Saturday, 28 March 2015

The A Team That Tracks The Poisonous Additives In Our Food....

Some groceries are not what they seem. Just ask Mitchell Weinberg. As head of a firm called Inscatech, he specializes in the dirty details of adulterating edibles - shortcuts and substitutions that can lead to disaster. Business is booming: Reports of tainted food climbed 60 percent between 2010 and 2013, according to the non-profit US Pharmacopeial Convention. Inscatech is a sort of food A-Team, the outfit brands hire when they suspect their supply chains have been compromised.

Dubious about the cocoa in your cake mixes? Weinberg will recruit local operatives with backgrounds in intelligence to track the ingredient from its source. Working incognito, his agents scrutinize equipment, staff, and methods. “Whatever legal and ethical techniques can be employed, we employ,” Weinberg says. He is also amassing a library of genetic and chemical fingerprints, a tool for spotting abnormalities. Quick tip: Don’t eat jam in Taipei.

Melamine The cause of China’s infamous milk crisis, melamine mimics protein in lab tests, so it’s an easy way to push diluted milk products that seem like the real deal. It has caused kidney damage and death in infants.

Phthalates Clouding agents like palm oil add smooth mouth feel to jams, and they’re legal. But not phthalates, a chemical substitute—and suspected endocrine disrupter—that’s been found in Taiwanese jam.

Chlorophyll Derivatives Olive oil is often diluted with lower-quality vegetable oils or spiked with chlorophyll derivatives, which impart the greenish tint that some consumers associate with quality olive oil.

Chloramphenicol When honey is harvested too early, it’s watery and prone to spoilage. So some Southeast Asian honeys are treated with chloramphenicol, an antibiotic known to cause liver damage.

Dust Low-quality tea means a mix with more dust and scraps and fewer actual leaves—which consumers can’t easily inspect if they’re buying pre-bagged teas. Better loose-leaf than sorry.

Methanol Implicated in recent counterfeit booze scares in the UK and Czech Republic, it’s one of the most dangerous alcohol adulterants, a toxic and undetectable addition that can cause blindness and death.

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