What are the most adulterated foods in the world? Experts warn that 10% of food is counterfeit

Intentional or unintentional food adulteration is more and more widespread in the world. We are also talking about meat, dairy and fruit because, unfortunately, the global food market is not immune to fraud.

Counterfeit food. PHOTO azom.com

Food safety authorities are constantly working to detect and combat counterfeit food, but consumers must also remain vigilant.

According to the “Food Fraud Database” (database certified by the UN, through FAO), the most falsified foods in the world are olive oil, honey, cheese or coffee.

Experts estimate that about 10% of food products in developed countries are counterfeit. Some foods are blacklisted all the time.

For example, water can be added to milk to increase volume, and in the case of fruit, counterfeiters add chemicals for faster ripening. Other cases include mixing clay, pebbles, stones, sand and marble chips into cereals, pulses and other crops to increase the weight of products.

“Why are these practices resorted to? Quality products have a high price because the raw materials from which they are obtained are produced in limited quantities. Then it takes time for maturation/fermentation (cheeses, champagne, ham), which increases the price even more. It's no wonder that nowadays so-called extra virgin olive oil can contain sunflower or rapeseed oil, and Parmesan cheese is “aged” for a few weeks instead of 2-3 years“, says the well-known nutritionist Mihaela Bilic, on her Facebook page.

The most common adulterated foods

Extra virgin olive oil – prized for its flavor and health benefits, it is often diluted with cheaper vegetable oils and is among the most adulterated foods in the world.

Natural honey it can be adulterated with sugar syrups or artificial sweeteners, affecting the quality and nutritional value.

Cheese. To reduce costs, some unscrupulous manufacturers add vegetable oils, starch and other cheaper ingredients to the cheese.

Ground coffee. Coffee can be “bloated” with chicory, barley or other additions to increase volume and profit for producers.

fish. The label of the purchased fish can be misleading, making you think that you are buying a more valuable species than the one on the package.

The saffron. Because it is the most expensive spice in the world, saffron is often adulterated with visually similar substances such as marigold popcorn.

The wine. To change the flavor, color or alcohol content, some producers add water, sugar or other substances.

Parmesan. Many companies falsely claim to sell grated parmesan, but this has often been proven false, as happened in 2016 in the US when certain varieties were found to contain cellulose, an additive that prevents the cheese from clumping laugh.

Alcoholic beverages. There are many alcoholic drinks with fake labels or drinks diluted with spirits that can be a health hazard.

How do we know that a food is adulterated?

The first sign of suspicion is the labels that do not specify the origin of the ingredients and the place of production. Then the use of general terms behind which poor quality ingredients can be hidden is a new sign of distrust. If we buy cold-pressed olive oil, we need to know where the olives come from and who produced them. Sunflower or rapeseed oil is also vegetable oil, but the health benefits are different and the price is incomparably lower.

Food marketing is built on the illusion of quality and health. But nobody can take the money out of our pockets by force. Make the effort to read labels carefully and spend on products that truly deliver on their promise of reliability, transparency, and quality. Better less and more expensive, in this way we protect our health and support truly responsible producers”, says Mihaela Bilic.