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Adulterated food, etc.

Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:28 am
by cornivore
I was reading about this ocurring in spices. But wait, there's more...
Food fraud, "the intentional adulteration of food with cheaper ingredients for economic gain", is a well-documented crime that has existed in the U.S. and Europe for many decades. It has only received more attention in recent years as the fear of bioterrorism has increased. Numerous cases of intentional food fraud have been discovered over the last few years. As of 2013, the foods most commonly listed as adulterated or mislabelled in the United States Pharmacopeia Convention's Food Fraud Database were: milk, olive oil, honey, saffron, fish, coffee, orange juice, apple juice, black pepper, and tea... more on that here
Food adulteration a rising problem in India: In a recent report, the Public Health Foundation of India attributed 80 percent of all premature deaths to contaminated food and water.
And here I was just getting into curry...
Often fraud is perpetrated in high value food commodities and those which come via complex supply chains. Probably herbs and spices fit these characteristics more than any other food ingredients and are thus highly vulnerable . . .
The CDC gives a laundry list of spices with average lead level ≥1 mg/kg sampled during lead investigations:
Lead can contaminate spices during many points in the global supply chain. Spices are often grown in countries polluted by leaded gasoline, smelters, battery manufacturing plants, and mines. Lead is deposited in soil and water from airborne pollutants and fertilizer application. Lead dust from grinding machinery can also contaminate spices. Spices might also be adulterated deliberately with lead to enhance color or increase weight. Because >95% of spices consumed in the United States are imported, recommendations to purchase only locally grown spices are impractical. According to the World Health Organization, the permissible limit of lead for infant formula is 0.02 mg/kg lead and for salt is 2 mg/kg. No U.S. permissible limit for lead in spices exists; however, the FDA limit for lead in natural-source food color additives (e.g., paprika, saffron, and turmeric) is 10 mg/kg. The FDA action levels (i.e., the levels at which an investigation is undertaken, or a recall is issued, depending upon the circumstances and findings) for products intended for consumption by children are 0.1 mg/ kg for candy and 0.5 mg/kg for other foods; however, spices are not considered food intended for consumption by children.
Similar studies done in areas where the spice is produced indicate that it is a source of exposure for children . . .
In our study, turmeric samples had high concentrations of lead, with high levels of bioaccessibility, suggesting that contamination of food spices may be an important source of lead exposure in this setting.
A Spoonful of Lead: A 10-Year Look at Spices as a Potential Source of Lead Exposure . . .
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tested more than 3000 samples of consumer products during lead poisoning case investigations and surveys of local stores, and of these, spices were the most frequently tested (almost 40% of the samples)... More than 50% of the spice samples had detectable lead, and more than 30% had lead concentrations greater than 2 ppm. Average lead content in the spices was significantly higher for spices purchased abroad than in the United States. Certain commonly used spices, particularly those purchased abroad in Georgia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Morocco, can have very high lead levels, which can contribute to lead body burden. This underscores the need to develop comprehensive interventions that educate consumers and initiate intergovernmental efforts for stricter global food regulations.
In general, they say that lead exposure has been declining in the USA . . . However, it seems that spices are mostly imported/rebranded, and often adulterated. Supposedly, there are some simple tests that we may do to detect adulteration in spices, although I haven't found them to be advocated by health agencies. Well, I'll be doing taste tests in order to rethink my recipes and see how many spices I can eliminate, flavor-wise, before getting into that home testing alchemy. Maybe water testing kits could work, but spices aren't cheap anyway, and would only cost more if the quality control were improved, I guess... then again, I'd imagine that unsuspecting people still pay top dollar for the adulterated stuff—'spice supplements' especially—but either way, such a choice should be off the table, and none of it should be impure (well, I heard that was only an illicit drug thing).

Just when you thought it was safe to have a spice rack... :roll:
Variety is the death of spice: did you know that there are more fucking spice racks than there are spices, and the spice aint even fucking right?
You can't make this stuff up!

Re: Adulterated food, etc.

Posted: Wed Dec 12, 2018 1:16 am
by cornivore
So I'm looking up some of the other powders on my shelf... It isn't just the stuff from India; for example, most of the garlic is from China (oh, great, wall... of Shinola), and it was recently suspected of adulteration, as well.
One of the world's foremost experts on food fraud is warning about the possibility that garlic powder on store shelves including those in Canada may contain inferior ingredients...

