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Research: 10% Of All Food Mislabeled, Diluted, Or Misrepresented

NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Are you getting what you pay for at the grocery store? The National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD) says nearly 10-percent of all food is mislabeled, diluted, or misrepresented.

"We have lost control of the supply chain," said Dr. Amy Kircher with the NCFPD.

Among the foods researchers said are most commonly misrepresented are spices, oils, and liquids.

Kircher said the center found spices, such as nutmeg, are often filled with heavier and cheaper substitutes that aren't included on the label.

Olive oil has been found to contain cheaper oils. Some oils found by the center were not even food grade oils.

Kircher said customers should be wary of oils labeled "extra virgin" that are dramatically cheaper than other products also claiming to be extra virgin oil. Studies also found lemon juice, labeled as 100% juice, is often diluted with water.

When it comes to fish, Kircher said at times cheaper species are passed off as more expensive species. What's labeled as tuna, researchers at the center found on several occasions to actually be escolar, a cheaper similar looking fish.

"Escolar is just naturally a product that causes gastrointestinal problems in people," said Kircher. "So when you substitute it there is a public health risk."

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"Anything produced and shipped in bulk is something we are always careful with," said Kircher. "Those things that have a high dollar value sometimes are at a higher risk for food fraud."

As someone who reads the label before buying any food product at the store, Jackie Wohlgemuth of Dallas said, "It's very frustrating that they don't tell the public what is in their products. It's very frustrating."

The National Center for Food Protection and Defense said its research is proof labeling standards need to be increased.

The center estimates food fraud costs consumers between $10 and $15 billion a year.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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