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The Most Adulterated Food Products: Olive Oil, Milk, Honey And More

Posted: 04/ 6/2012 12:37 pm Updated: 04/ 6/2012 1:01 pm

The April issue of the Journal of Food Science analyzes the most adulterated ingredients -- in other words, the most common instances of food fraud. Food fraud, defined in a report commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security, is a "collective term that encompasses the deliberate substitution, addition, tampering or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients or food packaging, or false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain."

Though not all the contaminants are necessarily harmful (i.e. grapefruit juice), they are not listed on the ingredients list of given foods, nor are they supposed to be in the product. Adulterants are used to cut corners and save money, and in the process contaminate the food. In short, using grapefruit juice in a carton that contains 100% orange juice is misleading, and illegal.

The Journal of Food Science research focuses on the database FoodFraud.org, which contains 1,054 records of scholarly research and 251 media reports.

Check out the 7 most adulterated ingredients:

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  • Olive Oil

    It's a bit disturbing to think about that a lot of the extra virgin olive oil you consume is contaminated with deodorants and other, non-olive oils. Tom Mueller's book, "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-mueller/fake-olive-oil_b_1174428.html" target="_hplink">Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil</a>," tackles this issue. The Food Fraud Database lists adulterants such as corn oil, hazelnut oil and palm oil. <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/celticsu/3102164381/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user:Suzi Rosenberg</a></em>

  • Milk

    After all the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/26/china-tainted-milk_n_1169896.html" target="_hplink">tainted milk scares in China</a>, it's no surprise that milk is at the top of the food fraud list. Adulterants include whey, bovine milk protein, melamine and cane sugar. <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/markhillary/829573216/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: markhillary</a></em>

  • Honey

    One third of honey in the U.S. is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/17/honey-tainted_n_929517.html" target="_hplink">potentially tainted</a>. That means high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, fructose and more. <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sionakaren/3870732249/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: Siona Karen</a></em>

  • Saffron

    Perhaps it's no surprise that saffron is often adulterated, given that it is the most expensive spice in the world. The Food Fraud Database lists sandlewood dust, starch, yellow dye and gelatin threads as some of the contaminants. <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jackson3/3770492248/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: Steven Jackson Photography</a></em>

  • Orange Juice

    Orange juice has been in the news a lot lately after the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/11/orange-juice-imports-fda-fungicide-_n_1200305.html" target="_hplink">fungicide scare</a>. Fungicide might be the tip of the iceberg though -- apparently it can also contain grapefruit juice, marigold flower extract, corn sugar and paprika extract. <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfllaw/335982719/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: sfllaw</a></em>

  • Coffee

    How do you take your coffee? We're guessing probably without chicory, roasted corn, caramel, malt, glucose, leguminous plants and maltodextrins. <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dyobmit/18588671/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: dyobmit</a></em>

  • Apple Juice

    Once we learned that there might be <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/01/arsenic-apple-juice_n_1122979.html" target="_hplink">arsenic in apple juice</a>, we realized that no food ingredient is safe. Although the arsenic might have been blown out of proportion, there are several other common contaminants in everyone's favorite juice box. These include: high-fructose corn syrup, raisin sweetener and synthetic malic acid. <em>Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/garryknight/5761086703/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr user: garryknight</a></em>

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Filed by Carey Polis  |