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Friday 28 February 2014

The Scary Way Drug Gangs Are Infiltrating Our Supermarkets

Gang activity in the supermarket? You may surprised to find that, especially in Europe, this phenomenon exists. Drug gangs are now peddling counterfeit food products to rake in profits. The relatively new market has boomed recently, as drug lords seek new, less regulated economies. As it stands now, penalties for pushing fake rice pale in comparison to those of the drug trade — for the gangs.

Fake food items could be causing sickness, long-term conditions or even death for food shoppers. Products seized in the UK were found to include cheaper peanut powder instead of almond flower, which could prove deadly for a person with peanut-specific allergies. Children's sweets were made with known carcinogen red dye Rhodamine B. Tea claiming to be "slimming" was found to contain prescription obesity medication (13 times the recommended dose).

Products labeled as fish or crab were using fake or untraceable meat ingredients, reminiscent of China's meat scandal where a gang made over $1 million passing off fox, mink and rat meat as mutton or beef.

Vodka and wine enthusiasts, beware. Over 17,000 liters of fake vodka were uncovered — many of which included cleaning fluids or antifreeze. The British government even issued a warning this past holiday season to warn consumers of the consequences (blindness, death and stomach problems) these fake drinks can cause. A recent bust uncovered a massive fake wine business in the U.S..

False labeling, diluting products and selling completely fake products — these illegal activities pay big bucks. The National Center for Food Protection and Defense estimates that Americans pay $10 billion to $15 billion annually for fake food. Chinese honey frauds alone have cost the U.S. honey industry billions in profits.

Mike Ellis, the head of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Interpol and Europol discusses how high-tech the fake food business is becoming.

"In Qatar we found a re-labeling machine, which was designed with the illegal purpose of changing expiry dates on drinks labels. Then, we found one exactly the same in Africa," Ellis said in an interview with the Sunday Times.

Will the world see more "food busts" in the coming years? Government officials, catching wind of the substandard food products, are encouraging increased funding to study the faux food trade and work with other security organizations to crack down on food criminals.



Lowcarb team member said...

Scary stuff indeed and with the food inspection industry, government cuts etc quite worrying. Oh to be able to get all food from a trusted farmers market where they know and can trace all foods back. Unfortunately we have to 'trust' the supermarket and the supply chain......?

All the best Jan

Caron said...

This article is horrifying. I remember incidents with baby formula and dog treats from China with terrible things like melamine in them, but I had no idea how bad it really was. Our world has become very scary. :(

Lowcarb team member said...

Hi Caron - thanks for your comment. Yes, I too remember the baby formula incident. The scary thing is there will be more ... what a world.

All we can do is to eat real food which comes from a traceable and accountable source - not always possible - and the rest we rely on others to do their best to protect us!

All the best Jan