The simplest definition of an adulteration in food means something in it has been replaced with a cheaper filler which may or may not be bad for us, but which certainly is not worth the price we’re paying for what we think is contained within the product. Papers were advising of the adulteration of foods by the mid-1700’s, and by 1820 Fredrick Accum penned a full volume on the adulterations of food. – “A Treatise on Adulterations of Food, and Culinary Poisons”. 1820. London.

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The following are just a few products which may be in your pantry that aren’t what they seem.

1. Ground red pepper is often used to flavor ginger snaps. Stauffer’s ginger snaps, and probably many others, especially cheaper brands, use ground red pepper to boost the hot spiciness of their ginger snaps. The pepper is less expensive so profits are boosted for the companies that use it. Stauffer’s is honest enough to put it on the label instead of hiding it under the ubiquitous, “natural flavor”. Archway’s “spices” could be anything.

2. Wasabi is difficult to grow and expensive plus because it is not oil-based, its flavor begins to diminish as soon as it is prepared unlike chili peppers. Except for that sold in specialty grocery stores and very high-end restaurants, Wasabi sold in the U.S. is actually a mixture of horseradish, mustard, green food coloring and probably starch. Remember that and read the ingredients when comparing prices of various brands. The same goes for products such as Wasabi peas or Wasabi sauce – if horseradish is listed in the ingredients, there is little to no actual wasabi in the product.

“Sushi sonic 100% real powdered wasabi, 1.5 ounce jar a source of authentic powdered wasabi (Wasabia japonica), and blended with horseradish and mustard for Sushi Sonic 46% Real Wasabi Powder, giving sushi lovers the chance to experience genuine wasabi flavor and health benefits while still having that eye-wateringly pungent taste and aroma they expect in their favorite condiment. Traditionally used as a condiment with sushi, wasabi is also a lively addition to sauces and dressings. To prepare, mix a sufficient amount of lukewarm water with a small quantity of wasabi powder to form a smooth, thick paste. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.” On Amazon.com this product sells for $7.95 or $5.30 per oz.

Roland Wasabi paste in the tube contains no actual wasabi according to the ingredients list on the product, “horseradish and soybean oil”, and while it isn’t listed in the ingredients, it obviously has green coloring. It averages $1.41 per oz. Compare that with S&B brand on which the ingredients are listed as “horseradish, lactose (milk), rice bran oil, sorbitol, salt, water, natural flavor, turmeric, xanthan gum, citric acid, artificial color (FD & C Yellow #5, FD & C Blue #1)”. It still contains no actual wasabi, and look at all those “nice” artificial colors and mysterious ingredients lumped under “natural flavor”.

3. Orange juice listed as “all natural 100% juice” is actually flavored with a product extracted from oils and orange essence. You may ask why bottlers need to flavor natural orange juice with orange oils. Large vats of freshly squeezed orange juice are stored for up to a year after removing the oxygen from the container and removing the oxygen removes the flavor along with it. According to Alyssa Hamilton, researcher and writer, the same folks who develop fragrances for perfume companies develop the flavor packets that go back into the juice to flavor it before it is packaged and shipped to markets. Yum. If you’ve ever considered why your family may favor one brand over another when it’s all supposed to be 100% juice it is because the flavor packets differ from one manufacturer to another, some sweeter, others more tart. Want real orange juice as Mother Nature made it? Squeeze your own.

4. Do you purchase some of the more expensive varieties of juice such as mango, passion fruit, or Trop50’s Pomegranate Blueberry juice? Save your money, there is more apple juice in many of these products than the more expensive fruits. Why? It’s simple – apple juice is cheap filler and the label can still read, “100% juice”. The bulk of juices on the market contain apple juice. The Illinois State Food Commissioner wrote in 1908, “Apple juice is the cheapest of the fruit juices used in the manufacture of jellies and jams”, and the same goes for juice.

Grape juice and pear juice are sometimes added to more exotic and more expensive fruits as fillers and still meet the criteria for 100% juice. While grape, apple, or pear juices aren’t necessarily harmful they could be for someone allergic to apples, grapes, or pears. More importantly why would you pay more for an exotic juice that is still largely apple?

“OCEAN SPRAY, 100% CRANBERRY JUICE, NO SUGAR ADDED, Ingredients: Filtered Water, Grape Juice Concentrate and Cranberry Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).” Because grape juice is listed in the ingredients before cranberry juice, the larger part of the product is grape despite the name on the bottle.
Did you know that Tropicana whose juice is billed as a healthy natural beverage, is owned by the soft drink giant and sugar-peddler, PepsiCo? They don’t own, but partnership with, Dole and so have their finger in the pot, so to speak, for Dole brand fruit juice as well.

“DOLE, MANGO LIME FIESTA, Ingredients: Filtered water, Apple Juice Concentrate, White Grape Juice Concentrate, Mango Juice Concentrate, Lime Juice Concentrate, Clarified Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavors and Ascorbid Acid (Vitamin C)”. On this label we see that apple and grape are the primary ingredients although it is sold as mango.

Perhaps the word “Fiesta” entitles Dole to substitute cheaper ingredients so let’s look at another of their products. “DOLE, JUICE, CHILLED PINEAPPLE ORANGE BANANA, Ingredients: Filtered Water, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Apple Juice Concentrate, Orange Juice Concentrate, Banana Puree, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and Natural Flavors. We still have a juice made up largely of apple juice in which apple is not included in the name.

Welch’s isn’t above misinforming shoppers about what is in their juice either. Their 100% Juice, white grape strawberry contains apple juice, as does their white grape peach. Read the labels!

Incidentally, in closing, PepsiCo shelled out $1,716,300. in opposing California Proposition 37 which would have mandated labeling on products containing genetically modified crops – think about all that high fructose sweetener in soft drinks and juice or fruit juice drinks the next time you purchase one of their products. Because of the added high fructose corn syrup, studies have shown that 80% of processed foods contain GMO’s.