Earlier this year, Pennsylvania-based Castle Cheese Inc. made headlines when the FDA determined that the company's "100 percent Parmesan cheese" included fillers like wood pulp, cellulose, and cheddar — but no actual Parmesan. That's one rather egregious example of food fraud, when food is labeled as something it's not.
There's a lot of fraud in food. In fact, it's a billion dollar industry. But many have dedicated their lives to stopping it, like Professor Chris Elliot and his colleagues at Queens University in Northern Ireland. The latest video from Great Big Story offers a closer look at the team of researchers working to keep the industry honest.
Remember IKEA's horse meat meatballs? Elliot led the team that discovered that.
"We like to think of ourselves as the food detectives," he says in the video, who adds that fraud is more prevalent in the food chain that many would think. Twenty five percent of all oregano sold in the U.S., he says, is fraudulent in some way. Fish is also often mislabeled as "entirely different species." Even coconut isn't immune to fraud.
So what it does take to fight food fraud? Unsurprisingly, a lab full of cool gadgets.
• These Detectives Fight Food Fraud [Great Big Story, YouTube]