Food Fraud

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Chemists create them in labs and in most cases, the flavor is richer and more addictive than the real thing. During a recent 60 Minutes segment, several proud “flavor” chemists discussed a daring approach to pleasing the palate—use carefully selected chemicals to mimic everything from mangoes and oranges to hybrids like hazelnut-chocolate and blueberry-pomegranate.

Although synthetic flavor is nothing new, many are unaware of its existence thanks to creatively distracting labels on the front, and a hard-to-see ingredients list on the back, and an easy-to-fool palate. These fake flavors are designed to stimulate dopamine, but only for a few seconds because if the flavors don’t linger, people eat more and buy more product.

So, is faux flavoring blatant food fraud? Technically, no, but it should raise more than just an eyebrow. For the same reasons manufacturers enlist flavor chemists, using impostor ingredients in otherwise healthy foods is on the rise. Unscrupulous food manufacturers also practice food fraud simply to cut corners and save money. Unlike the chemicals used by food flavor chemists (they claim the chemicals are safe), the fake ingredients used in many other laced foods can be hazardous to your health—especially if you have allergies.

Some of the most common fraudulent foods include apple juice, coffee, honey, milk, olive oil, orange juice, and saffron.

Apple Juice

If it doesn’t say 100% Juice and “Ingredients: Apples”, it’s probably not pure apple juice. Ingredients like fructose, high fructose corn syrup, malic acid, and raisin sweetener have no business in a bottle of apple juice. And although not harmful, fig juice, grape juice, pear juice, and pineapple juice don’t belong either, unless the bottle specifically says it’s a blend.


Coffee purists won’t like this and neither should novices. Everything from figs to twigs have been found in some coffee. Other common dilutants include barley, caramel, cereal, chicory, corn, malt, and parchment.


According to a recent Prevention Magazine article, faux honey may contain
corn syrup, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, beet sugar, sugar syrup, and even heavy metals and illegal Chinese antibiotics from abroad and heavy metals.


Unscrupulous milk manufactures have cut milk with reconstituted milk powder, rennet, and urea. A blend appropriately called “fake milk” is floating around out there as well and it’s made of a stomach turning mix of oil, urea, detergent, caustic soda, sugar, salt, and skim milk powder.

Olive Oil

The big print may read “Olive Oil” but the small print may read “blend,” if anything at all. Some manufacturers blend olive oil with corn oil, hazelnut oil, palm oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, or walnut oil, and they don’t bother listing them. Not only does this affect taste and the way olive oil interacts in cooking and in foods, cutting olive oil with inferior oils zaps the benefits that come with consuming pure olive oil. eating olive oil can lead to lower cholesterol levels, healthier skin, and more.

Orange Juice

Bad OJ may be mixed with unlisted beet sugar, fungicide, grapefruit juice, high fructose corn syrup, lemon juice, and mandarin juice. In the case of fungicide, you may not be able to detect it.


The world’s most expensive spice is darn difficult to find. If you do happen to find a batch, be cautious. Dishonest manufacturers will add everything from glycerin and tartrazine to sandalwood dust, borax, and barium sulfate to make a buck. Tartrazine is a yellow dye linked to lupus and hyperactivity in children and barium sulfate is a fluid used in oil well drilling.

If you stick with well-known brands, you won’t have to worry about odd or dangerous ingredients lurking in your food. If you’re considering purchasing an obscure brand from a questionable source, think twice. 

Here's to your wellness,


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