(Roughly) Daily

Yet again, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is…

After winning a seat in the pantheon of so-called “super foods,” pomegranates got a burst of popularity, with consumers craving everything from fresh seeds to juices and teas. But its newfound fame also found it the victim of an age-old problem: food fraud. According to the non-profit organization U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) in Maryland, pomegranate juice was the most common case of food fraud in the past year, often watered down with grape or pear juice to cut costs.

The group operates the Food Fraud Database, which went live in April 2012 and recently added 800 new records. Other usual suspects from the scholarly articles, news accounts and other publicly available records include milk, honey, spices, tea and seafood.

Though senior director of food standards Markus Lipp says we enjoy a high level of food safety in the United States, he also warns, “The real risk of adulteration is that nobody knows what’s in the product.”

Consider, for example, olive oil…

Olive oil might have the distinction of being the oldest adulterated good. “Olive-oil fraud has been around for millenia,” according to the New Yorker. Cut with sunflower and hazelnut oils, olive oil was considered “the most adulterated agricultural in the European Union” by the late 1990s. Even after a special task force was formed, the problem remains. In his 2012 book, “Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil,” Tom Mueller writes about the ongoing fraud. Mueller tells the New Yorker, “In America, olive-oil adulteration, sometimes with cut-rate soybean and seed oils, is widespread, but olive oil is not tested for by the F.D.A.—F.D.A. officials tell me their resources are far too limited, and the list of responsibilities far too long, to police the olive-oil trade.”

Mora cautionary culinary notes at Smithsonian‘s “Don’t Get Duped: Six Foods That Might Not Be the Real Deal.”  Meantime, Happy Fat Tuesday!

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As we decide to just grow it ourselves, we might recall that it was on this date in 2004 that Mattel announced that Barbie (“Barbara Millicent Roberts”) and Ken (“Ken Sean Carson”), who had been dating since Ken’s appearance in 1961, had broken up.  In 1993, “Earring Magic Ken” had been released; it became an instant cult collectible (the best-selling Ken in Mattel’s history)– and apparently, planted a doubt in Barbie’s mind as to the authenticity of her boyfriend’s attraction to her.

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In explaining the split, Russell Arons, vice president of marketing at Mattel, said that Barbie and Ken “feel it’s time to spend some quality time – apart…Like other celebrity couples, their Hollywood romance has come to an end”… though Arons indicated that the duo would “remain friends.”  He also hinted at what Earring Magic Ken collectors had suspected for some time: that the separation might be partially due to Ken’s reluctance to get married.

In February 2006, after Ken had a “makeover,” the couple committed to rekindling their relationship.  They are ostensibly still a couple, though Ken’s re-do may have taken a bit too well:  in 2009, Mattel introduced “Sugar Daddy Ken.”

The couple, in happier days

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Written by LW

February 12, 2013 at 1:01 am

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