Food fraud – a growing concern across the world

Laboratory tests have revealed that all 10 of a cross-section of honey brands on sale in Europe failed to meet Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) standards, reports the Consumer VOICE organisation on its website. The tests focused on the C4 sugar content of the honeys. The group says high C4 levels are an indication of that the honey has been adulterated with added sugars, although some groups insist that is not a reliable indicator of fraudulent activity. New FSSAI standards which come in to effect today (January 1, 2019) set a maximum proportion of C4 sugars in pure honeys at 7 per cent, and nine of the 10 brands (24 Mantra, Baidyanath, Dabur, Fresh & Pure, Hitkary, Himalaya, Khadi, Patanjali, Reliance and Zandu) failed that threshold with only Zandu coming in under the bar. The latter failed on other criteria, however, according to the consumer organisation.

Saffron farmers in the Taliouine area of Morocco say that their livelihoods are being threatened by counterfeit, low-quality crops which are tarnishing the spice’s protected designation of origin (PDO) status and undercutting their businesses, according to a article. The region is famous for its saffron (Crocus sativus), grown by small farmers using traditional techniques in the shadow of Mount Toubkal, an area that has the dramatic climate conditions (hot summers and cold, wet winters) needed to cultivate a high-quality crop. PDO-certified saffron sells for about €3 per gram, but copies laced with chemical dyes and materials from other plants are sold for less than a euro per gram. Morocco is said to be the world’s fourth-largest producer of saffron, behind Iran, India and Greece.

A Vietnamese court has jailed five people for food safety violations after they were found guilty of bulking up black pepper with coffee bean skins and ground gravel dyed using a black powder (manganese dioxide) harvested from spent batteries, according to an article in Laboratory tests revealed that toxic adulterants made up over 18 per cent of confiscated black pepper samples. The criminals made more than 33,000 kilograms of the bulking material, giving an indication of the massive scale of food fraud. The five received sentences of between seven and eight years in jail.