Cassia bark, which resembles cinnamon bark has been imported to India from China in large quantities in recent months. Cassia is a common diluent and substitute for cinnamon. Cassia bark is toxic. Just last year researchers found seven of ten samples of cinnamon bark in India to have been adulterated with cassia. India is the world’s largest exporter of spices.
Cinnamon is at very high risk of fraudulent adulteration, substitution and dilution and the increase in cassia trading has increased that risk. Purchasers of cinnamon should remain vigilant, and those purchasing in large volumes should implement authenticity testing regimes. Read more about cassia bark imports
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Industrial dye adulterants in wealthy countries
There have been reports of illegal dyes found in jars of beetroot in Germany. The preserved beetroot contained Rhodamine B. This follows previous reports of adulteration of ‘natural plant extract’ colourants in Europe. The ‘natural’ extracts were supposedly made from hibiscus and beetroot but contained Reactive Red 195. Illegal dyes, including those designed for textile manufacturing are common food adulterants in developing countries, where they have been used by unscrupulous merchants in large-scale manufacturing, artisan food businesses and at the retail level. Developed countries are not immune. Purchasers of very brightly coloured food should remain vigilant to this risk.
Food packaging fraud uncovered in USA
A study in North America found toxic chemicals in one third of food packaging materials that are supposed to be safe for food contact. It is unusual for packaging to be tested for the purposes of fraud detection. The substitution of cheaper low grade packaging materials for food-grade materials would be very profitable. The cost of raw materials for plastic packaging is rising which increases the likelihood of food fraud. There is likely to be significant fraud occurring in the ‘food-grade’ plastics sector and this fraud can be expected to continue.
Free-range milk hits the shelves
Free-range milk has been introduced to the United Kingdom by a large supermarket chain. There are no laws that define free-range milk in the United Kingdom. Premium priced ‘free-range’ milk is likely to be indistinguishable from other milks to the average consumer. There is a risk that unscrupulous operators will mis-declare milk as ‘free range’ or take advantage of the lack of legal definition of such. There is also a risk that some dairy brands may inadvertently breach their own claims about the number of days a herd has been outdoors. Milk from less well-known brands and small traders is most at risk of inaccurate claims around ‘free-range’.
Trouble is brewing in craft beer
Walmart in the USA has been accused of misleading consumers by marketing a mass-produced beer as a ‘craft-brew’. Ironically the beer is sold under the brand name ‘Trouble Brewing’. Craft beer attract significantly higher prices than mass-produced beer and is at high risk of being fraudulently marketed.