Food fraud is still with us

You may not be able to trust the labels found on certain foods, according to a new scientific examination conducted by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention. This nonprofit group (the familiar USP often seen on food and medicinals), which sets standards for the identity, strength, quality, and purity of medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed and consumed worldwide, found an increasing number of fake ingredients in products ranging from olive oil to fruit juice.

In an update to its Food Fraud Database, in addition to the 1,300 studies and media reports from 1980-2010, 800 new entries were added, mainly from reports published in 2011 and 2012. The most likely examples of food fraud were liquids and ground foods such as pomegranate juice, olive oil, lemon juice, tea, spices, milk, honey, coffee, syrup and seafood.

ACSH s Ruth Kava believes that the FDA needs to look more into this situation to make sure that labels are accurate and reflect what is actually in the food. Consumers should not be misled into thinking a product is 100 percent lemon juice for example, when in reality it is only 10 percent. This is out and out fraud.

And on another food-related note, Jeni s Splendid Ice Cream, an Ohio-based company, has come out with an Influenza Sorbet, and the label is not misleading at least technically. The sorbet contains a blend of honey, ginger, orange juice, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and Maker s Mark bourbon to produce a flavor resembling a whiskey sour with a spicy kick. Though the product is cute, there s no science behind it, says Doris Bucher, flu vaccine co-developer, but maybe this is the 21st century s version of chicken soup.

But ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom thinks it s a mistake to sell this product short. He says, I ve done some exhaustive research on this, and have found that if you use it, you will recover from the flu in a mere seven days. If you don t, it will take a whole week.