After the horsemeat burger scandal, questions are asked about our other everyday products…
According to recent reports, the recession = a whole lot of corner cutting. Especially when it comes to the food industry, it would seem. Research from both Britain and the U.S has suggested that we could be swallowing a quite different array of ingredients to those advertised on certain products – and paying far too much for the privilege.
While most of the items in question are being bulked up with largely innocuous substances – plain old grass and leaves in teabags, for instance – we’re told that some alien additives could be harmful. Many a tuna-lover has been dismayed to hear that some white tuna is being substituted with a fish banned in several countries due to its links with food poisoning cases. It seems this cheaper fish, the sneaky escolar, might have been successfully masquerading as the tuna fish for some time. Meanwhile, unknown dyes that could be unsafe are allegedly being used to brighten up spices such as paprika and saffron. These are also bulked up with random organic matter. Other offenders found by the Food Fraud Database report include cheese, organic meat, rice, eggs, olive oil, which is being diluted with a cheaper version, and honey, which is also being mixed with an economy variety imported from China, in a process amusingly dubbed ‘honey-laundering’.
There’s also evidence that points to juice manufacturers having jumped on this rather rickety bandwagon. Pomegranate juice, which is believed by some to be a cancer-slowing super-drink, has been found in many instances to contain other fruit juices which are much more cheaply obtained. To add insult to injury, it has been suggested that we are forking out billions of pounds a year extra for these poor products. It does scream of desperation, considering the risk involved with attempting such short-cuts – the trading standards’ penalty for food fakery can run into tens of thousands in fines.
But a general tightening of the purse strings is no reason to turn a blind eye to flagrant fraud. And you wouldn’t bung a bit of soil in your Nescafé to stretch out dwindling supplies until Saturday’s food shop, or put toothpaste in your kids’ Petit Filous. So why should we put up with it from cheeky cost-cutting companies – who claim to care about the consumer in their commercials? Cor. That’s a mouthful. But an important one at that.