Fake Food Ingredients Cause For Public Health Concerns

If you’re a health-conscious consumer, here’s one more thing to worry about: illegal food modification is becoming an increasing problem. Fake ingredients are making their way into widely purchased products — such as honey and olive oil — and have the potential to cause health risks for consumers.

Cases are rising in which good ingredients are swapped with fake ingredients in many food products, The Inquisitr reported. Now, not only quality control is at stake, but public health.

“There’s absolutely a public health risk,” said John Spink, associate director for the Anti-Counterfeit and Product Protection Program (A-CAPPP) at Michigan State University. “And the key is the people that are unauthorized to handle this product, they are probably not following good manufacturing practices and so there could be contaminates in it.”

Tampered-with products include watered-down milk and honey with corn syrup or juices added to dilute it. Olive oil can be mixed with other less expensive oils. Some more dangerous tampering involves fish. The number one faked fish is escolar, an oily fish that causes stomach problems. It has been known to be put on the market in place of tuna or albacore.

The Grocery Manufacturers of America told ABC News in a statement that “ensuring the safety and integrity of our products – and maintaining the confidence of consumers – is the single most important goal of our industry,” and that their members have “robust quality management programs and procedures in place, including analytical testing, to help ensure that only the safest and highest quality products are being offered to consumers.”

So what can you do about it? Spink suggests buying food products from “suppliers, retailers, brands, that have a vested interest in keeping us as repeat customers.” Also, experts warn, if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Sally Greenberg, Executive Director for the National Consumers League, gives tips for buying genuine olive oil that has not been tampered with.

“In a bottle of olive oil if there’s a dark bottle, does it have the date that it was harvested?” she said. While other products, such as honey or lemon juice, are more difficult to discern, if the price is “too good to be true” it probably is.

“$5.50, that’s pretty cheap for extra virgin olive oil,” Greenberg said. “And something that should raise some eyebrows for consumers.”

What do you think about the problems with food ingredient tampering?