When it comes to food, what you see isn’t always what you get. In an effort to cut costs, human beings have resorted to creative ways to add cheap fillers to foods. This is so expertly done, that most of us don’t even realize the food we’re eating is far from pure. Eating adulterated food can compromise on taste at best and harm you at worst. If you’re wondering how many foods in your pantry might potentially be adulterated, here are the seven most common ones.
1. Olive Oil
Olive oil tends to be more expensive than other oils, so you’ve probably spent a pretty buck on a bottle of it. Manufacturing olive oil is just as expensive, so brands try to increase profit margins by mixing olive oil with cheaper oils. The most common adulterants found in olive oil are palm oil and soybean oil. You can check if your oil is adulterated by placing it in the fridge. If it’s pure olive oil, then you will see sediment form. Be wary of cheap olive oil because it’s almost certainly adulterated.
Milk is often touted as one of the healthiest foods, but the milk you’re drinking might not be. The most common adulterant used for milk is water. Water is cheap and is almost always added to milk. It can significantly reduce the nutrition profile of milk and because clean water is rarely used, it could cause serious contamination. However, water can thin out milk, making it obvious that it has been adulterated. To counter this, some brands add buffalo milk, detergents and even urea to increase the volume of milk.
Many people use honey as an alternative to refined sugar, but this switch isn’t as healthy as they might think. A large percentage of honey on the market today has been mixed with high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is extremely cheap, but has serious health consequences. It can make your sugar levels chronically high and put you at a higher risk for obesity and diabetes. If the label on your jar of honey says it needs to be refrigerated, then it’s most probably been mixed with corn syrup.
4. Apple Juice
High fructose corn syrup once again makes an appearance in apple juice. Corn syrup makes apple juice sweeter and acts as a cheap filler. It’s most commonly used in brands that are sold in bulk for cheap. If the price for a gallon of apple juice sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Apart from high fructose corn syrup, apple juice is also often adulterated with synthetic flavorings and contaminated water.
Your morning cup of coffee might be a mix of coffee, chicory, soybeans, roasted barley and sometimes even colored sawdust. While these ingredients don’t change the appearance of coffee, they definitely take away from the taste. Pure coffee is rich and aromatic while cheap, adulterated coffee is completely different. The best way to avoid adulterated coffee is to grind your own coffee using whole coffee beans.
Saffron is one of the most expensive ingredients in the world and very difficult to procure. Even many expensive brands of saffron (and let’s be honest, they’re all expensive), contain some amount of adulterants. Gelatin, food coloring and sandalwood dust are all added to saffron to increase its bulk in an economic way. To avoid this, look for brands of saffron that have been imported from Asia. And while it may not be good news for your wallet, the more expensive a brand of saffron is, the less likely it is to have been adulterated.
7. Parmesan Cheese
No dish of pasta is complete without Parmesan shavings on top, but it might not always be just Parmesan. Parmesan is an expensive cheese and many times, it’s mixed with cheaper cheese to bring down manufacturing costs. In some cases, wood shavings are also mixed in with Parmesan in an attempt to increase profits.