Is Fraud Tainting Your Favorite Foods?
Sigh. Our industrial food system has failed us yet again. Last year, we reported on the offensive practice of adulterating supplements (i.e. companies putting unlabeled ingredients in their vitamins), and sadly, we have more fraud to report.
This time, even your favorite staples are coming up short. Several news outlets have unveiled reports of widespread food fraud in some of the trendiest health foods on the market. Here’s what you should know about five seemingly “healthy” foods:
1. Olive oil
(Substituted with: corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, canola, hazelnut, peanut or palm oil; lard)
Olive oil is a cornerstone of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, but these scary substitutes (high in saturated and trans fats) are anything but heart healthy. Plus, for people with nut allergies, these offending olive oils can be life threatening!
The Solution: Search labels for specifics like the producer, harvest date, or region of origin. Certified European oils will have a DOP seal (Protected Designation of Origin), and U.S. olive oils will have a state certification seal. You can also check out this olive oil buying guide for tips on how to find high quality olive oil.
2. Greek Yogurt
(Substituted with: regular yogurt bulked up with milk solids, pectin, gelatin)
Authentic Greek yogurt is made by straining out the whey in yogurt made from just two ingredients: milk and cultures. Capitalizing on the characteristic thick texture of Greek yogurt, companies are skirting the more expensive process by adding cheap thickening agents to regular yogurt and slapping on a “Greek-style” seal.
The Solution: Check labels to make sure only two ingredients live in your Greek yogurt: milk and live cultures.
(Substituted with: processed flours, twigs, flower pollen and petals)
Reports of spice adulteration have indicted the use of rice flour, buckwheat flour, actual flowers, and even bits of twig (yes, like branches) to bulk up spices. But the most adulterated spice is saffron. It takes about 43,000 handpicked stigmata from the saffron crocus flowers to produce just one pound of saffron spice. Sneaky spice manufacturers sometimes mix in stigmata and petals from other flowers (like marigolds) or less expensive spices (like turmeric and onion powder).
The Solution: Let your taste buds guide you. If you are not getting that rich saffron taste in your paellas, you might want to sample some other brands. When possible, buy your spices whole and grind them at home using an affordable spice grinder.
4. Honey & Maple Sugar
(Substituted with: High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), refined sugar)
In a world tainted by artificial sweeteners and processed sugars, health-conscious consumers often reach for raw honey or maple sugar to lessen their toxic load. Food Safety News estimates that over 75% of honey in the U.S. has been so adulterated and stripped of pollen that it can’t even be called real honey. Yikes!
The Solution: Go local. The closer you can get to the source, the more details you can learn about the manufacturing process. Also, local, organic honey often has the highest pollen content; and more pollen = better quality.
(Substituted with: Chicory root, caramel, malt, glucose, legumes, ground corn, sweet potatoes, maltodextrin)
As with spices, coffee producers use bulking agents to increase the weight of their product without actually adding, well, more coffee.
The Solution: Buy your coffee in whole beans and grind them at home!
Fake Foods Feed Cellular TOIL
Perhaps the worst part about food fraud is the havoc added toxins can wreak on your body’s trillions of cells. Dr. Rodier’s cellular TOIL model explains what happens when cells are exposed to environmental toxins and processed particles, and it’s not a pretty picture. The resulting oxidation, inflammation, and lack of mitochondrial energy put your body on the fast track to chronic disease.
Food Fraud Database
So, what do you do? As always, read labels religiously. If anything “extra” seems to have slipped its way in – put it back on the shelf. You can also check out the U.S. Pharmacopoeia’s Food Fraud Database to find foods that have been independently reported as fakes.
Our Promise: We Meet Label Claims!
The nutritional supplement industry is sadly similar to our fraudulent Big Food culture and cheaters are everywhere. When it comes to quality, we take cues from our feline friends and consider “fussy” and “finicky” quite the badge of honor. We’ll always give you authentic ingredients in the labeled amounts, without any thinning agents or fake facsimiles. How can we be sure? We independently test every production of our supplements for quality and potency. If a batch doesn’t meet our rigorous standards, we reject it. It’s that simple…and actually quite rare.