You’re Not Eating The Food You Think You Are

We are victims of food fraud.

By Kevin RR Williams

NUTRITION 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 like the inset apple cider 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.

Blog: In Other Words, It's Processed

On the United States Pharmacopeial Convention website,, there is a vast searchable database of scholarly articles revealing foods that deceptively list their ingredients. The duplicity may be a simple as replacing grapefruit juice for orange juice and touting “all natural flavors” on the label. More elaborate subterfuge involves high-paid flavorologists and 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 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
Product Replacement(s)
Olive Oil hazelnut, corn oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, palm oil, walnut oil
Milk reconstituted milk powder, urea, rennet
Honey (also "maple" syrup) 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.

Blog: Nutrition Labels: Not Just Confusing, They’re Deceptive

Ingredient replacement and unlabeled supplements can trigger allergies. Are you appalled? Head on over to to view a slide show of the 11 most popular fraudulent foods with more details and links to reported claims.

Tags: charts, data, deception, health, nutritionists, registered dietitians, subterfuge