Fibbing About Food
You May Not Be Getting What You Think
A non-profit group based in Maryland says you can't always believe what's on the label of food products. Some of the listed ingredients are fake. And the motive may be financial.
"I think there's a general trend that higher priced ingredients, whether it's spices, whether it's oils, whether it's juices, to be replaced with much cheaper ingredients," says Markus Lipp, senior director for Food Standards for the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention.
USP first released its Food Fraud Database in April 2012. The organization had examined more than 1,300 published studies and media reports at that time. The update adds nearly 800 new records showing a 60 percent increase in food fraud.
USP says olive oil, for example, is often diluted with cheaper oils and tea is diluted with fillers. Dr. Lipp says if the price of a bottle of olive oil is unusually cheap, you should be suspicious.
"The consumer has the right to get the value for what it's purported to be," he said. "And the consumer has also the right to have the safety that comes intrinsically in the belief that what's on the label is what's in the bottle."
He says it shows a clear need for independent, third party review. But he doesn't want to be too alarming.
"In general here in the United States, we do enjoy a very safe food supply," said Dr. Lipp.