- Food and Cooking
Modern Food Scams You Need to Know About
Scams of all the different kinds are the order of the day in a fraudulent society like ours. It is small wonder, then, that food scams have also become a part of our lives – without our knowledge. Although we ignore such things as fraudulent mails and text messages spamming our inbox and know better than to purchase items that proclaim themselves as being authentic if they are sold at places of questionable reputation, even the most wary of us tend to overlook food frauds. Foods are often mislabeled & adulterated and in the global economy of the 21st century, these can easily be sent to millions of people all over the world. There are several modern food scams that everyone should keep an eye out for – we have listed some of these for you, so look no further.
According to a study conducted by the Journal of Food Sciences, faux fish represented a whopping 9% of all cases of food fraud. It is easy to pass off one species of fish as another, especially to inexperienced buyers who are unable to tell the difference; this becomes even easier when the item is canned or packaged in a way that prevents the customer from verifying the contents of the pack until it has been paid for. Farmed fish get sold at much steeper prices on account of being advertised as more exotic versions of the original. Often, fish that have very high mercury content and should be avoided are packaged and sold at supermarkets or major food chains. The only way to ensure that one is buying fresh fish and exactly the species that it claims to be, is to buy it whole from the market.
Food Label Scams
Oil is one of the most commonly adulterated food products to be found on the modern market and olive oil especially so, on account of its being the healthiest alternative for cooking as well as such daily needs as skincare – as a result of which it is bought more frequently and in more amounts than all other kinds of oil. It has been found that olive oil, including the extra virgin variety, is often cut with large amounts of hazelnut, sunflower, corn or peanut oil, among several others.
Alcohol frauds are not news to those who know that faux wines are sold on the market with almost alarming frequency. Cheaper vintages are relabeled and sold at higher prices and most of us not being connoisseurs of the drink, it is hard to differentiate one wine from another. Of late, fake vodkas have stormed the market, adulterated as they are with potentially lethal substances such as anti-freeze and other chemicals. The only way one can spot a fake is by keeping a close eye on the labeling, as that is how counterfeiters try to fool consumers.
Spices are the easiest food substance to adulterate, because they are not only easy to mix, but are bought in such small amounts that it is near impossible for the buyer to notice anything amiss unless they are on the lookout for fraudulent material. Spices that are most commonly adulterated include saffron, turmeric, paprika and chili powder. Chinese star anise is often replaced with its toxic Japanese counterpart, while what is sold as paprika may turn out to be the flavorless extracts left behind from other processed spices. The only way to avoid buying adulterated spices, toxic or not, is to purchase the items from a reliable seller.
Avoid Healthy Food Scams
Honey, with its antioxidants and antibacterial properties, is great for health and skincare. But the honey we regularly buy from the market tends to be of less than reliable quality: as with oil and spices, it is easy to adulterate. What we think is pure honey more often than not tends to be laced with generous amounts of sugar or corn syrup, fructose, glucose, beet sugar and other such substances. Food Safety News reports that some of the honey sold on the market may even be adulterated with heavy metals or illegal antibiotics. Again, the only way to buy the authentic product is to do so from a reliable place.
Fruit juice is often and easily adulterated without much change in taste or consistency and reports claim that orange juice accounts for 4% of such cases of food fraud in the US, while apple juice accounts for 2%. The more common juices are often diluted with water, whereas the unusual and expensive kind, such as pomegranate juice, may be cut with apple juice. To avoid being tricked into buying such products, one must stick to a trusted label and also avoid jumping onto the trend bandwagon.
It seems there is no food substance that fraudsters find difficult to adulterate. That coffee should feature on this list, then, is hardly surprising. All too often, ground coffee beans have been found to be mixed with roasted corn, roasted barley and even – believe it or not – twigs and roasted ground parchment. The list is quite innovative as far as instant coffee is concerned as well: besides parchment, it includes chicory, caramel, cereal, malt, figs and starch. Although it may be difficult to avoid buying adulterated coffee, one is less likely to be tricked if they do enough research before going to the market. It is also important, as always, to stick to a trusted brand.
That milk is often diluted with water is a fact most of us are aware of but tend to ignore. What we may not know, however, is that after being watered down, milk is usually laced with melamine, which helps to hide the dilution by increasing protein content. The only thing one can do to avoid buying such milk as far as possible is to keep a very close eye on the product. The alternative to being extra careful is nothing short of terrible sickness.