When you select a pre-made sandwich or buy a bottle of sauce or a package of nuts do you know what you are really buying?


I have been accused of making consumer’s paranoid with my Seventh Edition of A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives (Three Rivers/ Crown). I have listed chemicals made from known cancer-causing and brain toxic substances. Most of the thousands of other chemicals are added safely as preservatives and flavorings but who is watching the ones that are not? The FDA now allows the manufacturers themselves to self-affirm their additives as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe).


The legitimate food producers do everything they can to protect their consumers’ faithfulness and safety. Kraft Foods was recently praised by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for showing how the country’s food safety systems should work, after it discovered a salmonella outbreak in pistachios processed by one of its suppliers. The discovery, which was uncovered during what the company called routine third party testing that it was not legally required to undertake, led central-California-based processor Setton Farms to voluntarily recall its 2008 pistachio crop due to an unrelated salmonella contamination.


“This recall was not triggered because of an outbreak, in contrast to the peanut butter,” FDA associate commissioner for foods David Acheson told reporters.


The Grocery Manufacturing Association has suggested requiring all food manufacturers to adopt and update food safety plans so that they can be made available to the FDA.


To step up traceability, the GMA also suggested mandatory documentation by importers on the steps being used to police foreign suppliers, while also granting the FDA mandatory recall authority. Can you believe such protection does not exist in the US?


To back this increased scrutiny, the GMA said it also believed US Congress should increase the spending budget of the FDA to at least $900 million as part of attempts to ‘rebuild’ its scientific capacity.


While our guardian agencies, such as the FDA, are underfunded and overwhelmed, the British guardians are doing a better job.  A recently established food fraud division will support local authorities to take swift action to stop illegal activity as well as helping them uncover cases where the consumer has been misled, under the aegis of the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA).The FSA defines food fraud as being committed when “food is deliberately placed on the market, for financial gain, with the intention of deceiving the consumer”.


This may take the form of selling products unfit for human consumption, such as those of unknown origin or which are past their sell-by-date; or misrepresenting food in some way, for example by substituting cheaper alternatives or making misleading statements about its source.


It is estimated the fraudulent food market in the UK is worth seven billion pounds a year—accounting for around 10 percent of the entire market. The FSA, for example, found sandwiches that did not contain cheese, but a non-dairy substitute “cheese analogue” which costs about half the wholesale price of real cheese. They also found “organic food” that was not really organic and Basmati Rice mixed with unrevealed less expensive rice.


Market researchers have found that that Americans have less and less confidence in supermarket safety, primarily in foods that need a lot of handling such as packaged sandwiches and rotisserie chicken.


I bought a package of store brand flour last year that was loaded with chlorine. The store apologized and gave me a coupon for another package of flour but I haven’t bought the store brand since. Have you experienced supermarket problems? Do you support paying more taxes to make a stronger FDA?