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Features The Katchup

Everyday Foods That Are Commonly Faked And Mislabeled

Meet the food playing the food, disguised as another food.

If you’ve ever been skeptical about brands being a bit deceitful in the food they sell you, there’s good reason for it, as there’s a little something called “food fraud,” and it happens in the most unusual of instances.

Dr. Rosalee Hellberg, a food fraud expert, spoke in depth about mislabeled products on The Foodbeast Katchup Podcast, rattling off food after food that you’ve probably had in your kitchen cabinet.

Dr. Hellberg and her team at Chapman University have dedicated their lives to researching fraudulent food, identifying the specific genes within different foods, and ultimately discovering sketchy practices within the industry.

While some companies have been publicly exposed and corrected the course, food fraud is easy to repeat, and has been a problem for hundreds of years.

Here are the foods, and some fraudulent examples that will leave you walking around the grocery store with constant doubt.

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Pepper


“Pepper is really interesting ’cause it has a really long history of fraud,” Dr. Hellberg said. “Even dating back to Roman times, there are instances of… fraudulent pepper being sold.”

While you’d think pepper would get its act together over the last 600 years, fraudulent practices still occur today. From adding dirt, to dried juniper berries, pepper manufacturers still try to get that weight up on the cheap. If you ever feel your lemon-pepper shrimp tastes like dirt, now you know why.
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Honey

Honey is the third most faked food in the world, according to New York Times best selling book, Real Food, Fake Food.

Dr. Hellberg said that with honey, a lot of times, sugars will be mixed in, so you’re not actually getting the 100 percent honey that’s put on the label.

If you’re in the loop with bees being wiped out at a rapid pace, this one may or may not be that surprising to you.
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Wine


“With wine there’s a lot of possibilities for fraud,” Dr. Hellberg said. “Some of the most common are mixing finished wines. You take one type of wine, another type of wine and mix them together.”

This one’s crazy because unless you’re a professional wine taster, how can you even tell they’re being mixed? Dr. Hellberg suggested the best we can do to avoid this, is to get to know the source, find their ethos, and go with wineries with good reputations. You can even ask if they’re actually doing anything to prevent wine fraud. While this form of fraud won’t hurt you, it might hurt your wallet if you’re paying for a premium wine and not actually getting it.

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Chocolate


“With chocolate, one of the main things I found was counterfeit chocolate,” Hellberg said. “People are taking substandard chocolate and putting it under a fake label of a chocolate brand that’s well recognized.”

One widely publicized occurrence of this type of mixing came from the Mast Brothers’ chocolate, which was accused of using melted chocolate from Valrhona chocolates, and selling them for $10 a pop. This type of chocolate fraud is common globally, according to Hellberg.
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Olives


“…In Italy, fraudsters were taking olives, and typically the substandard olives that are discolored, they were soaking them in a copper sulfate solution, which gives them a nice bright green color. Hellberg said. “They’re called, ‘Painted Olives.’ If you’re eating copper, you’re going to have some health problems.”

This happened in 2016, and Italian police seized 85,000 tons of those green olives. Believe it or not, this type of olive fraud is pretty common, so keep a close eye on your olives.
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Olive Oil

Like a few other things on this list, olive oils have been found to be mixed with lower quality olive oils. In 2016, it was reported that 80 percent of the Italian olive oil sold in markets is fraudulent.

“If you see something that’s out of wack, that doesn’t look right on the label, or the price doesn’t match, that’s usually a good indicator that it might be a fraudulent product,” Dr. Hellberg said.

While a lot of Italian olive oils are mislabeled, our own resident food scientist Constantine Spyrou argues that getting Spanish olive oils that are labeled “Italian” isn’t really a downgrade.
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Sushi


One of the most common forms of sushi fraud comes from the ol’ red snapper. It seems that every time researchers dig into the fish, regardless of year, or location, the fish has been faked.

