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Introduction to adulterated foods

Adulterated foods
Hi everyone. My name is Yung-Kun Chuang, the assistant professor of master program in food safety, Taipei Medical University. The topic I will introduce today is food adulteration and an inspection. First of all, I will provide an overview of food adulteration challenges and then, I will briefly introduce several common analytical method. I hope you can enjoy this class. Food is one of the basic necessities for sustenance of life. Pure, fresh, and healthy diet is most essential for the health of the people. In recent years, food adulteration has become an increasing problem globally in the food industry and for consumers. The food adulteration is no doubt greatly responsible for the health problems in the public sector.
Food adulteration is the process in which the quality of food is lowered either by the addition of inferior quality material or by extraction of valuable ingredient. These substances may be other available food items or non-food items. Food adulteration includes the intentional addition or substitution of the substances during the period of growth, storage, processing, transport, and distribution of the food products, is also responsible for the lowering of the quality of food products.
Among all types of adulterations, economic adulteration is the most serious problem facing the whole world. With cost pressures rising for food manufacturers, the threat of illicit or counterfeit substances being used as adulterants grows, and counterfeit versions of quality products may pose a threat to health. Recent times I have seen many food adulteration and beverage adulteration. A food is adulterated if it omits a valuable constituent or substitutes another substance, in whole or in part, for a valuable constituent, for instance, olive oil diluted with tea tree oil. Although not all of the adulterants are necessarily harmful, they are not listed on the ingredients list of given foods, nor are they supposed to be in the product.
To date, food adulteration is high on the Government’s agenda, particularly in the wake of the horse meat incident of 2013. The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, a nonprofit that sets standards used by the FDA, set up a database to track the infractions. Called the Food Fraud Database, and it has a shocking number of entries. While the list of foods on the database is extensive, the top 11 most frequently adulterated foods are things many of us eat every single day. Some of the most common adulterated foods are milk and milk products, olive oils, honey, cereals, tea leaves, and seafood. Milk is one of the most commonly adulterated food items out there.
A look at the FFD turns up pages of search results for milk, with a huge list of adulterants. Milk has been adulterated with whey, bovine milk protein, melamine, urea, starch, cane sugar, and etc.
Another item is olive oil. Olive oil is healthy oil which will not spoil our health with unneeded fats; instead it helps in keeping one healthy. However, in most cases consumers often getting regular olive oil instead of extra virgin or olive oil diluted with other oils in real life situations. The most common form of adulteration comes from mixing olive oil with cheaper, lower-grade oils during processing. Sometimes, it’s an oil from an altogether different source. Other times, they blend extra olive oil with a poorer quality olive oil. Researchers have found that olive oil -even the extra-virgin kind - is the most adulterated food.
Olive oil is frequently diluted with imposter oils such as hazelnut oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, palm oil, and walnut oil.
The next item is honey. Honey is one of the most commonly mislabeled foods, representing 7% of food fraud cases. Cheaper honeys are increasingly passed off as more expensive varieties. The FFD lists a lot of non-honey ingredients, such as sucrose syrup, sugar syrup, partial invert cane syrup, corn syrup, glucose syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, beet sugar, and etc. In the USA, up to one third of honey is thought to be adulterated with high fructose corn syrup, glucose, fructose and even illegal antibiotics and heavy metals. Much of the famous honey tested was found to contain no pollen at all, indicating that it was possibly made entirely of artificial ingredients.
The next item is seafood. Seafood fraud is rampant, with the desired species being substituted for less-desirable, cheaper and even toxic fish. A shocking 2012 Florida study found almost 1/3 of the seafood sampled was not what it was claimed to be with 7 out of 11 tuna samples studied being found not to be tuna. In December 2012, the conservation group Oceana found that 39% of seafood samples bought in New York City were actually mislabeled as a different species. In many cases, less desirable and cheaper species took the place of fresh, local varieties. Numerous incidents have highlighted the need to have the scientific means to check the components of our foods.

Adulteration is a legal term meaning that a food product fails to meet legal standards.

Adulteration is an addition of another substance to a food item in order to increase the quantity of the food item in raw form or prepared form, which may result in the loss of actual quality of food item. These substances may be other available food items or non-food items. Among meat and meat products some of the items used to adulterate are water or ice, carcases, or carcasses of animals other than the animal meant to be consumed.


Yung-Kun Chuang

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Introduction to Nutrition and Food Safety

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