Buyer beware: the rise of food fraud

 作者:折赈     |      日期:2019-03-02 05:13:00
By Kate Ravilious Take a look at the basmati rice in your local shop. Are you sure it is the fine, flavoursome grain the name suggests? Was it really grown in those green northern Indian paddy fields that the picture on the packet shows? Perhaps not. In 2002 the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) carried out the first DNA survey of basmati rice sold in the UK. It found that only 54 per cent of the bags labelled as such contained pure basmati rice – defined as a particular species of grain grown in the plains around the Ganges in northern India and east Pakistan. All the other samples had been diluted with inferior varieties – some by more than 60 per cent. One FSA official calculated that the fraud swindled consumers out of over £5 million that year alone. Basmati is not the only superior-quality food that has been targeted by fraudsters. Honey, whisky, gin, vodka, fruit juice, butter, cheese, meat, fish, coffee and even potatoes: they have all been packed out with inferior brands and found their way into supermarkets, shops and bars. Food fraud is big business. For obvious reasons no one knows its true extent, but spot checks and surveys suggest that criminals and crooked food producers cheat shoppers out of hundreds of millions of pounds every year. “When we have done surveys on individual foods the level of fraud is often around 10 per cent,” says Mark Woolfe, a scientist in the FSA’s enforcement division in London. “The UK food sector alone is worth around £70 billion per year,