Food Fraud

Eating a healthy, whole food diet is challenging in this country. Ironically, as one of the wealthiest nations in the world, we have some of the WORST food available. We know our food over processed, GMO laden, contaminated with a plethora of chemicals and additives. Enter a new breed of evil, unscrupulous companies illegally cutting a primary ingredient with something less expensive in order to reduce costs. Some companies are even trying to scam you by selling you something that is not even the food listed!

New scientific examination by the non-profit food fraud detectives the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), discovered rising numbers of fake ingredients in products from olive oil to spices to fruit juice.

In a new database to be released Wednesday, and obtained exclusively by ABC News today, USP warns consumers, the FDA and manufacturers that the amount of food fraud they found is up by 60 percent this year.

So what is food fraud? Well, it’s exactly what the name implies. It’s companies labeling food one way, but the contents are completely different.

7 Most Fraudulent Foods

Olive Oil
Researchers found that olive oil, even the extra-virgin kind, is the most adulterated food. It is usually cut by hazelnut oil. (Sound good to any nut-allergy sufferers out there?) Other imposter oils include corn oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, palm oil, and walnut oil.

Buy organic

If you think that milk in your coffee comes from a cow, you might be mistaken. Sheep’s milk has been found to be cut with bovine milk, and buffalo milk with goat-antelope milk. Milk was even cut with something called “fake milk”: oil, urea, detergent, caustic soda, sugar, salt, and skim milk powder.

Buy local. Buy organic.

Honey has been a sweetener of choice for millennia. It’s packed with healing antioxidants that has many benefits. But it’s also one of the most common fraudsters. It’s not uncommon to find sugar syrup, corn syrup, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, beet sugar, and “honey from a non-authentic geographic origin” in that bottle—rendering it what we’ll call not-honey. Some honey is also likely laced with illegal Chinese antibiotics and heavy metals, according to Food Safety News. Not only do you have to worry about what someone added to your honey but how the honey was made. Most honey companies routinely feed their hives HFCS!!! Crazy…I highly recommend this documentary, Vanishing of the Bees.
Find a local beekeeper and choose raw honey.

Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice, so it’s not surprising that it’s on this list. What is a surprise is the stuff its mixed with it. Scientists have found glycerin, sandalwood dust, tartrazine (a yellow dye linked to hyperactivity in children and lupus); barium sulfate (a fluid mainly used in oil well drilling); and borax.

Buy organic from a well known, responsible company.

Orange Juice
Orange juice tested has shown to contain illegal fungicide along with unlisted lemon juice, mandarin juice, grapefruit juice, high fructose corn syrup, paprika extract, and beet sugar. Yum.

Juice your own! More vitamins and enzymes in fresh juice.

Researchers have found roasted corn, ground roasted barley, and even roasted ground parchment. Adulterants in instant coffee include; chicory, cereals, caramel, more parchment, starch, malt, and figs.

Buy from a local cafe that roasts their own beans.

Apple Juice
Apple juice is often blended with grape juice, high fructose corn syrup, pear juice, pineapple juice, raisin sweetener, fig juice, fructose, and malic acid have all been detected in apple juice.

If you MUST have apple juice, get a juicer.

Case in point. A few weeks ago I was listening to This American Life on NPR. The theme, doppelgängers. A reporter from the radio show heard a story he couldn’t believe was true — that hog rectum was sometimes used as imitation calamari and served to unsuspecting diners. So he looked into it himself.

Despite a source in the story reporting first-hand knowledge of the alleged switch , there’s some debate over whether hog parts could pass as squid. So staff from the show went to the market, fried some up and served it. Most of the people who tried it couldn’t tell the difference between the hog parts and squid.

I’ve since read that this was a hoax and that the imitation calamari was just an urban legend. Personally, I’m not buying it not do I trust industrial meat processing plants.

Tuesday, the United States Pharmacopeial Convention released report that listed a number of fraudulent foods. Seafood was one of the biggest offenders.

Something Fishy is Going On…
The fish escolar, often fraudulently mislabeled as white tuna or butterfish (*Escolar is banned in Italy and Japan. Other countries have issued advisories on the trade and consumption of this fish. Escolar has high content of waxy esters that is likely to cause a special form of food poisoning called gempylotoxism or gempylid fish poisoning.) it appears that fish mislabeling has taken over NYC restaurants.


Oceana, an ocean conservation group, found mislabeled fish in all 16 sushi restaurants its researchers visited. Yet fish fraud was rampant at all sorts of New York venues. Thirty-nine percent of the samples taken from non-sushi restaurants were mislabeled, in addition to 40 percent of those bought at small fish markets and 12 percent of those purchased at major grocery chains.

What are we to do???
Five hundred prominent chefs and restaurateurs recently sent Congress a petition on the issue. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) wrote a letter asking for action on the issue from the FDA, and this past summer Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) introduced the proposed Safety And Fraud Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE Seafood) Act, which Oceana argues would cut down significantly on mislabeled fish. Sadly, when I checked it appeared the bill was dead and referred to committee.

Knowledge is power and your dollar is your vote. Choosing to use local and organic products will only increase demand and grow the industry. Always ask questions when ordering at restaurants and buying groceries.

Just when you thought it was safe to go grocery shopping…DAH DA DAAAAAH!

In good health
~ Sarah


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