It’s so bad, that you’ve probably never truly tasted real red snapper.

“Most of the time studies have found it’s not red snapper,” Dr. Hellberg said. “We actually just completed a study in my lab… and again, ‘red snapper’ was not red snapper.”

We can even take it one step further, as in 2017, a study showed that almost half the sushi in Los Angeles is mislabeled. From halibut to flounder, there’s a good chance Angelenos are not actually getting the sushi they ordered.

Categories
Culture Opinion Packaged Food

Your Italian Olive Oil Might Actually Be Spanish, But That’s A Good Thing

Here in the United States, Italian olive oil is often viewed as king. It makes sense, given the association between old-school Italian dishes and olive oil that is cemented in our culture. To suggest that somewhere else made more, or even better, olive oil would be ludicrous.

I guess you’ll have to call me crazy, then, because some of the Italian olive oil we’re getting isn’t Italian at all. They’re actually from Spain, the world’s top-ranked olive oil producers in terms of quantity AND quality.

That’s not a drag on Italian or Spanish olive oils, as both offer exquisite and vibrant flavors. Italy just markets so much more olive oil than it actually produces that it has to source from countries like Spain to keep up with demand.

Data from the International Olive Council shows that Italy produces 300,000 tons of olive oil per year on average. During the same time span, though, it retails a whopping 500,000 tons for domestic sales, with another 330,000 marketed for international consumption. A 2017 investigation from Italy’s state-run RAI television uncovered that about half of the “100% Italian” olive oil bottles sold within the country contains product from other countries. Based on those numbers, Italy would need to draw about 580,000 tons of olive oil from outside sources every year.

A significant chunk of that is coming from Spain, as the Customs of Spain reports that it exported over 355,000 tons of its olive oil to Italy last year. As the world’s largest olive oil producer, Spain easily has the capability to produce that much oil. The nation averages 1.3 million tons of olive oil production per year, 900,000 tons of which is distributed around the world. Thus, someone like Italy turning to Spain to get additional resources is highly likely.

Does that mean we should consider this swapping of the olive oils to mean the quality drops? Certainly not, as Spanish olive oil often takes home higher honors than Italian variants in global rankings. The official World’s Best Olive Oils Rankings, a composite ranking based on global competition results, has Spanish brands dominating the top 10 global olive oils since at least 2011, with up to eight of those spots going to Spanish oils yearly.

That’s not advocating that everyone should switch to Spanish olive oil, as flavors differ between countries, climates, and even olive varieties. However, we should give Spanish olive oil the same level of regard and respect as we’ve been giving Italian olive oil, as its production capability and quality prove that it deserves as much.

If you’re looking to figure out exactly where your olive oil comes from, it may be a little hard to figure out. While the EU imposes strict regulations on the chemistry and labeling of extra virgin olive oil, it’s hard to establish a country of origin. Laws currently require companies to state if the oil was sourced from the EU or from outside countries, but not specific nations within the EU. That can cloud things up a little in terms of sourcing, especially when many of these will still say “bottled in Italy.”

Bottlers and packers can choose to specify countries, though, and if the olive oil is coming from a single country, they will likely label a bottle as such. That’s a guarantee that the olive oil is coming from that specific country.

At the end of the day, though, olive oil is delicious no matter where it’s coming from, and given its potential health benefits, we should definitely become more frequent and smarter consumers of this culinary “liquid gold.”

Categories
Features

10 Everyday Food Tips That You Can’t Help But Appreciate

I always get excited when I discover a new life hack. I figure if I collect enough of these tips, I’ll eventually be on my way to becoming a fully-functioning adult. Though that journey may take some time.

The popular subreddit LifeProTips is a plethora of tips and tricks shared by the collective experiences of the Internet. You can find tips that cover relationships, finance, technology, and most importantly — food.

Because we’re always seeking ways to make our dining experience much simpler, we created a list of some of the best food pro tips we came across. Enjoy!


