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Grocery Manufacturers Association, Bettelle partner to combat food fraud with EMAlert tool

FBR Staff Writer Published 20 April 2016

US-based trade organisation the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and technology company Battelle have partnered to provide a secure, web-based software tool called EMAlert, which allows food manufacturers to review and understand company-specific food frauds during the manufacturing process.

The food frauds that are committed at manufacturing stages are commonly called economically motivated adulteration (EMA).

GMA science policy & regulatory affairs vice president Shannon Cooksey said: "The impact on any particular company can range from minor economic damage to the potential loss of economic viability of the organization.

"GMA joined with Battelle, the world's largest non-profit research and development (R&D) organization, to develop a better way of prioritizing the actual risks to specific commodity supply chains at any time, so that decision makers can best apply their resources to the vulnerabilities of greatest importance."

EMAlert also assists manufacturers in meeting the specified requirements of FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule.

The compliance requires companies to set up and implement a food safety system for evaluation of hazards introduced for economic gains. The compliance date for some companies will be effective from September 2016.

Battelle principal research scientist Ashley Kubatko said: "EMAlert works by providing quantitative estimates of an organization's vulnerability to EMA for each commodity included in the analysis based on a combination of characteristic attributes and subject matter expert-based weightings.

"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."

With the scrutiny of the vulnerabilities, food safety and defense professionals may also be able to identify alternate strategies such as identifying suppliers from a more favorable region of the world or investing in research to develop identity tests for targeted commodities.