‘Food Fraud’ A Growing Problem In Grocery Stores


Ever feel like your food doesn’t taste quite right; the milk taste a little chalky or the tea a little too green? Well you might be right, according to a recent report from the United States Pharmacopeial Convention. In order to reduce costs, unethical companies are illegally cutting primary ingredient with something less expensive.

The Food Fraud Database  tracks known cases, which can offer you some protections, but knowing which products are most commonly affected and buying only trusted brands is a smart preventative measure. Here is a great list of suspects originally published by Prevention Magazine.

10 most fraudulent foods:

OLIVE OIL - Researchers found that olive oil—yes, even the extra-virgin kind—is the most adulterated food, usually cut by hazelnut oil. (Sound good to any nut-allergy sufferers out there?) Other impostor ingredients include corn oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, palm oil, and walnut oil.

PEPPER - The second spice to show up on the list, pepper has a history of being tainted with starch, papaya seeds, flour, buckwheat, and millet—and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

MILK - Sheep’s milk has been found to be cut with bovine milk, and buffalo milk with goat-antelope milk. Milk was also adulterated with reconstituted milk powder, urea, and rennet. But wait, there’s more! Milk was even cut with something called “fake milk”: oil, urea, detergent, caustic soda, sugar, salt, and skim milk powder.

HONEY - You may also 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 from abroad and heavy metals, according to Food Safety News.

SAFFRON - Inside those tiny, astronomically priced bottles of saffron, 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.

ORANGE JUICE - OJ has been shown to host unlisted lemon juice, mandarin juice, grapefruit juice, high fructose corn syrup, paprika extract, and beet sugar as some of its uninvited guests.

COFFEE - Nothing starts a morning right like a fresh-brewed cup of…twigs? Believe it or not, researchers have found them in coffee, along with roasted corn, ground roasted barley, and even roasted ground parchment.

APPLE JUICE - 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

TEA - Researchers found that tea has been polluted with leaves from other plants, color additives, and even colored saw dust.

FISH - In December 2012, the conservation group Oceana found that 39% of seafood samples bought in New York City were actually mislabeled as a different species. The fake fish phenomenon is apparent in records, too. The US Pharmacopeial Convention found that fish labeled “white tuna” and “butterfish” are often a fish called escolar, which is banned in Italy and Japan for its waxy esters, which may cause food poisoning.