LPT: Let someone know you’re picking up the tab for a meal AFTER they’ve ordered. This allows a considerate friend to order what s/he wants freely and also prevents a colleague/acquaintance from taking advantage of your generosity. from r/LifeProTips

I’ve been on both the treating end and receiving end of a free meal. Keeping mum about buying dinner for someone to dinner is something your wallet will appreciate.

LPT: If a server or cashier at a restaurant gives you extra of something for no charge, and you are later asked by a manager if that employee was doing their job well, don’t mention that they gave you extra food. It could potentially get them in trouble. from r/LifeProTips

Sometimes, all a kind gesture really needs is a simple thank you.

LPT: If you want to “vacuum seal” food, put it in a ziplock bag and submerge it in a bowl of water with the bag open above the water. The water will push the air out of the bag, and you can close it without any left inside. from r/LifeProTips

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the “seal it almost all the way and squeeze out the rest of the air” method.

LPT: when making nachos, put a tortilla underneath your chips to turn leftover toppings into a taco. from r/LifeProTips

I’ll admit, sometimes I’ll lick the plate clean when eating nachos. Having a tortilla underneath to catch the toppings would probably make me look more composed.

LPT: Store potatoes and onions well apart from each other. They release moisture and gases that can make the other get bad faster. from r/LifeProTips

So that’s why my onions keep going bad.

 

LPT: Use olive oil instead of extra-virgin olive oil when cooking with heat. It has a higher smoke point and is cheaper. Use your nice oil for finishing dishes, not preparing them. from r/LifeProTips

Very guilty of this sin, especially when I’m too lazy to run to the grocery store for frying oil.

LPT: Most juices/drinks that advertise 50% less sugar are simply watered down. You can save money by watering down the normal product. from r/LifeProTips

Doctor says I should be drinking more water anyways.

LPT: When baking cookies, take them out when just the sides look almost done, not the middle. They’ll finish baking on the pan and you’ll have soft, delicious cookies. from r/LifeProTips

Chocolate chip cookies with a crispy exterior and gooey insides are one of life’s greatest pleasures.

 

LPT: Put a peeled banana in the freezer for a snack that almost has the same texture and taste of ice cream but without the guilt or calories. from r/LifeProTips

That does solve my lactose intolerance issue too…

LPT: Learn to look at food products labeling carefully. “Made with 100%…” is very different to “made from 100%…” from r/LifeProTips

Always read the fine print when it comes to food.

Categories
News

Polygamous Leader Uses Olive Oil To Escape His GPS Ankle Bracelet

According to Fox 13, the leader of a polygamous group, Lyle Jeffs, was placed on house arrest after a delay in a fraud trail in which he was allegedly responsible for a multi-million dollar food stamp scheme.

Authorities discovered that he escaped his GPS-monitored ankle bracelet by strategically using olive oil to slip out of it.

“He used a substance which may have been olive oil to lubricate the GPS tracking band and slip it off his ankle” -Special Agent Eric Barnhart told Fox 13

olives

Olive oil has long been considered a sacred substance in the Mormon faith and is often used as an anointing oil for many ceremonies and practices, and it became a crucial part in the execution of his escape.

A crafty prison break effort by Jeffs, as he didn’t even trigger the alarm to go off on the bracelet, and there was quite a window of time before it was discovered that he was missing.

Jeffs’ escape sounds like something out of a cartoon or an afternoon crime drama.

Categories
Health

New Study Finds Fountain of Youth: Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diets have been consistently linked to health benefits, but a new study reveals how eating this way keeps your genes young.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston dropped some serious knowledge in one of the largest studies about the Mediterranean diet. Published by the British Medical Journal, the study provides an analysis of 4,676 women’s diets and blood test results. Researchers determined that the fatty fish-friendly diet prevents your chromosomes from deteriorating.

