Getting your hands on the good stuff may be harder than you think. Particularly if by good stuff you mean some authentic Vermont Maple Syrup.
A Rhode Island man was sentenced to two years of probation Wednesday for selling a sugary mixture and marketing it as Vermont maple syrup, the Boston Globe reports (h/t the Consumerist). Bernard Coleman, unbeknownst to consumers, had been selling his phony concoction on the Internet. Then one buyer recognized the mixture as a fake and reported it to the Vermont Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection.
The possibility of pouring the wrong thing on a short stack may seem like a trivial concern, but making and selling counterfeit food items, otherwise known as “food adulteration,” is actually a pretty big problem. Officials recently created a national database in an attempt to track down the items, which range from fake olive oil to phony expensive wine, according to Cleveland local news station 19 Action News.
One of the most commonly counterfeited items: Kobe beef. Though some of America’s ritziest steakhouses and restaurants claim to have Kobe burgers, steaks and even ravioli on the menu, it’s impossible to get authentic Kobe beef in this country, according to Forbes. That’s because for a steak to technically be made of Kobe beef, it has to come from a cow that was raised in Japan’s Hyogo prefecture — the USDA didn’t approve any slaughterhouses in that region for export.
In one high-profile counterfeit case, alleged wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan produced millions of dollars of phony Burgundies, perhaps altering the fine wine market indefinitely, Vanity Fair reports. FBI agents arrested Kurniawan earlier this year. And in China, two couples were sentenced to months behind bars for selling fake chicken stock, according to the Global Times. The team allegedly made 1.8 tons of the phony product.
Here in the U.S., some companies have special procedures to sniff out fake foods. Dunkin’ Donuts even has a CSI-style lab where it takes suspected fake donuts sold at franchises to make sure they’re not a cheaper, Dunkin’ alternative, according to ABC News.