Food fraud was recently defined in a report funded by the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (University of Minnesota) as a collective term that encompasses the deliberate substitution, addition, tampering or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients or food packaging, or false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain. A more specific type of fraud, intentional or economically motivated adulteration of food ingredients has been defined by USP's Expert Panel on Food Ingredient Intentional Adulterants as the fraudulent addition of nonauthentic substances or removal or replacement of authentic substances without the purchaser's knowledge for economic gain of the seller.
1. ORANGE CHEDDAR
Stick to white cheddar. All cheese should be white or slightly off white.
2. OLIVE OIL
some producers have been caught adulterating the oil they label as "extra virgin" with much cheaper hazelnut, soy, or sunflower seed oil, among others, as well as mislabeling its country of origin. And they keep doing it because the profits in adulterating olive oil are “comparable to cocaine trafficking, with none of the risks.” Often the well-known brand-name olive oil companies you're familiar with may not even realize that this trick has been pulled on them by unscrupulous suppliers halfway around the world--but you wind up with adulterated oil in your kitchen and on your food just the same. In recent years olive oil was the most adulterated agricultural product in the European Union, prompting the E.U.’s anti-fraud office to establish an olive-oil task force.
Unless you have a very good nose, you may not be able to tell the difference if an olive oil has been adulterated or not. Don't worry about colour. Good oils come in all shades, from green to gold to pale straw - but avoid flavours such as moldy, cooked, greasy, meaty, metallic, and cardboard. Ensure that your oil is labelled "extra virgin," since other categories--"pure" or "light" oil, "olive oil" and "olive pomace oil" - have undergone chemical refinement. If you are purchasing a full bottle of virgin olive oil for less than $10-$15 per bottle, there is a good chance it is adulterated. Since most extra virgin oil nowadays is made with centrifuges, it isn't "pressed" at all, and true extra virgin oil comes exclusively from the first processing of the olive paste. The absolute best olive oil is Ice-Pressed, a truly raw superfood.
3. TURMERIC POWDER
If you purchased turmeric powder and suspect it may be adulterated, dissolve half a spoon full of the powder in 20 ml of lukewarm water. Add a few drops of lemon juice or any commonly available acid at home. If the water turns pink, violet or purple, it shows the presence of Metanil yellow.
4. BLACK PEPPER
Some manufacturers of black pepper are known to use papaya seeds to add bulk to their product. Papaya seeds in any modest quantity can cause serious liver problems and stomach disorders.
Float the sample in alcohol. Mature black pepper corns will sink whereas papaya seeds will float to the surface.
If you really want to know if the wasabi you are consuming is the real thing, the first clue is the color which is usually slightly paler than the fake stuff. Smell wise, the real rhizome will assault your nostrils with one whiff, causing the eyes to water instantly. Taste also goes to the real rhizome -- the sushi bar stuff has a bit more ‘heat’ but the real stuff definitely has much more flavor.
6. PICKLED GINGER
Aspartame, the main ingredient in Equal, NutraSweet and Spoonful, is an artificial sweetener. Potassium sorbate gets used as a preservative. Both are toxic. The pink ginger is dyed with red food coloring.
Some attentive sushi chefs shave their own ginger and pickle it themselves, but you would need to inquire to find out.
7. CARMINIC ACID OR CARMINE
If this really grosses you out, read your ingredient lists and hopefully carminic acid or carmine will be listed instead of "added color" which could be anything.
8. GREEN CHILLIES, GREEN PEAS, OTHER GREEN VEGGIES
Take a small portion of the sample and place it over a moistened white blotting paper. Coloured impressions on the blotting paper indicate the presence of Malachite green.
9. BRIGHT RED MEAT
being treated with poisonous carbon monoxide gas. It can make seriously decayed meat look fresh for weeks. The meat industry continues to allow this toxic gas injection into many of the meat products people consume on a daily basis.
Don't buy your meat at conventional grocery retailers. The CO gas is just a small part of the problem. Hormones, antibiotics, vaccines and other chemicals injected into cattle contribute to far worse health issues. If you must eat red meat, ensure it is organic, coming from pasture-fed animals.
10. CHILI POWDER
Only purchase organic brands of chili powder which are marginally more expensive and grown without any toxic chemicals.
11. GOLDEN HONEY
Processed honey is not honey at all and if you desire any kind of health benefits, you must stick to the real stuff. But some golden honey is even adulterated with corn syrup, rice sugar and even water.
A cotton wick dipped in pure honey burns when ignited with a matchstick. Natural honey will light the match easily and the flame will burn off the honey. Fake honey will not light because of the moisture it contains.
12. INSTANT COFFEE
Gently sprinkle coffee on the surface of water in a glass. The coffee will float whereas chicory will start to sink within a few seconds. Also, the falling chicory powder will leave a trail of colour behind due to the large amounts of caramel it contains.
Karen Foster is a holistic nutritionist, avid blogger, with five kids and an active lifestyle that keeps her in pursuit of the healthiest path towards a life of balance.