8 Food Fakes

Are you getting what you pay for at the grocery store? Maybe...maybe not.

February 7, 2013
Sniffing Out Food Fraud
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The U.S. has one of the safest food supplies in the world. But that doesn't mean it's perfect. In fact, shoppers here are just as likely as shoppers anywhere in the world to succumb to the growing problem of food fraud, cases of unscrupulous food producers adding cheaper ingredients to a product, for instance, cheaper oils rather than olive oil, but advertising it as the real thing. "Food fraud attempts to cheat the market by selling a substandard product and trying to get away with it," says Markus Lipp, senior director of food standards at U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), which recently launched an online database of independently documented food fraud instances.

For a long time, food fraud was mostly associated with expensive foods--there's a lot of opportunity in being able to sell cheaper caviar by selling catfish eggs instead of the real thing--but now, Lipp says his group is seeing more instances of cheap foods, such as fruit juice or rice, succumbing to the problem. "It happens whenever someone sees an opportunity to make money," he says, no matter how much a product costs. So what can you do about it? It takes vigilance and some knowledge about how you might be getting defrauded at the grocery store. Here are some of the most commonly defrauded foods, according to the USP's database at foodfraud.org

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