The word authentic is used to describe an object that is not false or copied, it is genuine and real. Authentic food is food (or drink) that exactly meets its description and also meets a person’s reasonable assumption of its character.
Imagine a piece of meat on a plate. It looks like a beef steak with a moist look and no strong odour. It would be reasonable for a person to assume that it is red meat and that it is fresh and would be safe to cook and eat. And if on closer inspection it proved to be fresh red meat then we could agree that the meat was genuine, or authentic. But what if that piece of meat was actually a very well-made plastic display piece? We would say it is a fake; it is inauthentic. Now imagine a second piece of meat on a second plate. It too looks like a fresh and safe-to-eat steak. It has a small card propped next to it which says ‘Grass-fed, Angus beef’. There are explicit written claims being made about this meat; it is beef, it comes from a breed of cattle called ‘Angus’ and it has been fed on grass. Is this true? How can we tell? For this meat to be authentic it would need to be meat from an Angus animal and it would need to have been fed with grass for a proportion of its life equal to that which a reasonable person would assume is meant by the term grass-fed. In some jurisdictions there are legal definitions for the term grass-fed, so the relevant standards would also have to be met for the meat to be considered authentic where those rules apply.
Authenticity is a key requirement of all transactions; we all expect to receive the food or drink that we intended to purchase. Supplying food that is inauthentic, such as olive oil that has been blended with cheaper vegetable oil, oregano that has been mixed with other leaves or ‘organic’ products that were in fact conventionally grown is fraud. And it is a crime. Ten percent of all food businesses are victims of this type of crime each year. Is you business at risk?
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