When you sit down at your local restaurant or go food shopping at your local supermarket, do you really know what you’re eating? If you think you do then you might want to think again.
Key findings from a report by the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) reveal that food adulteration or “food fraud” have increased by 60% since 2010.
The USP describes food fraud as “the deliberate substitution, addition, tampering or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients or food packaging, or false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain.”
In some cases food are diluted with ingredients not listed on the label or the food was entirely different than it claimed to be. Some foods contained undisclosed “clouding agents” including the cancer-causing, reproductive system damaging plasticizer Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP).
Examples of seafood fraud include sale of the fish escolar, fraudulently mislabeled as white tuna or butterfish. Escolar is banned in many countries due to its high content of waxy esters that can cause a special form or food poisoning called gempylotoxism or gempylid fish poisoning. Another example involves the puffer fish being mislabeled as monkfish to evade import and other restriction due to the fact that, if not properly processed it causes tetrodotoxin poisonings.
While food fraud has gone on for ages, it is becoming much more prevalent today.
10 of the Most Common Fraudulent Foods:
• OLIVE OIL – is often diluted with other less expensive oils, including hazelnut, soybean, corn, sunflower, palm, sesame, grape seed and walnut.
• MILK – is often found to contain vegetable oil, whey, caustic soda, cane sugar, detergent and even toxic compounds like melamine and formaldehyde.
• HONEY – is often not honey but a mix of high-fructose corns syrup, sucrose syrup, invert beet sugar, water and essential oils.
• SAFFRON – the world’s most expensive spice often contains fillers such as glycerin, sandalwood dust, tartrazine (yellow dye), barium sulfate, borax, marigold flowers and even colored corn strings.
• ORANGE JUICE – may include lemon juice, sugar water, paprika extract, marigold flower extract and synthetic sugar/acid mixture.
• COFFEE – both ground and instant may contain roasted corn, ground parchment, barley, coffee twigs, potato flower, malt, chicory and caramel.
• APPLE JUICE – is often adulterated with corn syrup, raisin sweetener, malic acid, beet sugar and other juices such as grape, pineapple, pear and fig.
• TEA – may harbor sand, sawdust, starch, China clay, used tea leaves and color additives, all without being mentioned on the label.
• FISH – 60% of fish labeled tuna in the US is not actually tuna. 84% of “white” tuna sold as sushi is actually escolar. One-third of fish sampled across the US were found to be mislabeled, substituted for cheaper, less desirable and/or more readily available fish varieties. 87% of fish sold as snapper was actually some other type of fish.
• BLACK PEPPER – is often diluted with juniper berries, papaya seeds, starch, buckwheat flour and millet seeds.
The best way to avoid this mounting problem is to try to eat foods as close as possible to they way they are found in nature.
• Choose foods with the least possible amount of processing. Use lemons instead of bottled lemon juice, buy whole black pepper or coffee beans and ground them yourself.
• Purchase the whole fish whenever possible and be wary if the price is too low. You may be buying a different fish than labeled.
• Stick with store and brands you know and trust.
For more in-depth information, to check out how your favorite foods rank and to report food fraud you come upon visit: