Challanges in food part 1

A couple of food items have caught my eye recently.  Here’s the first in two pieces about them…

First is this article about the practice of food fraud:

John Spink, an expert on food and packaging fraud at Michigan State University, estimates that 5 to 7 percent of the U.S. food supply is affected but acknowledges the number could be greater. “We know what we seized at the border, but we have no idea what we didn’t seize,” he said.

The National Seafood Inspection Laboratory, part of the Marine Fisheries Service, randomly sampled seafood from vendors between 1988 and 1997; it found that 34 percent had been mislabeled and sold as a different species. In 2004, scientists at the University of North Carolina estimated that 77 percent of snapper sold in the United States is mislabeled.

This can be a serious problem but allow me to make a suggestion to minimize your risks at least for a portion of the food you might eat.  Consider buying and eating the ‘lower quality’ items that may be passed off as something else.  An example:

And last year, a Fairfax man was convicted of selling 10 million pounds of cheap, frozen catfish fillets from Vietnam as much more expensive grouper, red snapper and flounder.

That catfish is probably Basa or Swai which are reasonably good in terms of their environmentally impact are dirt cheap (fillets are available at my local market for around 3.99 a pound) and are quite versatile and forgiving to cook with.  So, if you’re looking at a one third chance of not getting that expensive piece of fish you were thinking of getting why not give the alternative a shot and use the rest to bring home a nice bottle of wine?

Uh oh…

…E&J Gallo, the nation’s largest wine seller, sold 18 million bottles of Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir between 2006 and 2008 that had been filled in France with wine made from cheaper merlot and syrah grapes, according to a French court that last month indicted a dozen of its citizens in a scam dubbed Pinotgate.

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