'Food fraud' a growing problem in grocery stores

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by KING 5 HealthLInk

khou.com

Posted on December 20, 2013 at 11:29 AM

If you are what you eat, you could be having an identity crisis. Foods we eat every day could include ingredients that aren't supposed to be the there. It's called "food fraud" and its a growing problem.

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.

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

High cost ingredients are especially susceptible to fraud, says Stoeckle. More expensive products are being replaced with cheaper imposters.

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 those with nut-allergies.

Even milk can contain added sugar and salt, and skim powder - 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.

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 are diluted with sugar syrup, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup. And according to Food Safety News, some honey being shipped from China is laced with antiobiotics and heavy metals.

Marianne Petrino sells her own honey at the farmers market.

But if you can't make your own, how do you protect yourself and your family? First, buy a whole lemon instead of lemon juice. Buy loose leaf tea instead of tea bags. Purchase whole spices, but don't buy into the newest food trend. And most importantly, rely on reputable sources you can trust. That means buying locally, if you can.

Activitists believe there also needs to be a push for more testing and regulation on foods coming from overseas.

Resource links:

U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention food fraud database

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