We often don’t think twice about buying groceries in the store, but despite Canada’s strict regulations we can still fall victim to food fraud. This is when a product is misrepresented, like when something is advertised as sodium free but doesn’t meet the threshold, or sugar syrup is added to a jar of honey labelled as pure honey.
The next time you go shopping, keep some of these tips in mind so you can have peace of mind that you’re feeding your family exactly what you want to be.
1. Know what to look for on the label.
Canada has specific requirements for food labels. Food products that are intentionally or unintentionally mislabelled, can mislead consumers about the character and quality of the food they’re buying. It can even be dangerous if, for example, food allergens are found in food that aren’t listed on the label. Learning how to understand a food label through resources like the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website can help you become an informed consumer the next time you go shopping.
2. Know what foods are in season.
One way to spot potential food fraud is by knowing when different produce items are in season and should be available. For example, seeing pineapples labelled as “Product of Canada” would be a red flag since we don’t have the climate to grow this type of food here. Knowing when you should be able to find foods from different regions the next time you’re in the produce section can help you know when something might not be what it seems.
3. Know how much things normally cost.
Food fraud can also happen when producers try to sell an inferior or adulterated product while making it seem like a higher-quality counterpart. Comparing prices with trusted brands and being aware of average prices for products can help ensure you’re getting what you expect in the food you buy. Should you, for example, find a bottle of honey at half the price of the others, it might be diluted with other sugars even if the label says it’s pure. Often, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.