FDA pressured to combat rising 'food fraud'

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    Mar 30, 2010 1:24 PM GMT
    "Food fraud" has been documented in fruit juice, olive oil, spices, vinegar, wine, spirits and maple syrup, and appears to pose a significant problem in the seafood industry. Victims range from the shopper at the local supermarket to multimillion companies, including E&J Gallo and Heinz USA. ...

    The recent development of high-tech tools -- including DNA testing -- has made it easier to detect fraud that might have gone unnoticed a decade ago. DNA can be extracted from cells of fish and meat and from other foods, such as rice and even coffee. Technicians then identify the species by comparing the DNA to a database of samples.

    Another tool, isotope ratio analysis, can determine subtle differences between food -- whether a fish was farmed or wild, for example, or whether caviar came from Finland or a U.S. stream.

    The techniques have become so accessible that two New York City high school students, working with scientists at the Rockefeller University and the American Museum of Natural History last year, discovered after analyzing DNA in 11 of 66 foods -- including the sheep's milk cheese and caviar -- bought randomly at markets in Manhattan were mislabeled. ...

    Authentification should be a standard practice throughout the food industry, Stoeckle said: "If it's simple enough that high school students with some supervision can do it, it moves out of the research application to something you can do regularly."

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/29/AR2010032903824.html?hpid=topnews

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    Mar 30, 2010 3:07 PM GMT
    We're having the same problem up here, Caslon. Recently, there was a scam uncovered where honey was being adulterated with high fructose corn syrup.

    Fish being sold as something other than what the species really is (more money that way) and cuts of meat sold as top quality (but really meant for shoe soles, heheh)
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    Mar 30, 2010 5:08 PM GMT
    On the other hand, government agencies are always looking for excuses to expand their missions and budgets. Gotta take these anecdotes with a grain of salt. (Or whatever it is that comes in the salt shaker.)
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    Mar 30, 2010 5:33 PM GMT
    Finally- although I only eat California grown chicken. icon_biggrin.gif
    There was also an article floating around about how the FDA is also cracking down on companies that say their products are made with real fruit but really only contain high quantities of high fructose corn syrup.
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    Mar 30, 2010 6:19 PM GMT
    Fish is a big culprit in the scam of not getting what you're paying for. Coffee beans are another often times.

    Finally the Cdn govt has updated it's labelling requirements that the country of origin has to be shown. Before a food product such as "frozen halibut" could be labelled "product of Canada" where in fact the halibut was caught and frozen in China or Russia by their fishboats for example.. shipped to Canada frozen in bulk where it was processed and packaged. If the cost of the "processing and packaging work done in Canada" exceeded the cost of the actual fish then they could legally say it was a "product of Canada" Very misleading.. That's gone now thankfully.

    I no longer buy any food items grown or produced in China if I can help it. Why on earth are we buying garlic from China anyways? Enough is grown here in Canada and in the US and China is on the way to putting any N.American garlic industry out of business. It doesn't make sense. I buy locally and then Canadian and/or US fruits and vegetables unless it's something tropical like bananas or whatever

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    Apr 02, 2010 6:03 AM GMT
    meninlove said We're having the same problem up here, Caslon. Recently, there was a scam uncovered where honey was being adulterated with high fructose corn syrup.


    It is truly a sad day when the companies we trust to feed us are caught cutting their products with junk like some streetcorner drug dealer.