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Common Fake Food Products & How To Identify Them

It’s easy to spot a fake Gucci bag, but identifying fake food? That takes time.

The food and beverage industry is rife with counterfeit products that are not only harming businesses but also putting the health of consumers at risk. Scammers are setting reputed F&B brands back by billions of dollars by flooding the market with counterfeits. Of late, many food safety professionals have reviewed and stressed on the seriousness of this subject at various healthcare conferences in the USA.

If you are someone who is wondering which food products are likely to be fake, then this blog is for you. Read on:

Olive Oil

Experts have projected that almost 70% of EVOO in the market is fake. Sadly, scammers use a wide variety of tactics to promote low-quality products as extra virgin olive oil, given its staggering demand worldwide. It is mostly adulterated for economic gains with inferior quality liquids, such as cheap sunflower or soybean oil.

To ensure that you don’t land yourself a fake, review the label on the bottle. Does it simply say that it was bottled in Italy? There is a high chance that a scammer is behind it all because ‘bottled’ may not really mean that the product was manufactured in Italy.

On the other hand, reputed, authentic brands proudly claim their Italian origins by clearly mentioning that the product was either harvested or made in the country. Also, check for additional information such as harvest dates, as well as mentions of the region of origin. Once you find an authentic brand, stick to it!

Parmesan Cheese

A study of the quality of Parmesan cheese in the market by Bloomberg news in 2016 revealed that it contained wood pulp. While it is added to cheese to prevent the problem of starching, it has been noted that several companies tend to add more of it to lower the cost of producing Parmesan cheese as well as to offer competitive prices.

To ensure that you always bring home pure Parmesan cheese sans the wood pulp, check the label carefully. Does it say “Parmigiano-Reggiano?” Is it from Italy? You are good to go.


There is a high chance that the bottle of honey on your table may not be the real deal! There have been instances wherein honey has been found to be adulterated with low-quality ingredients such as corn syrup. In India alone, studies by the Centre for Science and Environment revealed signs of adulteration in honey bottles of 10 of the biggest brands in 2020.

To differentiate between fraudulent products and authentic ones, ensure that the ingredients list says only, ‘honey.’ If it mentions things like sugar syrup, ditch the product altogether.


What steps are safety professionals and major food labels taking to combat the problem of scams and fraud in the industry? Can we tap into new tech to fight this menace? For answers, make sure that you participate in one of the most awaited food and beverage conferences — the Food 2.0 Conference!


Tanvi Nigam is a food enthusiast who can be found at the trendiest restaurants on weekends! She is currently working with the Food 2.0 Conference which will focus on the latest trends in food & beverages, manufacturing tools and techniques, how to avoid scams and fraud in the F&B industry, and much, much more.