FDA Pushed to Fight Rising ‘Food Fraud’

The food industry is pushing the Food and Drug Administration to combat rising “food fraud” — instances of foods with falsely labeled packaging, The Washington Post reports.

According to a conservative estimate by a researcher at Michigan State University, 5 to 7 percent of food in the U.S. could be affected. The Post cites several examples: A man in Virginia was convicted last year of selling 10 million pounds of frozen catfish as more expensive grouper, red snapper or flounder. In 2004, scientists at the University of North Carolina estimated that 77 percent of red snapper sold in the U.S. was actually a different kind of fish. The list goes on to include honey, caviar, fruit juice and many other products sold in national grocery stores, restaurants and local markets.

Focused on food safety, the FDA long overlooked what the food actually was. Now industry groups such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association are pushing the FDA to use new technology and start catching mislabeled items. Tools such as DNA testing have made fraud detection relatively easy. Last year, two high school students in New York randomly tested 66 foods bought at markets in Manhattan. With the help of scientists at Rockefeller University and the American Museum of Natural History, they found that 11 of those foods were not what their labels said they were.

Read The Post’s full story here.

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About the author

Matthew Richmond is a researcher-reporter for FairWarning.

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