The global food industry, as you might expect, is an economic behemoth. In the United States alone, according to International Business Times, the average person spends more than $2,200 a year on foodstuffs. Globally, food sales exceed $12 trillion.
As in any other industry where a lot of money can be made, counterfeiters have literally spent centuries finding more effective ways to emulate the most popular and expensive foods in the world. Using cheaper production methods and even cheaper ingredients, fraudsters today have infiltrated some of the most lucrative food industries on the planet. What are some of the most commonly ripped off foods? The answer might shock you.
Three Popular Foods That Are All Too Commonly Counterfeited
- Olive Oil: The Ancient Panacea
- All the Different Types of Hummus
- Increasingly Ubiquitous Balsamic Vinegar
The first olive oil is thought to have been pressed sometime in the 700s BCE. Used for everything from moisturizer to machine lubricant to flavoring, olive oil quickly became one of the most commonly counterfeited foods in the world. Today, the counterfeit industry is so prolific that, according to Tom Mueller’s 2013 novel Extra Virginity, as much as 70% of the olive oils sold in stores are actually mostly hazelnut, sunflower, and other seed oils mixed with trace amounts of olive oil.
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to know when an olive oil is real or not. Basically, thanks to lax labeling standards, your only option is to research the manufacturer of each olive oil to ascertain whether or not you’re getting duped.
Like salsa and guacamole, hummus spreads, from roasted garlic hummus dips to spicy hummus dips, have become some of the most popular dips in American supermarkets. Their popularity makes them a prime target for counterfeiters.
According to the popular news website Reason.com, multiple American hummus producers have filed complaints with the FDA, urging the government body to put new rules into place to criminalize counterfeit hummus spread. While the agency is dragging its feet on the proposed rule changes, you can spot a hummus hoax by looking at the ingredients. If the first two ingredients on the list aren’t chickpeas and tahini (sesame paste), you’re getting a knockoff version. Using an easy hummus recipe to make your own at home is obviously also a great way to avoid the issue.
Like olive oil, vinegar is one of the oldest foods commonly consumed today. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most commonly counterfeited, especially the balsamic variety. Luckily, diluted balsamic vinegar is really easy to spot, both because its flavor will be more akin to water than the real stuff and because the ingredients list makes a clear distinction between real and counterfeit. True balsamic vinegar, according to Fox News, will have “grape must” in the ingredients list. Any balsamic vinegar without grape must is just a pretender.
After following our suggestions to sleuth out counterfeit versions of hummus spread, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, did you find any impostors on your shelf? Let us know in the comments below. To learn more, read this: sabra.com