The adulteration of food has received substantial amounts of media attention in the last few years, with events such as the European horsemeat scandal in 2013 sending shockwaves through society. Almost all cases are motivated by the pursuit of profits and are often aided by long and complex supply chains. In the past few years, the rapid growth of ambient mass spectrometry (AMS) has been remarkable, with over thirty different ambient ionisation techniques available. Due to the increasing concerns of the food industry and regulators worldwide, AMS is now being utilised to investigate whether or not it can generate results which are faster yet comparable to those of conventional techniques. This article reviews some aspects of the adulteration of food and its impact on the economy and the public's health, the background to ambient mass spectrometry and the studies that have been undertaken to detect food adulteration using this technology.