Garlic sales around the world so far this year are on pace with those last year, Elliott said, despite a particularly cold bout of weather that laid waste to vast tracts of garlic crops in China, which produces most of the world's supply.

"Where's all the garlic coming from?"...

Elliott and other researchers are investigating garlic supply chains to determine whether garlic powder has been diluted with other products, such as talcum or chalk.

His suspicions about spices have been right before.

Last year, Elliott published a study that showed about a quarter of oregano sold in the U.K. and Ireland contained other products, including olive and myrtle leaves.

"It didn't matter the price of the oregano — the very expensive oregano or the very cheap — the adulteration happened across the full spectrum," he said in a keynote speech earlier this week at a global conference in Quebec City about food fraud.

There are common threads Elliott said he looks for when trying to uncover cases of food fraud.

"Has there been crop failures? Are there price wars going on in a particular commodity?" he said. "Currency fluctuations are another driving factor (and) political instability and corruption" . . .
Okay then, forget all of the powdered stuff, and dried herbs, even... no mystery there: shit happens (at best). I don't need much help with that... otherwise being capable of unadulterated shat. ;)

Re: Adulterated food, etc.

Posted: Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:00 am
by cornivore
I was thinking about this again today (not much differently, just with a bigger picture in mind). It's a wonder how they manage to concoct all kinds of legal or illegal drugs here, yet can't simply grow some spice. :? I think people want to keep the spice trade the way it is, and keep its problems over there, so they can continue to import them, and share the wealth in ways that aren't supposed to be in anyone's best interests (except for fraud being harder to get away with here, or wherever else, directly—either way, they're getting away with murder)... or at least they need that kind of excuse to make more drugs.
The right to food is an internationally recognized human right, which inherently denotes the right to safe food simply because unsafe foods cause different diseases resulting in consumer's disability, organ failure, or even early demise. Food safety currently may not be an issue of public concern in Australia, but it has been a "silent killer" for decades in both Bangladesh and India contributing to deaths of thousands and injuries of millions of others. Unscrupulous businesses have been making money at the cost of immense human casualties with almost complete impunity in Bangladesh. The situation in Bangladesh is so intractable that the government has been making laws one after another; but food traders remain undeterred, and consequently consumers continue to die from adulterated foods... A Critical Analysis
Furthermore, economically motivated adulteration (EMA) incidents reveal gaps in quality assurance testing methodologies that could be exploited for intentional harm. In contrast to foodborne disease outbreaks, EMA incidents present a particular challenge to the food industry and regulators because they are deliberate acts that are intended to evade detection... Prevention and detection of EMA cannot depend on traditional food safety strategies... Common characteristics of EMA incidents
Looks like they'll adulterate everything they can to the fullest extent possible! I'm more interested in how little I can eat though, so enough about that (or feel free to talk about food anyway—it's to die for, as they say—Oh, OK... I'd thought they were kidding, but now it's no wonder that the same cultures known for all of those flavors are also known for fasting)!

Re: Adulterated food, etc.

Posted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 9:53 am
by cornivore
By the way, other cultures have been noted for imports of adulterated candy, although table sugar seems to be the least commonly adulterated ingredient, compared to other spices mixed with it.
Protecting Children from Overexposure to Lead in Candy . . . the state of California had been testing for lead in candies for decades but had not informed the public about the high lead levels in many candies, candy wrappers and seasonings (sold as a snack item and consumed as candy) imported from Mexico, the Philippines and other countries
Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention . . . FDA recognizes that some types of Mexican candy have been found to contain levels of lead that are the result of avoidable lead contamination... Source of lead in these products: Chili peppers not washed to remove soil borne lead; Use of salt from some sources that contain higher lead levels (but still within FCC specification). Little change anticipated for candies that contain essentially sugar, due to extremely low lead levels consistently found in sugar; Sugar is a highly refined ingredient, i.e. solution and re-crystalization.
There's an additional risk of the packages adulterating the products (or hands too), as ink did in those reports; and BPA, etc. Fraud can occur in the raw material, in an ingredient, in the final product or in the food’s packaging . . .