Though food fraud is rampant, actual prosecutions are not.
Shade-grown coffee. Pastured chicken. Organic milk. What do these foodstuffs share in common? Each one comes with an elevated origin story, helping to fetch a higher price at the grocery store. Perhaps more importantly, these items require a degree of consumer confidence that their backstories are legitimate. As such, they are susceptible to fraud.
“Any time there’s a claim of a certain pedigree, an origin that the consumer is not equipped to verify independently, the market is ripe for fraud,” says Doug Moyer, PhD, a professor of public health at Michigan State University, and a researcher at MSU’s Food Fraud Institute.
Case in point: Last Friday, as part of an ongoing federal investigation, the perpetrator of the largest case of organic fraud in United States history was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.