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Fake food on the family dinner table

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There are fakes everywhere. There are knock-off designer bags, fake prescription pills, even food on the family table might not be what it seems.

The counterfeit food industry is tremendous. Shaun Kennedy, associate professor of veterinary population medicine at the University of Minnesota, said 10 percent of food in the supermarket is misbranded. Kennedy said an example of a misbranded food would be a pomegranate juice that claims to be 100 percent juice, yet is only 40 percent juice with the rest being water, citric acid and food coloring.

Counterfeits cost the food industry $10 billion to $15 billion annually, according to Kennedy. Every year as foods are copied, the “real” company’s net revenue could take a 2 percent to 10 percent hit.

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Research done by the University of California, Davis, Olive Center found that a high percentage of olive oil sold to consumers is mislabeled as extra virgin, and in some cases, it’s not even olive oil. UC research found 69 percent of imported olive oil samples failed U.S. Department of Agriculture sensory standards for extra virgin olive oil. Negative sensory results were confirmed by chemical data in 86 percent of the cases.

Some of the extra virgin olive oil and regular olive oils were adulterated with canola, safflower or sunflower oil, according to Kennedy.

Consumers should use well-known, brand names at the supermarket. Well-known companies have the most to lose by cheating their customers, the biggest thing being a consumer’s trust.

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