Elizabeth Weise of USA Today writes that foods masquerading as something else — a more nutritious something else — have been big news in the past two years.
Chinese food companies in particular have been blamed for making deadly alterations to dairy, baby and pet foods by adding melamine. The chemical makes it appear that the food or beverage has the required level of protein.
But what about food producers in this country? What fraudulent foods do U.S. consumers have to fear from American companies?
Fish is the most frequently faked food Americans buy. In the business, it’s called "species adulteration" — selling a cheaper fish such as pen-raised Atlantic salmon as wild Alaska salmon.
This luxury oil, touted for its heart-health properties and taste, has become a gourmet must-have. Americans consumed about 575 million pounds of the silky stuff last year, according to the North American Olive Oil Association. Sixty-three percent was the higher-grade extra virgin, which comes from the first pressing of the olives. It’s also one of the most frequently counterfeited food products, says Martin Stutsman, the FDA’s consumer safety officer for edible oils.
An expensive natural product that’s mostly sugar, honey is easily faked. "If you can substitute a less expensive source of sugar for the expensive one, you can save some money and gain market share," says the FDA’s Stutsman.
A product of the tropics, vanilla pods can be soaked in milk or stored in sugar to impart a delicate vanilla scent to foods. More commonly, they’re soaked in alcohol that is then used as a flavoring.
Maple syrup is another high-value item that can be adulterated. In these tough economic times, Vermont, the USA’s largest supplier to flapjacks everywhere, may up its testing programs.
But Quebec is the world’s largest producer of maple syrup. And I am not from Quebec.