After my first article on food industry lies I had to realize that the deeper you dig in the dubious business of food industries, the more you find yourself in a pile of shit!
1. Who needs bees to make honey?
One would expect that it’s a pretty natural and straightforward product – there are flowers, busy bees and a beekeeper involved in this process. What an annoyingly long task – fortunately the major players in the industry found a way to make “honey” without flowers, bees and beekeepers.
China is the largest honey producer in the world & pretty much all the major players in the industry knowingly buy their honey from shady sources in China. Some of the samples contain labels from other countries when in fact they originated in China but were re-routed to avoid tariffs of up to 500 percent.
“Now there is lot of deception going on to avoid having to pay those tariffs, and the investigators are way behind in following them” Vaughn Bryant, a palynologist and an anthropology professor at Texas A&M University says. “The beekeepers of the U.S. have been pleading with the FDA to enact stricter guidelines about accurate labeling for honey, but that is a long, slow process.”
The tariffs were attached to the import of Chinese honey about five years ago because exporters there were “dumping” it in the U.S. – selling it at a much lower price than its cost, which is about one-half what it costs U.S. honey producers. The practice has almost ruined the market for domestic honey.
Fake chinese honey often has all of the pollen filtered out of it to disguise its origin, and it’s then cut like cocaine with cheap corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. The FDA says that a substance can’t legally be called “honey” if it contains no pollen, and yet most of the stuff tested from the main retailers contained not a trace of it.
2. A black salty thing called soy sauce
Soy is not a rare commodity – but real soy sauce takes a pretty long time to make, so many manufacturers have started producing an fake black salty water that takes only three days to make and has a longer shelf life. Ingredients are something called “hydrolyzed vegetable proteins,” as well as caramel coloring, salt, and food industries’ favorite and oh so cheap additive: corn syrup. The International Hydrolyzed Protein Council, whose members make and supply the basic ingredient for major U.S. producers of “soy sauce” denied proposals to label their soy sauce as fake: “These products have been manufactured here and around the world for decades and sold as soy sauce, and there have been no complaints from consumers,”
Most of the soy sauce that you get in packets with your sushi is actually this fake stuff. Too bad, but at least it comes with wasabi, too, right? If by “wasabi” you mean “horseradish mixed with mustard.” let’s face it, you probably never tried real wasabi and weren’t even served by a real Japanese cook ever.
3. Olive Oil
“Once someone tries a real extra virgin olive oil
– an adult or a child, anybody with taste buds –
they’ll never go back to the fake kind.
It’s distinctive, complex, the freshest thing you’ve ever eaten.”
~ Tom Mueller, author of Extra Virginity
Olive oil is considered one of the healthiest oils for its link to lower cholesterol levels and reduced risk of heart disease. Therefore olive oil gained vast popularity in recent years, and when a study reveiled that people from Sardinia have one of the highest life expectancy in the world, the magic olive oil was almost literally soaked up by followers of the mediterranean diet.
Here lies the problem: consumers can’t get enough of it. There isn’t enough of the good stuff, yet suppliers don’t want to miss a potential profit. Although standards exist for what “extra virgin” is supposed to mean, there are no teeth behind those standards, so producers can fill other oil into the bottle, slap on the coveted label, and sell fake olive oil quite easily to unsuspecting consumers. Fake olive oil has become the biggest source of agricultural fraud problems in the EU. While less than 10% of world olive oil production meets the criteria for labeling as extra-virgin, it has been estimated that up to 50% of retail oil is labeled “extra-virgin”. Mixed with soy- and cannola oil, dyed with chlorophyll and blendet with beta carrotene for a better taste – everything is allowed. This applies also to pesto – the green famous pasta sauce is oftentimes made from sunflower oil instead of olive oil.
Many well-known brands of olive oil sold in stores today are not actually olive oil, but a blend of lower-quality vegetable oils that may include less than 20 percent actual olive oil. Olive oil is classified by how it was produced, by its chemistry, and by its flavor.
US regulations on “country of origin” state that if a non-origin nation is shown on the label, then the real origin must be shown on the same side of the label and in comparable size letters so as not to mislead the consumer. Yet most major US brands continue to put “imported from Italy” on the front label in large letters and other origins on the back in very small print. These products are a mixture of olive oil from more than one nation and it is not clear what percentage of the olive oil is really of Italian origin. This practice makes it difficult for high quality, lower cost producers outside of Italy to enter the US market, and for genuine Italian producers to compete.
So how to detect real extra virgin olive oil?
- A darker bottle. extra virgin olive oil is sensitive to both light and heat and can go rancid if not bottled correctly.
- Look for a harvest date. Olive oil should be consumed within two years of harvest. Don’t trust “bottled” or “best by” dates. It is not unusual for olive oils to be stored for years before they’re bottled, even though they deteriorate over time.
- Expect to pay more. Making EVOO is an expensive process; the cheapest bottle on the shelf is unlikely to be the real thing.
- Do your own sensory test on the olive oil (some smaller organic stores allow that). It should smell vibrant and wonderful. Next, pour some in a little glass, and take a taste. Roll it around on your tongue. You should be able to taste the olives, there might be some bitterness or pepperiness at the back of your throat. What you shouldn’t taste is anything greasy, moldy, rancid or reminiscent of cardboard. It also shouldn’t be a neutral tasting oil. Real extra virgin olive oil has layers upon layers of flavor.
Read on about these common olive oil myth
The so-called “pepper” a vendor made from mud and flour was reported to Global Times by a shopper about a year ago who purchased the dirty treat from a market in his home town of Dongguan, Guangdong Province. So here was not a whole industry involved but it shows how easily people can be deceived when it comes to real vs. fake food!
Upon further investigation, it was determined that the market’s black pepper was made from local mud and their white pepper was mainly composed of flour. When the vendor was confronted by the discoverer and several reporters, the vendor justified his actions by stating that the fake pepper “would not kill people.”
The fake pepper sold at the Dongguan market for 60 yuan ($9.2) per kilogram only cost the vendor a mere 4 yuan ($0.6) per kg. One might say his costs were… dirt cheap.