We Are Victims of Food Fraud
Does the headline surprise you? Perhaps I sound like an alarmist. Consider this: Have you ever wondered why a fruit juice can remain on the shelf with “refrigerate after opening” on the label? Have you seen a package that claims, “natural and artificial flavors” but elsewhere states “contains 0% juice”? What about the baffling asterisk after 100% real juice on some bottles of your grocery shelves? Still seems circumstantial? Your lack of credulity is noted.
On the United States Pharmacopeial Convention website, FoodFraud.org, there is a vast searchable database of scholarly articles revealing foods that deceptively list their ingredients. The duplicity may be as simple as replacing grapefruit juice for orange juice and touting “all natural flavors” on the label. More elaborate subterfuge involves substitutes created by high-paid flavorologists, or omitting the mention of additives. Note one excerpt from an abstract by David I. Ellis, et al. in "Fingerprinting food: current technologies for the detection of food adulteration and contamination,” 2012:
⚠️ “Major food adulteration and contamination events seem to occur with some regularity, such as the widely publicised adulteration of [powdered] milk products with melamine and the recent microbial contamination of vegetables across Europe for example.”
Researchers found that olive oil (even the extra-virgin kind) is the most adulterated food. (No pun intended.) In order to reduce costs, unscrupulous companies illegally cut a primary ingredient with something less expensive.
|Most Adulterated Foods|
|OLIVE OIL||hazelnut, corn oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, palm oil, walnut oil|
|MILK||reconstituted milk powder, urea, rennet|
|MAPLE SYRUP (artificial)||sugar syrup, corn syrup, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, beet sugar|
|SAFFRON||glycerin, sandalwood dust, tartrazine, barium sulfate, borax|
|ORANGE JUICE||lemon juice, mandarin juice, grapefruit juice, high fructose corn syrup, paprika extract, beet sugar|
|INSTANT COFFEE||chicory, cereals, caramel, parchment, starch, malt, figs|
|TEA||leaves from other plants, color additives, colored saw dust|
|CLOUDING AGENTS||most common is plasticizer Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)*|
|*The US Pharmacopeial Convention found 877 food products from 315 companies with fake clouding agents.|
What I am about to say will gross you out. Perhaps manufacturers reason that there are worst things allowed in your food than extraneous leaves or a fruit substitute. The FDA says, “It is economically impractical to grow, harvest, or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects.”
“Defects” is a more palatable word for insect parts, maggots, mold, and rodent hairs. 🦗 Crushed oregano, for example, can contain 300 or more insect bits and about two rodent hairs for every 10 grams. Yes, food manufacturers employ people to count legs and hairs for compliance. A family-size bottle of oregano of 18 ounces or 510 grams can contain up to 15,402 “defects.” Take consolation in the fact that you do not consume an entire bottle at once. Some people eat insects as a form of protein. If this still disturbs you, perhaps it is time to start your own herb garden.
Misleading ingredient replacement and unlabeled supplements can trigger allergies. Are you appalled? Head on over to Prevention.com to view a slide show of the 11 most popular fraudulent foods with more details and links to reported claims.
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- What does 0% juice mean? coairut.tk
- Fingerprinting food: current technologies for the detection of food adulteration and contamination. dx.doi.org
- Identifying Melamine Adulteration in Milk Powder. azom.com
- Common milk adulteration and their detection techniques. biomedcentral.com
- New USP Food Fraud Database Helps Industry and Regulators Mitigate Risk of Food Adulteration. usp.org
- Food Fraud Database. foodfraud.org
- 11 Most Fraudulent Foods. prevention.com
- Bugs, rodent hair and poop: How much is legally allowed in the food you eat every day? cnn.com
Access more article features and references.