‘Food Fraud’ appears to be gaining interest as an emerging risk given the increasingly global and complex nature of food supply chains. While there is numerous scholarly and media articles written on the subject that have been published, no systematic compilation of these reports exist. With this in mind UK ministers are now backing the national food crime prevention framework to ensure measures are put in place to protect consumers.
The BBC News this week reported that from December 2013 to January 2014 involved co-ordinating raids across 33 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe. More than 131,000 litres of oil and vinegar, 20 tonnes of spices and condiments, nearly 430,000 litres of counterfeit drink and 45 tonnes of dairy products were seized.
What is more disturbing is that these counterfeit products are actually killing and harming people. In China 2008 and industrial chemical, melamine, was added to increase the protein content of baby milk. Six babies died of severe kidney damage as a result. In Czech Republic in 2012 more than 40 people were killed by vodka and rum that had been laced with methanol.
‘Criminals don’t care for hygiene or bacterial content in the end product, they just want their brand name in order to get their money but at the risk of actually killing people.
This is a serious subject and the UK need to get their act together, currently it is very disjointed and different elements are dealt with via different departments.
Here is a snippet of the 10 most fraudulent foods
- Researchers have found that olive oil, even the extra-virgin, is the most adulterated food, usually cut by hazelnut oil. Other imposter ingredients include corn oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, palm oil, and walnut oil.
- If you think that milk in your coffee comes from a cow, you might be mistaken. It turns out; there may be a veritable zoo of producers in your carton. 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. Milk can even be cut with something called “fake milk”: oil, urea, detergent, caustic soda, sugar, salt, and skim milk powder.
- Honey is used for its healing antioxidants. But it’s also one of the most common fraudsters. 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 is the world’s most expensive spice, so its place on this list shouldn’t come as a surprise. What is a surprise is all the stuff sometimes mixed with it. Inside those tiny, astronomically priced bottles of saffron, scientists have found glycerine, sandalwood dust, tartrazine (a yellow dye linked to hyperactivity in children and lupus); barium sulphate (a fluid mainly used in oil well drilling); and borax.
- Orange juice is no stranger to repulsive adulterants like illegal fungicide, and now, here are a few more reasons not to trust anything you don’t squeeze from the fruit: 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.
- 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. Adulterants in instant coffee are every bit as sneaky; they include chicory, cereals, caramel, more parchment, starch, malt, and figs
- Apple juice is another contender, but sometimes its ingredients are downright guilty. 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—or perhaps more accurately known as mystery apple soup
- Researchers found that tea has been polluted with leaves from other plants, colour additives, and even coloured saw dust.
- In December 2012, the conservation group Oceana found that 39% of seafood samples bought in New York City were actually miss-labelled as a different species. The fake fish phenomenon is apparent in records, too. A US Convention found that fish labelled “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. Benign-sounding “monkfish” is even sometimes a disguise for puffer fish, which has poisonings in the US.
- That glass of fruit juice might look fresh-squeezed, but chances are, it isn’t. Fraudulent replacements for palm oil and other acceptable food ingredients are rampant: A US convention found 877 food products from 315 companies with fake clouding agents. What’s the most common fraudster? Meet the plasticizer Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), a chemical that’s been linked with cancer and thwarted reproductive development in children
The list above is just a start of the fraudster and potentially fatal ingredients we didn’t even know were out there. It proves how important it is to know that when we buy our goods that there is integrity of brand and the importance of tamper evidence!
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