Fake Food and Food Fraud Make Real Problems

Filed under: Commercial Food Practices,Food Distribution,Food Happenings |

FDALogo_100x100_030712When is olive oil not virgin? Does it matter that the label says “100%” juice? For manufacturers, retailers, and consumers, the answers to these food fraud questions carry real world consequences.

What we eat is no longer merely an exercise in culinary snobbery. Globalization of the food supply chain has introduced multiple potential points at which contamination or outright fraud can occur.

The Food and Drug Administration is on the verge of strengthening rules under which the government can act in cases where suppliers represent a type of food as something that it is not. Whereas before foodstuff could only by embargoed when there was a serious threat to public health, now the FDA has expanded the conditions under which food can be taken off the market. And, if the agency suspects that food is “merely” mislabeled or mischaracterized, the potential deception is reason enough to take enforcement action against the supplier. This arm of the government now effectively equates the health risk from consuming improperly labeled with the economic losses of false marketing.

If you’re a producer skirting the edges of the law for profit by selling foodstuffs that aren’t what you say they are, this is hardly welcome news. For consumers faced with shady claims and deceptive marketing, the increased scrutiny can’t some soon enough.

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