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Protecting yourself against food fraud

One of the fastest growing frauds in America is food fraud. But, what is food fraud? When you open a bottle of olive you expect to get olive oil. What you don’t expect to get is hazelnut oil. Yet, that’s what some consumers may be getting, even if it’s not marked on the label. This is happening with hundreds of foods around the nation, and even around the world. But, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

Is your olive oil actually olive oil? Or is it a health risk?
Is your olive oil actually olive oil? Or is it a health risk?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/77568040@N08/ Daniella Segura

Buy whole foods

We tend to buy pre-processed canned foods, like soups, diced tomatoes, and canned corn because they’re simply easier to use. We often think of them as an ingredient, not a processed food, yet that’s exactly what they are. Many of these things can contain ingredients we aren’t aware of, even if we’ve read the lable. Buying whole tomatoes can keep harsh chemicals like lye, and bromine off your table.

Buy loose leaf tea

Tea bags are certainly easier to use than loose leaf tea, but they’re also easier to sneak things like lawn grass into. Yes, lawn grass. They might also contain things like oak leafs instead of grape or berry leafs. If it tastes too green, there might be an unsavory reason for that.

Purchase whole spices

This one can get pricey, but there are multiple benefits to it. First, it keeps some manufacturer somewhere from slipping gum powder into your ground cinnamon or nutmeg. Second, you’ll get a spice that tastes better. Third, you’re spices will stay fresh-tasting longer.

Don’t buy new food trends

When new food trends come out people are always looking to cash in on it’s popularity. This often leads to unmarked ingredient substitutions. Things like acai berry juice are easily cut with things like grape juice and apple juice, which are cheaper.

Know your source

It may seem strange to research the farms your food is grown on, but it’s a practice that’s well worth the time and effort. Especially if you have severe food allergies. You’re olive oil might be cut with hazelnut oil, and if you have a tree nut allergy this can be deadly. It’s always better to buy from a farmer’s market where you can actually talk to the grower. But for those that can’t the Internet could save your life.

Be safe. Be vigilant. And happy eating!