ingredient and adulterant substances?

    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 regulatory status of ingredients and additives.
  • Can anyone else see the groups I create?

    The groups that one creates are specific to that user profile and cannot be viewed by anyone else.
  • What internet browsers are supported with the Food Fraud Database?

    The Food Fraud Database is supported using Microsoft Internet Explorer 11.0 and Google Chrome.
  • Will the Food Fraud Database tell me what the economic cost is of a fraudulent or adulterated ingredient?

    No, the intent of the FFD is to help users identify records of food fraud. A determination of economic cost of each record is not provided.
  • What if I am not certain I am using the FFD properly or in the most effective manner?

    Please contact the USP at foods@usp.org for training and/or assistance in using the FFD.
  • Why is it not considered food fraud with 90% + of wasabi we buy being horseradish rather than actual wasabi?

    Many foods are not subject to “standards of identity,” i.e., requirements that specifically prescribe appropriate names and compositional criteria. 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. There are cases in which whole or partial substitution of food products would constitute “food fraud,” but it is not possible to develop a bright-line rule or general definition to describe all such cases.
  • Is it considered food fraud if product is labeled as champagne or tequila and is sold as such but not from that region?

    Not all foods are subject to requirements expressly governing appellation of origin, i.e., requirements restricting the use of specific terms to specific areas of production. In the absence of clear requirements related to geographical indication, 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. There are cases in which the use of label terms to mislead consumers as to the origin of a food product would constitute “food fraud,” but it is not possible to develop a bright-line rule or general definition to describe all such cases.
  • If a company declares an allergen that is not present in the product, is it considered labeling food fraud?

    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 fact-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.”