Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Food scams!!!

Hey loves! Rissa here with another tip!
Today's tip is all about health foods and how we are being scammed! Yes I said scammed. I personally am outraged about what I have learned and felt that it is important to share this. So, yesterday Dr. Oz was talking about counterfeit foods and how we are being ripped off at the grocery stores. Well this just made me think twice about the things I buy, thinking that I am making healthy choices for my family and in the end I'm getting tricked! This is infuriating and overwhelming!!!

So here is what I gathered from the show and I will be sure to link the articles and videos below. Scientist believe that 10% of the items we buy are likely tampered with by adding fillers, swapping ingredients or using misleading labels. This is especially true with fish, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, spices, milk and tea.

photo credit www.sanraku.com

Oceana conducted a study revealing that about 38% of the fish (mainly cod, wild salmon, red snapper and grouper) we buy is mislabeled by being swapped with a less expensive fish that have a similar appearance and taste. This was proven through a DNA analysis so the results are accurate. What it comes down to is it's all about PROFIT! It starts with the farmers, then the distributors and finally with the grocery stores, restaurants, etc.

Not only is this frustrating because you are not getting what you paid for but this can also be harmful to ones health or cause sickness. For example Albacore tuna a very popular fish choice especially in sushi is being swapped with Escolar. What is Escolar you make be asking, well let me tell ya. Escolar is also known as snake makeral and has be called the "Ex-Lax of fish"!!!! What tha! This substitute for Albacore tuna has a toxin in it that causes diarrhea, intestinal distress and many more sicknesses. It is advised not to consume more that 6oz of Escolar at a time and the FDA advises against eating it AND it is BANNED in Italy and Japan but still legal here in the US! Huh? Makes ya think twice about those tuna rolls down at the sushi bar doesn't it?!
Tip: In restaurants if the menu advertises the Tuna as "White Tuna" avoid it!

Other common swaps are using tilefish as red snapper which is a health danger due to the amount of mercury in tilefish  (this is very important for pregnant women), the FDA has listed tilefish on the Do Not Eat list. This just gets more disturbing. Catfish is being disguised as grouper which is just totally ripping you off in the wallet department. In fact the most common counterfeit fishes are tuna, snapper, salmon and grouper. C'mon now you know that is just dead wrong!  Fortunately Oceana is campaigning to stop fish fraud.

So how can you avoid being scammed?
  1. Ask questions. If your retailer or restaurant is not able to answer questions about the seafood they are selling, you may want to make a different choice.
  2. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. If a price seems unreasonably low, it may be a sign it’s a mislabeled fish.
  3. Popular fish are commonly swapped. The four fish you need to be extra careful about buying due to frequent mislabeling are some of the most popular species: tuna, snapper, salmon and grouper. Consumers should make sure to ask extra questions when buying these fish.
  4. Buy traceable seafood. Some retailers and restaurants are making commitments to only sell traceable seafood. By supporting traceable seafood, consumers can have more confidence in the seafood they eat. 
  5. Buy the whole fish whenever possible. You can ask for it to be cut into fillets at the store. The more processed your fish and the more hands it passes through, the more opportunities for a bait and switch.
  6. Be extra careful when ordering fish at sushi bars. In every city we tested, sushi venues had the highest rates of seafood fraud, with 100% of the sushi bars visited in New York City selling at least one piece of mislabeled fish. And remember, most everything labeled as “white tuna,” is more than likely escolar, as only albacore tuna is allowed to be called “white tuna” and only when it is sold in a can.
  7. Buy your fish from larger chain supermarkets instead of smaller grocery stores when possible, as your odds of getting a mislabeled fish are much lower. Oceana’s New York City testing revealed 12% of seafood purchased was mislabeled in larger supermarkets versus a whopping 40% for smaller markets.
photo credit www.igourmet.com

Olive Oil
Scientist have conducted studies showing that 70% of the Extra Virgin Olive Oils that we purchase are FAKE! ***gasp*** I personally enjoy using EVOO for the health benefits and I really just like the taste of it. So when I found this out I was just so upset. Its reported that 65% of imported oils doesn't even meet the standards of EVOO. So how are we being fooled by these fake oils? Well these oils can be sunflower seed, hazelnut or even industrial oils that are being passed off as EVOO by adding ingredients to make them appear, smell and taste like a real olive oil.
Again it is all about the MONEY here. Using cheaper ingredients and passing them off as something it's not. Saddens me.
So here are some tips to make sure your extra virgin olive oil is real:
  1. Look for dark glass bottles that protect the oil from light and avoid clear bottles.
  2. Look for the harvest dates this lets you know when the oil was made. Buy the oil within 15 months of that date for best use by date.
  3. Look for a Quality seal. California Olive Oil Council requires EVOO's to pass strict testing to get their seal.
  4. For imported oils avoid brands that advertise a combination of oils from multiple countries, instead look for a specific producer.
  5. This is not 100% accurate but you can put your EVOO in the fridge and if it freezes then it's most likely pure.

This is just some of the ways we are being scammed! Take a look at the following links for even more information.


What are your thoughts on this disturbing news? Feel free to comment with your thoughts!

Happy eating!

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