The food industry scams its customers on a daily basis. The quicker you realize this, the faster you’ll start to learn how to identify fake foods and be able to opt for healthier options.
Author of the book Real Food/Fake Food, Larry Olmsted is a food journalist who researched the food industry’s tricks. In his book, he reveals the tactics behind food labeling, marketing and fooling the unquestioning customer. In Olmsted’s opinion, food producers are fooling us with fake foods more often than they realize.
“The world is full of delicious, lovingly crafted foods that embody the terrain, weather, and culture of their origins. Unfortunately, it’s also full of brazen impostors.” ~ Kirk Kardashian, author of Milk Money: Cash, Cows, and the Death of the American Dairy Farm
The Extent of Fake Foods and How to Evade Them
Food deception spans many segments of the food industry. Common fake foods include high-end foods like olive oil, wine, seafood, and Kobe beef, as well as everyday staples such as coffee, honey, juice and cheese. Counterfeit foods are so common, you really have to learn how to identify the authenticity of what you’re buying…and eating.
Below is a list of certifications that Olmsted suggests if you want to evade fake foods:
1. Olive Oil – Look for EVA, UNAPROL or COOC certifications
One of the most common fake foods is olive oil. Producers often dilute olive oil to boost profits. For example, some producers alter the oil they label as “extra virgin” with much cheaper hazelnut, peanut, soy, or sunflower seed oil.
Moreover, mislabeling the country of origin is also commonplace. As well, according to Olmsted, olive oil labeled “pure” can mean the oil is the lowest grade possible.
Hence, the best way to identify high-quality real olive oils is to look for certification labels reading California Olive Oil Council (COOC). In addition, the international certifications Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA) and UNAPROL are also reliable.
2. Seafood – Look for MSC or BAP certifications
Everyone has been so focused on questionable practices in cattle factory farming, but seafood has just as many chemicals and antibiotics. In fact, counterfeit seafood is so rife that, in 2014, the U.S. government started a task force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Seafood Fraud.
“Ninety-one percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported and current FDA law mandates that just two percent of that be inspected every year.” (source)
Consequently, you may want to buy products that are certified for authenticity. Olmsted suggestions the two following labels. First, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) runs an ecolabel and fishery certification program that identifies wild fish caught using sustainable practices. Then, for farmed fish, you can look for Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) label. BAP is a comprehensive third-party aquaculture certification program. Finally, another highly-regarded label is Alaska Seafood (ASMI).
3. Imported Delicacies – Look for the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label
We’re often willing to pay premium prices for imported foods, such as cheeses and wines. Yet, because of the FDA’s lax labeling standards, it is up to you to learn how to identify real import delicacies versus fake foods. According to Olmsted, you should buy only products named after their geographical location. Here are some examples:
Parmigiano-Reggiano, however, derives its name from Parma, the region in Italy that’s produced this cheese for over 400 years. If you buy it with that label, it’s real.
Same with Roquefort cheese and Champagne from France, and San Marzano tomato sauce, Bologna meat and Chianti from Italy, and Scotch whisky from Scotland. (source)
If you are unsure if an imported product is authentic, look for the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label. Olmsted considers this the highest guarantee of authenticity.
4. Grass-fed and organic foods – Buy local
One of the best strategies for evading fake foods is to buy local. Overall, it’s important to realize that the more steps your food goes through before it reaches your plate, the greater your chances of contamination and fraud.
Thus, if you are able to get your food directly from a local farmer or at a farmer’s market, you knock out numerous opportunities for producers to alter the quality of the food. From local honey, to grass-fed beef, to organic chicken, local farmers are a great source of high-quality products.
Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, by Tom Mueller
This article (Evade Fake Foods by Looking for These Food Certifications) is copyrighted by Awareness Junkie, 2017. You may not copy, reproduce, publish or distribute any content therein without written permission. You may contact us here.