Every so often, a big story involving food fraud grabs international headlines. Back in 2013, news broke that mass quantities of European meat products—everything from hamburgers to frozen lasagnas—were being made with horse meat instead of beef. Around the same time, smaller scandals involving wood pulp in parmesan cheese, and regular old steaks being passed off as expensive cuts of kobe beef, captivated the public here and there. But for the most part, the phenomenon of food fraud (any instance in which consumers are duped into buying one thing, when they’re really expecting another) isn’t something the average American thinks about on a daily basis.
Luckily, people like Chris Elliott exist, working behind-the-scenes to make sure that fraudulent foods are kept off the shelves and out of restaurants. On Monday, CNN’s Great Big Story profiled Elliott—who serves as a professor of food safety at Queens University in Bellfast—shining a light on the important work he and his colleagues perform on a daily basis.
- Fish: “We think we’re buying one type of fish and actually it’s not, it’s a completely different species."
- Oregano: “25 percent of all the oregano on sale in the US has some sort of fraud associated with it.”
- Parmesan cheese: “Some of the parmesan cheese was being taken out and actually cardboard being put in its place. Quite remarkable.”
- Coconuts: “We were told there was big fraud going on in coconuts. And guess what? There is.”
Despite the stomach-churning results Elliott often stumbles upon, he says he wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
“As a job, what I do in looking at protecting the integrity of the global food supply system, I think it’s important, and I wouldn’t choose any other career,” he explains.
[via Great Big Story]