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Monday, Feb 11 2013 11:00 PM

Consumers not getting the food they're buying

By The Bakersfield Californian

It's possible the food you think you are eating, and sometimes paying premium prices for, may not be the food you think you are eating and paying for.

An alarming report released last month by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, an independent, nonprofit laboratory dedicated to ferreting out food fraud, reveals that it has found nearly 800 new cases of intentional mislabeling, an increase of 60 percent since 2010.

Adding grass clippings to tea bags, diluting expensive pomegranate juice with less expensive grape and pear juice, adding cheaper oils to extra-virgin olive oil and even adding "clouding agents" that make juices appear freshly squeezed are among the examples of food fraud cited in the report.

Escolar, a fish that contains properties the human system can't digest and can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, is increasingly marketed as "white tuna," and is not a member of the tuna family at all.

An ABC News report added that about 7 percent of the United States food supply contains fraudulent ingredients. The Food and Drug Administration said last month that it takes the issue of food fraud seriously. Consumers should be holding the FDA to that promise.

And if we consumers are not confident in the ability of a monolithic federal bureaucracy to protect us, we can help ourselves by being informed buyers. Use whole foods where possible, and purchase known brands you trust.

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