Monday, July 22, 2013


Is the world becoming fatalistic when it comes to food safety and frauds? It looks like people are getting reconciled to a food market where adulterated and fraudulent products, some with high risk to life, finding place on the shelves or being traded through Internet sales. Recent adulteration incidence involving beef which was mixed with horse meat in communited preparations has revived this issue disturbing the minds of millions of honest consumers. This episode which was reported from some European countries has caused despair among safety agencies as they are unable to keep step with the destructive but innovative fraudsters defying all the odds in enticing the unsuspecting consumers through price manipulation. If some of the experts in this area are to be believed, such frauds will be difficult to be controlled by the vigilance agencies and will continue to haunt mankind in increasing numbers in the coming years. Here is a take on this unfortunate trend which is spreading like wild fire across the world. 

"Recently, European gourmands shuddered when many of their "beef" products were discovered to contain as much as 100 percent horse meat. Followed by that: Arrests of Chinese traders selling rat meat labeled as lamb (baaaa). Can it be managed? "Unfortunately, controlling the amount of fraud that occurs daily in the food industry is next to impossible," said Michael Roberts, a professor of food law and policy at UCLA and director of the Center for Food Law and Policy. And he believes that no food is immune to this situation. "Almost anything can be adulterated in some way," he added, "either to persuade consumers to buy something for their health, or by diluting it to save money on the supplier end."

No doubt the food fraud industry is much more profitable than the main stream industry, the profit margin being 50% to 100%, compared to just 5-15% on clean food products. The only way to stop such rampant frauds will be to educate the consumers regarding the futility in going for cheap products from manufacturers of doubtful reputation. To some extent fast paced prosecution of fraudsters and severe punishment can deter many potential food criminals from entering this lucrative business. Organic food manufacturers are generally under tight vigilance forced to adopt strict safety standards and reputed and established brands cannot be expected to stoop to the level of adulterating their products that can destroy their brand reputation in the long run. Ultimately the safest way would be to buy raw fresh foods from the local markets or rural markets or reputed fresh produce dealers and spend a little more time in the kitchen to cook and eat them. This way the content of processed foods in the daily diet can be significantly reduced with its attendant benefits. Spare a thought for this alternative for the sake of safety of the families as a whole. 


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