Faking food products not only harms the economy; it can also be dangerous to your health.
What exactly is food counterfeiting – or “food piracy”?
The term applies to fraudulently producing certain types of foods and brands.
It’s “food quality fraud” and it consists in the non-natural production or modification of food by using various substandard ingredients or distorting the proportion used in the genuine article. Bogus or inferior ingredients can be used to produce the fake variety.
Other practices include counterfeiting well-known brands or falsifying the indication of geographical origin. This can be done to the food itself or by using fake packaging. The term “food origin fraud” is often used and can include the illegal reproduction of the food’s unique certification, which should show how and where it is produced.
Food piracy is not only harmful to the consumer; it is also extremely damaging for business. According to the Italian Association for Consumer Protection, faking regional Italian dishes costs our country the equivalent of up to 60 billion euros per year.
Information about the origin of food products is, however, complicated by the European directive that “exempts” producers from the obligation to show the actual location of where food is produced. Steps to remedy this are being taken by various trade associations, but the outcome remains uncertain.
The most viable route for the self-protection of consumers is to change the present culture, backed up by making more information available and raising awareness of the risks associated with purchasing counterfeit food products.