New Report Finds Food Fraud Up 60% From Last Year

By on January 23, 2013

Today, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), a scientific nonprofit organization that helps set standards for the “quality, safety and benefit” of foods and medicines, released its new report of food fraud that included almost 800 new records indicating a 60% increase from last year.  According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), food fraud is adulteration, dilution or mislabeling of goods.

The USP’s searchable online database of food fraud reports, found at foodfraud.org, shows that the most common fraudulent products are olive oil, milk, saffron, honey and coffee.  Other popular adulterated products include tea, fish, clouding agents (used in fruit juices, like lemon, to make products look freshly squeezed), maple syrup and spices (turmeric, black pepper and chili pepper).

Many foods are altered by adding fillers instead of using more expensive spices or liquids for instance such as adding plant leaves to tea leaves or cheaper fruit like pears and grapes to pomegrante juice.   Another common fraud, uncovered by  Oceana, is the mislabeling of white tuna or white fish, which might be escolar, a fish the FDA issues a health warning about.  Oceana’s recent investigation uncovered that nearly 1/3 of seafood tested was mislabeled.

Consumers today are becoming more aware of the food they are purchasing and where it comes from.  With the increased scrutiny of labels, consumer outrage at mislabeling and fraudulent representations is more likely as well.