Diethylene glycol (DEG) is a substance that is highly toxic to humans. It is used in a wide range of applications, such as brake fluid and as a raw material for resins, and it is often present in antifreeze. In Brazil, more than a dozen people were poisoned by beer containing DEG. The suspected products were recalled and the case is under investigation. It is not clear yet whether the DEG was intentionally added to commit fraud, or whether the contamination was unintentional. We are observing this case very closely, since diethylene glycol has been used for fraudulent purposes in beverages in the past.
Nearly 800 tons of minced meat worth more than $5.5 million was adulterated in a way where the meat was replaced with soy, beef fat, animal skin and starch. The meat was supplied from Poland and sold in France to charitable organizations like the Red Cross. The ingredients, which were of very low quality, did not pose a health risk, however, altered the taste and texture of the meat; an investigation is ongoing.
Booze bootleggers are still quite active since there is a lot of money exchanging hands in the high-end wine and liquor business. Fake premium Penfolds wines, which can fetch several hundred dollars per bottle, as well as acclaimed brands of adulterated whisky, were discovered and seized in a liquor store in Cambodia. Besides the fake beverages, the raid also uncovered fake labels and packaging materials.
In many parts of India, mustard oil is widely consumed as an edible oil and for ceremonial use, and is a target for adulterations for economic gain. In a test of 20 samples, 80% of the samples were adulterated. Adulterants, some of them hazardous to human health, often consist of cheaper oils such as palm or sesame seed oil, as well as added dyes or flavor components. Tests were made using TLC Chromatography, nitric acid test, azo dye test and other test methods.
Honey is a popular item for adulteration, and honey with a specific botanical source is seen as a more valuable product. The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority took samples of organic Spanish lavender honey in a Czech supermarket, and analyzed the pollen. The analysis showed that the honey was from alternative botanical sources and certainly not lavender.
The following infographic is a snapshot of the hazard trends in nuts, nut products and seeds from Q3 2019. The information has been pulled from the HorizonScan quarterly report, which summarizes recent global adulteration trends using data gathered from more than 120 reliable sources worldwide. For the past several weeks, Food Safety Tech has provided readers with hazard trends from various food categories included in this report. This week’s hazard snapshot concludes the series.
The nose knows: In case fish smells “fishy”, it is no longer fit for human consumption. A Canadian fish importing company pleaded guilty to the import of 9,000 pounds of rotten and partially decomposed fish into the United States. The potentially adulterated fish was sampled by the FDA, who declared it to be too spoiled to be sold in the country, hence refused its entry into the United States—but the fish was imported via a wrong shipment declaration anyway. The crime of importing refused food carries a prison sentence of up to a year.
The following infographic is a snapshot of the hazard trends in milk and dairy from Q3 2019. The information has been pulled from the HorizonScan quarterly report, which summarizes recent global adulteration trends using data gathered from more than 120 reliable sources worldwide. For the past several weeks, Food Safety Tech has provided readers with hazard trends from various food categories included in this report. Next week will conclude this series.
In a large study of nearly 6000 products, more than a quarter (27%) of herbal medicines and foods sold in 37 countries on six continents was found to be deliberately or accidentally adulterated. In this study, the products, which came in a variety of forms such as softgels, tea and more, were analyzed with high throughput DNA sequencing and showed mislabeling, added fillers, substituted ingredients or contaminants. Such fraud can be a harmful to consumer health and safety, and must be monitored and tracked closely.
Ichim, M.C. (October 24, 2019). “The DNA-Based Authentication of Commercial Herbal Products Reveals Their Globally Widespread Adulteration”. “Stejarul” Research Centre for Biological Sciences, National Institute of Research and Development for Biological Sciences, Piatra Neamt, Romania. Frontiers in Pharmacology. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2019.01227/full.
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