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.



“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.


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.


“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.



“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.


“…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.

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.


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.

Animals News Now Trending

Parasitic ‘Salmon Lice’ Are Taking Out Huge Swaths Of Global Salmon Supply

A parasite known as the “salmon lice” is causing major problems for the industry. It can take approximately a twelfth of the salmon yield in a single year, leading to a massive billion-dollar loss that’s driving up prices and has fish farmers and scientists concerned.

salmon lice

Photo: Fawcett5 on Wikimedia Commons.

Salmon lice have been around for as long as the fish themselves, according to Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game. However, reports of them being problematic to the industry have only begun to surface over the past year. These parasites can latch onto juvenile salmon at an early age. As they grow, they gain the ability to move in the salmon’s body and can feed on its mucus, blood, and skin, potentially killing the fish as a result.

salmon lice

Salmon lice in various stages of life. Photo: Thomas Bjorkan, Wikimedia Commons

The reason these lice have become a problem now is that wild juvenile fish can swim close by adult salmon farms. The farming pens are a perfect breeding ground for lice, which can then leave the pens and attach to nearby fish. Wild salmon close to fish farms are 73 times more likely to contract this parasite, and farms can elevate the risk of parasitism for fish up to 40 miles away.

In the past, aquaculture and wild fish have been able to deal with the lice on their own. Farms, however, began reporting the problem as early as 1994, according to the Associated Press. A pesticide was used to control their growth, but resistance to the lice killer of choice developed amongst the parasites in 2009. As these pesticide-resistant lice have spread worldwide over the years, looking into treatments for them have become paramount.

Salmon lice attached to a fish. Photo: 7Barrym0re on Wikimedia Commons.

While wild fish are definitely more at risk, salmon farms themselves are hurting too. The lice can easily fester in the juvenile salmon pens of these farms, leading to massive losses that can amount to approximately $1 billion, according to Fish Farmer Magazine. Considering that the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has estimated the salmon industry to be worth approximately $12 billion, which is a significant chunk of business.

For those of you worried about eating these lice, fish who have them are completely edible. It’s when they’re killed off before having a chance to grow into adults that makes it an issue.

Currently, treatments like warm water baths, underwater lasers, and breeding for genetic resistance are being explored by experts. The major goal is to ensure that farmers have tools that can effectively deal with these lice. Considering ten percent of the world’s salmon supply were lost to this parasite last year, we need these treatments sooner rather than later.

Animals News Now Trending

Invasive Atlantic Salmon Escape West Coast Fish Farm, Now Roaming The Pacific

invasive atlantic salmon escape

Photo: Eric Kilby on Flickr.

Thousands of invasive Atlantic salmon are on the loose in the Pacific Ocean, and the results could be catastrophic. However, you can help alleviate the invasive Atlantic salmon escape and feed yourself at the same time.

According to the Seattle Times, up to 305,000 Atlantic salmon broke loose from a local Washington farm last weekend. The salmon are currently heading to the Pacific Ocean, and many are likely already out there flourishing.

The salmon made their escape following a net breakage at a fish farm belonging to Cooke Aquaculture. Interestingly, the company blames the eclipse for high tides that gave the fish ample opportunity to break loose. Initially, estimates of Atlantic salmon loss stood at 4,000 to 5,000 fish. However, the company now fears that hundreds of thousands of fish could have escaped.

Because Atlantic salmon are not native to the Pacific, environmental damage could possibly occur. Environmentalists are particularly concerned about the Atlantic fish mating with Pacific Chinook salmon and stealing their food. Estimates put the environmental fallout between moderate and very serious, according to the Guardian.

To help alleviate the problem, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking the public to help catch the Atlantic salmon. If you have a fishing license, you can catch as many Atlantic salmon as you please.

Hopefully, this will help prevent too many invasive fish from harming the Pacific Ocean’s natural environment.

Culture Video

Irish People Try Sushi For The First Time [WATCH]

The first time we tried sushi, many many years ago, we were pretty nervous about the idea of eating raw fish. Since that first experience, we’ve fallen in love with the iconic Japanese dish.

Over at Facts, the production company dug around and found six people who have yet to experience the bliss that comes from raw fish and vinegared rice.

Popular sushi items include Rainbow Rolls and Ebi Tempura Rolls with Masago. After the first two rolls, however, things take a pretty weird turn in the rolls that come out in front of them. The group tries a Mango California Roll, Charred Salmon and Strawberry Roll, and what they call a Jo Pineapple Roll.

Hang on a second… what? Maybe these are just popular over in Ireland.

If you want to see this group of lads and lasses eat strange sushi-fruit hybrids while struggling to get a grip on their chopsticks, check out the video above.

Man, sushi sounds pretty good for lunch right now. Especially since it’s a million degrees outside.

