Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Food Science and Technology

Major Professor

Jennifer K. Richards

Committee Members

Faith Critzer, Phil Perkins

Abstract

The United States of America has numerous safeguards in place to protect our food supply, including federal regulations and the food and beverage industry’s dedication to food safety. One of the issues that the food and beverage industry continuously battles is the prevalence of intentional adulteration. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) specifically addresses intentional adulteration and its sub-category of economically motivated adulteration (EMA) by requiring all facilities that supply food to the US to assess the vulnerabilities within their operation in order to prevent events that could cause public harm. The purposes of this study are threefold: (1) to better understand industry’s perception of EMA (2) to assess how industry determines ingredients at risk for EMA and (3) to determine the extent to which a tool that assesses ingredient vulnerability would be useful to industry.

This study surveyed individuals working for food and beverage companies in departments associated with the selection, purchase, or processing of ingredients. Questionnaire items assessed their companies’ view of EMA, FSMA’s impact on their companies’ view on EMA, and examined their perception of EMA and ingredient safety. The data was analyzed for major themes.

Participants (n=36) overwhelmingly agreed, 88.9%, that some ingredients are at higher risk for EMA. Results show 37% of participants say that their operation is “somewhat vulnerable” to “very vulnerable” to EMA and 55.6% rank EMA as one of their company’s top 5 food safety and quality assurance concerns. Specific ingredients such as “honey”, “seafood”, “olive oil”, and “spices” were mentioned as higher risk ingredients. Other participants explained ingredients “supplied from China” and “high value and high demand raw materials” as well as “changes in the market” inflate the risk of EMA. The most common factors that impacted the perception of risk of EMA included the originating location of the ingredient (80.6%), supplier reliability (88.9%), historic instance of EMA (88.9%), and the value of the ingredient (86.1%).

EMA is a large concern for those who completed this questionnaire. Most respondents noting that even when they feel their operation is secure against EMA, it is still a top 5 priority.

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