4.1 Try the following exercises

There are two publicly available databases that contain information on the incidence of detected food fraud and adulteration:

And in the US, we have Food Adulteration Incidents Registry (FAIR) (You need to register to access the limited version of FAIR)

Click on the above links (and register if required) and explore both sites.


  1. In RASFF, search: ‘Herbs and Spices’ in the Product category and ‘Adulteration/fraud’ in the Hazard category.
    How many notifications did you get in the search result? Note that you can change the search date and countries too.
  2. In FAIR, select: EMA (Economically Motivated Adulteration) in Type of Incident, Herbs, Spices and Seasonings in Food Category.
    How many notifications did you get in the search result?

The following are the top food categories subjected to fraud/adulteration as reported in RASFF (2002 – 2015)

Figure 1. Notifications for the hazard type called “fraud/adulteration” of the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) database in the top 5 food categories (other food product/mixed was excluded from the analysis) from 2002-2015.

Review the trendlines in Figure 1 critically. Obviously there’s a huge spike in 2013 under the ‘Meat and meat products (including poultry)’.

  1. What do you think causes the increase? (Hint – What was one of the biggest scandal associated with meat that occurred around that time ?)
  2. If you were to analyse the overall trends, do you think the number of notifications for fraud/adulteration is underreported? Why?

Answer: The trends in the number of fraud/adulteration incidents recorded could be influenced by a range of factors including specific incidents such as the 2013 horsemeat incident and changes in legislation which affects the number of sampling (See Manning and Soon, 2019).