As we scan grocery store shelves for our favorite items, we may not realize that labels on certain products could be misleading.
Shaun Kennedy, director of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense at the University of Minnesota, recently appeared on CNN’s The Situation Room to comment on what’s been termed “economically motivated adulteration” (EMA), or simply, food fraud.
“About ten percent of the food you buy on the shelf is probably adulterated,” said Kennedy, who added that researchers believe food fraud costs the U.S. between $10-15 billion a year.
Adulteration refers to food being mislabeled, diluted or misrepresented. In fact, researchers found that products like olive oil were being diluted with lower grade oil, and fish that appeared to be expensive were actually cheap cuts.
“In the end, just as with any problem with food, if there’s a problem, it’s the consumer who pays either a higher price or through illness,” said Kennedy.
As more claims become apparent, enforcement of food sources and labeling standards will need to increase.
Kennedy advises people to be informed shoppers. Beware of buzzwords like “natural” or “local” which are commonly found on food products but that may be deceptive in terms of what’s actually in the food.