Food sham(e): New book says fraud is out of control

Dive Brief:

  • In the new book, Real Food Fake Food, author Larry Olmsted writes almost everything we eat is fake.
  • The book focuses on New York, but also points out the nationwide problem of food fraud. The specialty foods sector is full of scams — even basic staples such as rice and coffee can be phony.
  • Regional product names, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, which comes from Parma, Italy, and logos can help consumers decide which products are genuine.

Dive Insight:

Food fraud amounts to $49 billion lost across the world annually, and 10% of food purchased is likely adulterated, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

In a preventive measure, the association and Battelle have created an online platform called EMAlert. It compiles live data on economically motivated adulteration vulnerability, specifically in manufacturing.

Food companies are also taking proactive measures. For instance, Bellucci uses an app to keep track of the milling and bottling processes carried out by its growers in Italy, where any bottle of the company’s extra virgin olive oil can be traced back to the point of origin.

In his book, Olmsted notes the bulk of olive oil imports are faked and labels such as extra virgin and virgin mean nothing more than an opportunity to mark up the price of the product.

“Our trace-to-source technology allows us to fulfill consumer demand for authentic, fresh, healthy, and honest EVOO at a time when integrity is what matters,”  Bellucci CEO Gerard Jara said in a statement.

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Top image credit: Flickr user USDAgov