The growing problem of "food fraud"


If you are what you eat, you could be having an identity crisis. The foods we eat every day are packed with things that aren't supposed to be there. It's called food fraud and it's a growing problem.

In Europe, products sold as beef contained 100-percent horse meat. And in Asia, rat meat was being labeled as lamb. Fraud is running rampant in the United States seafood industry as well.

But are these fraud foods putting us in danger?

Fish, honey, milk, orange juice, and olive oil-what do they all have in common? They top the list when it comes to food fraud! Cheap imitations are filling up grocery store shelves.

Dr. Mark Stoeckle, a Senior Research Associate in the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University says, "One of the ways that happens is by substituting one ingredient for another. It's hard for consumers."

The top fraudster foods? Olive oil, even the extra-virgin kind is the most adulterated food, usually cut by hazelnut oil, which could pose a dangerous threat to unsuspecting nut-allergy sufferers.

And milk may not do the body good. Studies even found detergent, sugar, salt, and skim milk powder in it, none of it listed on the label.

Tea bags are sometimes being filled with lawn grass. More expensive white tuna is switched for cheaper escolar, which can cause food poisoning.

Your favorite juice is mostly apple, even if it's labeled blueberry or cranberry. Honey is also one of the most common faux foods. Some diluted with sugar syrup, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup.

Marianne Petrino, who works at Orchards of Concklin, doesn't take any chances. She sells her own honey at the farmers market.

Marianne says it's not surprising that more people are choosing to buy locally grown foods from people they know.

She says, "It's exciting. People are very concerned about what they're eating and what they're feeding their kids."

The United States grocery manufacturers association says counterfeit foods cost the industry 15-billion dollars a year.

Stoeckle says there needs to be a push for more testing and regulation on foods coming from overseas.

To track the latest on food fraud cases and learn more about other foods that are a common target, check out the food fraud data base.


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