Dr Oz: Counterfeit Foods
Dr Oz shared that some of the foods you’re buying, foods that even Dr Oz has promoted on his shown, may actually be fake.
Dr Oz welcomed Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who explained that food fraud can be a lot of things, and one example of it is when you order fish at a restaurant thinking you’re getting one type of fish when you’re actually getting another. It could also be an ingredient that’s added to your food to make it heavier or to fool a test.
Caroline explained that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a responsibility for ensuring the safety of about 80% of the food imported to the U.S., which can include anything from seafood to spices. The FDA doesn’t have the staff to do the job, according to Caroline, who said the FDA is currently inspecting less than 2% of imported foods.
Dr Oz: Are You Buying Fake Shrimp?
Dr Oz then shared what specific foods he’s most concerned about in terms of fraud, starting with shrimp. He shared that a lot of shrimp in the grocery store is labeled as “wild” when that’s not actually the case. Dr Kimberly Warner, a senior scientist for Oceana, explained that despite shrimp being our most favorite seafood in the U.S., just about no one was looking into what we were actually getting when we purchased shrimp.
She explained that Oceana sampled shrimp in groceries and restaurants across the U.S. and found that 30% of the shrimp were misrepresented. Often, a consumer will think they’re getting wild shrimp when they’re actually getting farmed shrimp that is imported from various countries. Many consumers are also fooled into buying different species than what they think.
Kimberly also shared that inside a bag of frozen shrimp, there can be many different species of shrimp.
According to Food & Water Watch, “imported shrimp accounts for 26% to 35% of all shipments of imported seafood that get rejected due to filth.”
Dr Oz: Wild Vs Farmed Shrimp
Dr Oz wanted to know if his viewers could spot which shrimp was wild and which are the counterfeit ones. He welcomed one woman who chose the grey-ish looking shrimp thinking it was the wild shrimp. She was wrong, because the pink shrimp were actually the wild ones. Kimberly said we need better labeling “from boat to plate” to clear up all the confusion.
Dr Oz explained that farmed shrimp imported from other countries often contains such a high dose of antibiotics that it’s been banned in the U.S. It was also found that the farmed shrimp contains a coating of chemicals used to clean the tanks. Dr Oz also explained that the pink color of the shrimp comes from a natural antioxidant that our body really wants, and often times farmed shrimp will have a fake pink color added to it.
Kimberly said to always ask questions about the seafood before you buy it to know if it was farmed or wild.
Dr Oz: Fake Greek Yogurt?
The next counterfeit food Dr Oz wanted to look at was Greek yogurt. Caroline explained that it’s a consumer fraud problem because Greek yogurt goes through a special process when it’s made where they actually filter the yogurt so it has the thick, custardy consistency. With Greek-style yogurt, they’re adding starches and tapioca to thicken the yogurt to fool consumers.
Dr Oz said he always talks about Greek yogurt because it’s high in protein and relatively low in sugar. That’s why it’s shocking to hear about the additives that are going in the yogurt. Caroline said the FDA isn’t doing much about it because their definition of yogurt is about 30 years old.
Dr Oz: Greek Yogurt Vs Greek-Style Yogurt
Greek yogurt has to be made from milk and bacterial culture, so if there’s a lot of added ingredients, it’s probably not Greek yogurt. Just know that Greek-style yogurt is not the same as true Greek yogurt.
Dr Oz: Lead In Turmeric
Finally, Dr Oz looked at turmeric and Caroline explained that it’s a spice produced in other countries. But the countries don’t always have the same level of control at the point of production and throughout the chain until it gets to the U.S. She explained that spices have come in with high levels of salmonella or insect parts. Turmeric especially has been found to contain lead, which can be a major concern.
Some possible health effects of consuming lead include memory loss, abdominal pain, and developmental problems in children. Caroline said you want to buy from a trusted source and make sure the color is a bright yellow. You can also always buy the root and grind it yourself.
Dr Oz: FDA Food Fraud Statement
Dr Oz reached out to the FDA, who said, “Food sold in the U.S. is required to be safe, sanitary, and properly labeled… Combating food fraud is the responsibility of both industry and regulatory authorities.”
Dr Oz said we shouldn’t reward the bad guys by buying their food.