EXCLUSIVE: Group Finds More Fake Ingredients in Popular Foods
JIM AVILA (@JimAvilaABC) and SERENA MARSHALL (@SerenaMarsh)
Jan. 22, 2013
It’s what we expect as shoppers—what’s in the food will be displayed on the label.
But a new scientific examination by the non-profit food fraud detectives the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), discovered rising numbers of fake ingredients in products from olive oil to spices to fruit juice.
“Food products are not always what they purport to be,” Markus Lipp, senior director for Food Standards for the independent lab in Maryland, told ABC News.
In a new database to be released Wednesday, and obtained exclusively by ABC News today, USP warns consumers, the FDA and manufacturers that the amount of food fraud they found is up by 60 percent this year.
USP, a scientific nonprofit that according to their website “sets standards for the identity, strength, quality, and purity of medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed and consumed worldwide” first released the Food Fraud Database in April 2012.
The organization examined more than 1,300 published studies and media reports from 1980-2010. The update to the database includes nearly 800 new records, nearly all published in 2011 and 2012.
Among the most popular targets for unscrupulous food suppliers? Pomegranate juice, which is often diluted with grape or pear juice.
“Pomegranate juice is a high-value ingredient and a high-priced ingredient, and adulteration appears to be widespread,” Lipp said. “It can be adulterated with other food juices…additional sugar, or just water and sugar.”
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Lipp added that there have also been reports of completely “synthetic pomegranate juice” that didn’t contain any traces of the real juice.
USP tells ABC News that liquids and ground foods in general are the easiest to tamper with:
Olive oil: often diluted with cheaper oils
Lemon juice: cheapened with water and sugar
Tea: diluted with fillers like lawn grass or fern leaves
Spices: like paprika or saffron adulterated with dangerous food colorings that mimic the colors
Milk, honey, coffee and syrup are also listed by the USP as being highly adulterated products.
Also high on the list:seafood. The number one fake being escolar, an oily fish that can cause stomach problems, being mislabeled as white tuna or albacore, frequently found on sushi menus.
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