News Restaurants

Meatball Lovers Rejoice, IKEA Might Open A Stand-Alone Restaurant

Going to the cafeteria section of IKEA is always the highlight of our furniture excursions. Chowing down on some meatballs slathered in gravy and partaking in some smoked salmon was always a pleasant way to start or end an exhausting day of furniture shopping.

It looks like IKEA has heard our satisfied sighs after such meals, because they’re seriously thinking about opening a stand-alone restaurant devoted solely to the food.

Fast Company reports that the company is taking a look at all the things that work within their food business and actively communicating with a salmon farm in Norway to see if a restaurant concept could work for them.

Because of IKEA’s booming furniture sales numbers, how much they made in the food sector remained unnoticed until they compared their earnings to other restaurants. In 2013, IKEA reported $1.5 billion in annual food sales.

Wonder if a stand-alone restaurant serving IKEA food would affect their furniture sales?

We’ve been guilty on more than one occasion of gorging on the company’s cafeteria food and then just walking it off in the store. Furniture may or may not have been purchased through these trips.

Photo: IKEA

Cravings Culture Recipes Video

How To Make A Cheetos-Crusted Sushi Burrito At Home

Whether it’s fresh cucumbers, or a crispy tempura crust, we find the greatest pleasure in the crunch of biting into a fresh sushi roll. So what gets more crunches than Cheetos?

Josh Elkin, the man behind In-N-Out egg rolls, decided to get cheesy with some sushi burritos using the popular cheese-flavored corn puffs.

Here’s what you’ll need:


Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Lay out a sushi mat and place a piece of nori (seaweed) on top. Place some vinegared rice along one side of the nori and carefully flatten it so it’s even. Then, flip it over and place your ingredients as a thin strip along the edge of the nori.

Carefully roll the sushi mat.

Next, take some Cheetos and throw them into a blender. Spread the “dust” out evenly on a surface and roll your sushi burrito so that it’s generously coated in the divine orange crumbs.

You can now either snap a couple quick glamour shots of this wondrous creation with your phone and spend the next 15 minutes thinking up a punny caption, or simply tear into this orange-coated beauty.

#foodbeast Art Cravings Fast Food News What's New

Sushi Donuts Might Be The Most Beautiful New Food Trend

California Sushi Donuts swung by the Foodbeast office last week to give us a live demonstration of their beautiful, one-of-a-kind concept: Sushi Donuts. A fusion of the popular Japanese dish and the iconic deep-fried breakfast ring, sushi donuts combine the functional aesthetics of donuts with the elevated reputation and delicate presentation of sushi.


Co-owners Anthony and Faez started their business earlier this year, making pop-up appearances at food festivals and events with the goal of ultimately opening a brick-and-mortar spot.

While the colorful dish looks pretty sweet, you better prepare your palates for something a little more on the savory side.


Sushi donuts essentially feature rice dyed with food coloring, which is then mixed with crab meat and placed in a donut mold. The ‘donut’ is then topped with popular sushi ingredients like tuna, salmon, shrimp, or cucumber and drizzled with wasabi or Sriracha aioli. A nearly-finished sushi donut is completed after its presented on a bed of nori.


Patrons can customize their orders based on color, protein, and other toppings.

If you’re based in Southern California, you can hit California Sushi Donuts up for catering or any other inquires. Just make sure to keep those camera batteries charged. You’re gonna want to grab a couple quick glamor shots before tearing into these bad boys.



Gordon Ramsay’s Secret To Selecting The Freshest Fish [WATCH]

Superstar chef Gordon Ramsay walks a fine line from being a hard-ass, know-it-all culinary bully, to possibly being the nicest man in the food industry.

Regardless of what you think of him, Ramsay knows his stuff and takes the time to inform his audience about how to properly shop, cook and eat like a professional.

This time Ramsay shares his guide to buying fish and it’s actually very useful. Check out his tips below.

The most interesting part of the video is the dialogue from connoisseur fish expert Roger Kent-Barton, a vendor inside London’s Billingsgate Market for more than 50 years, who Ramsay credits for, “always getting the freshest and the best,” when it comes to fish.

“I love fish,” Barton exclaimed with passion. “I could feed you a different fish 365 days a year.”

Barton, who’s accent is reminiscent of “Brick Top” in Snatchexplained how to determine if a fish is fresh, simply by the smell.

“Old fish smells different,” he said. “the longer it’s around the more fishy it will smell,” Barton said. “When it’s lovely and fresh, it doesn’t smell.”

Among other things, Barton suggests that when considering a fish to purchase, be sure to “get your nose right in it and smell it,” and not to be shy when it comes to truly knowing your fish.

Both Ramsay and Barton seem to be impressed with salmon, and enjoy a whole salmon steamed or stuffed, salmon fillets grilled or fried, or smoked salmon which Ramsay says he, “loves with his scrambled eggs.”

When it comes to buying fish — or anything thing — you want to make sure you’re getting the best quality for the best price. If that means getting a little more familiar with your fish before you buy, so be it.

Thanks, Ramsay. This is definitely useful advice.