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Food Fraud/EMA

Innovative tools to mitigate economically motivated adulteration

FPDI EMA research and tools reduce the vulnerability of the foods we eat to EMA by understanding the factors that drive the incentive and opportunity for EMA. These factors including economic incentives, the availability of effective analytical testing methodologies for food ingredients, and food supply chain structures. We are using novel data sources for early warning of increased vulnerability to EMA to protect the health of consumers, as well as maintain consumer confidence in the food system.

What is EMA?

EMA, often called “food fraud,” is the deliberate adulteration or misrepresentation of foods or food ingredients for economic gain. This can include dilution (this has occurred in juices and olive oil), substitution (one example is “species swapping” with fish), origin masking (this has occurred with imported honey), or the addition of an unapproved additive (such as antibiotics or dyes). The goal of EMA is to make money; therefore, perpetrators do not intend to cause illnesses or deaths in consumers. However, perpetrators have made mistakes, and EMA incidents have resulted in thousands of illnesses and hundreds of deaths in consumers. Visit our EMA FAQ here.

Why is EMA important?

We are concerned about EMA because it increases the public health risks to consumers, it reduces oversight and control in the food supply chain, it removes consumers’ ability to make informed food choices, and it can price legitimate food producers out of the market. In 2008, adulteration of milk in China with the industrial chemical melamine caused illnesses in hundreds of thousands of infants, and at least six died. Potentially carcinogenic substances such as industrial dyes have been added to products such as spices. In the 1980s, Austrian wines that were adulterated with the chemical diethylene glycol for taste and body were recalled in the U.S.

EMA Resources at FPDI

EMA Incidents Database Dashboard



Food Adulteration Incidents Registry (FAIR)

The Food Protection and Defense Institute’s Food Adulteration Incidents Registry (FAIR) is a compilation of historical and current events involving economically motivated and intentional adulteration of foods on a global scale. Incidents which occurred more than 5 years ago are available for free. Subscribers have access to all available incidents including visualization. There are currently over 530 unique incidents and growing!




EMA Publications by FPDI

Karen Everstine. Policies to Proactively Address the Threat of Food Fraud. 4/30/15. Institute on Science for Global Policy. Available at:

Karen Everstine and Jeffrey Moore. Uncovering Product Vulnerability. 12/12/14. Food Quality & Safety.

Easter Strayer, S., Everstine K, Kennedy, S. (2014) Economically Motivated Adulteration of Honey: Quality Control Vulnerabilities in the International Honey Market. Food Protection Trends, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 8-14.

Karen Everstine, Amy Kircher, and Elizabeth Cunningham. The Implications of Food Fraud. 6/5/13. Food Quality & Safety.

Everstine K, Spink J, Kennedy S. (2013) Economically motivated adulteration (EMA) of food: common characteristics of EMA incidents. J Food Prot. 2013 Apr; 76(4):723-35.

Contact Information

For media requests related to EMA or Food Fraud, contact Kelly Auxier at