Courtesy of AMMG

Middle-school biology breakdown: Chromosomes constantly replicate throughout our lives. They have little hats and boots called telomeres. The older we get, the shorter the telomeres can become. Short telomeres offer less protection to your chromosomes, which results in cellular aging and its related diseases. According to the study, those who follow a Mediterranean diet have longer telomeres, thus longer lives.

You don’t have to be old to have cells that can register for AARP; smoking, stress and inflammation can also shorten telomeres. The researchers comprehensively accounted for these and other variables before reaching their conclusion.

If you’ve been doubting the Mediterranean diet, it’s not too late to grab some olive oil.

Categories
Products

3-in-1 Stackable Condiment Holder Saves Space on the Dinner Table

Stackable Seasonings

Condiment containers aren’t usually the most efficient thing on your table, and they tend to take up unnecessary room. However, designer Shahar Peleg created an answer to the clutter with ‘Stackable Seasonings’.

This unique table set basically takes the basic condiments — olive oil, salt and pepper — and stores them in a chic, stackable manner. The ceramic holders are not only convenient, but they’re also a stylish way to amp up dinner table decor. Plus, the design makes it nearly impossible to knock over your salt and pepper shakers.

Stackable Seasonings

Stackable Seasonings

H/T + Picthx Design Taxi

Categories
Products

Roll-On Olive Oil Prevents Soggy Bread

roll-on-olive-oil

This clever invention takes a cue from the roll-on glitter bottles of the 90’s and swaps the sparkles for olive oil. Created by design group Oaza, the Oil-On dispenser is made from a glass container topped with a hollow cork stopper that’s sealed with a rolling wooden ball. The ball soaks up the oil, then dispenses it evenly as you roll it across your bread.

Oil-On focuses on subtly — playing off the idea that we oh-too often overpower bread’s flavor and texture by dunking it in olive oil. The ballpoint pen-like dispenser enables us to get a thin layer of oil, as opposed to a piece of bread soaked in the stuff. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to get our hands on this item, as the firm is still considering plans to move the unique dispenser into production.

‘Til then, we foresee Nutella roll-on bottles ahead. Goodness knows we need something to deter us from slathering ungodly amounts on our morning toast.

H/T + Picthx Vizkultura

Categories
Fast Food

The Simple Pleasures of the New Grilled Chimichurri Salmon Dishes from Rubio’s

rubioschimichurri

Working at a food blog, you come to understand what will and won’t do well on your site. You actively seek out the ostentatious, the bizarre, the HOLY SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS, BATMAN. Little by little, your writing becomes less about celebrating food and more about gawking at it (which is, of course, its own brand of fun). Every once in a while though, you find something that – while not bacon wrapped, nutella-stuffed or Sriracha-drizzled – nevertheless deserves to be shared, on no merit other than sounding absolutely incredible.

Say it with me now. Grilled. Salmon. Chimichurri. Is your mouth watering yet?

Rubio’s, the San Diego-based chain who brought $1 Fish Taco Tuesdays into the mainstream, is now offering new Sustainable Grilled Chimichurri Salmon burritos, tacos and salads for a limited time. As the press release details:

“. . . each item features sustainable, grilled Atlantic salmon topped with Rubio’s chimichurri sauce, a savory blend of chopped basil, parsley, chives, garlic and olive oil. The mouthwatering burrito and taco include fire-roasted corn and Fresno chiles. The burrito comes complete with black beans and salsa fresca, while the taco is topped with crunchy spring mix, butter lettuce and crema. Providing an even lighter option is the salad, made with fresh spring mix and butter lettuce tossed in a chimichurri balsamic vinaigrette dressing and topped with fresh sliced avocados, Fresno chiles, crema and fire-roasted corn.”

This summer, do yourself a favor, at least once. Put down the Waffle Taco and pick up something that sounds good and is kind of good for you. If nothing else, it’ll leave you feeling good about yourself, so you’re free to sneak in that extra Frosty cone for dessert.