The Fake Foods Infiltrating Kitchens
An essential part of eating healthy is reading food labels. But what if you couldn’t trust what’s written there? It’s becoming more of a problem, says the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), a nonprofit food, medicine, and supplement watchdog group.
Last year, after examining more than 1,300 studies and media reports, the organization released the first Food Fraud Database. They discovered that a number of products—from olive oil to fruit juice—contain fake ingredients and/or cheap fillers. Tomorrow, they'll update that database with nearly 800 new records. Food fraud is up by 60 percent this year, says the USP.
Which faux food reigns supreme? A popular superfood you may have in your fridge.
“Pomegranate juice is a high-value ingredient and a high-priced ingredient, and adulteration appears to be widespread,” Markus Lipp, senior director for Food Standards for the independent lab in Maryland, told ABC News. “It can be adulterated with other food juices…additional sugar, or just water and sugar.” Some versions even contain “synthetic pomegranate juice”, which contains none of the real juice.
Seafood is also a frequent offender. Escolar, an oily fish that can cause digestive problems, is sometimes served instead of white tuna or albacore at sushi restaurants. Even something as simple as tea gets diluted with lawn grass or fern leaves.
Fraudulent foods are obviously a rip-off, but some experts believe they may also make you sick. “There's absolutely a public health risk,” John Spink, associate director for the Anti-Counterfeit and Product Protection Program (A-CAPPP) at Michigan State University told ABC News. “And the key is the people that are unauthorized to handle this product, they are probably not following good manufacturing practices and so there could be contaminates in it.”
Sally Greenberg, executive director for the National Consumers League, recommends checking olive oil for a harvest date, or in the case of products such as honey and lemon juice, just avoiding items that have a too-good-to-be-true price. Spink adds that “purchasing from "suppliers, retailers, brands, that have a vested interest in keeping us as repeat customers” may also help.
For more information, read The 7 Most Fraudulent Foods.
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