How Forensics Scientists Expose Food Fakers

Photo: flickr/quinn.anya

Photo: flickr/quinn.anya

We’ve been reading horror stories of various food abuses around the world all this week. Whether it’s tainted seafood from Asia or diluted olive oil, there seems to be no food group safe from potential shadiness.

In these scenarios, food forensic scientists are often our first line of defense, relied upon by a motley crew including the Food and Drug Administration, corporations, and consumer advocates. Their training in analysis lends itself well to looking into the origins of food, as Fast Company reveals in a profile.

Last December, investigators discovered that escolar being passed off as white tuna in New York City sushi restaurants. Alton Brown affectionately nicknamed it “laxative fish” for its “high level of wax esters [which] leads to intestinal cramping and diarrhea in many customers.” 

In Italy, DNA testing was conducted on Buffalo mozzarella to sniff out fraudulent cheeses claiming to adhere to the standards of the EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) seal. It turned out there was “widespread adulteration of retail buffalo milk mozzarella with ordinary cow mozzarella.” 

[via Fast Company]

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