In today’s episode, we’re sipping back suds for sentimental reasons, digging in deep to find out why food fraud is such an issue, and focusing on the increased Russian regulations on food smuggling.
A Drink Down Memory Lane
With today’s increasing amount of health-conscious consumers, food companies are finding themselves having to jump hoops to keep their customers. For many manufacturers, this has meant cleaner ingredient labels.
But food giant General Mills is utilizing an entirely different approach as of late. There’s big business in nostalgia, as there seems to be no better way to reach consumers than by emotionally pulling on their heart strings. Re-discovering fond forgotten memories results in a powerful feeling, and General Mills is using this bond to build a sense of trust.
The food company just introduced two new product offerings — this time, in beer. The first of the company’s surprising news came earlier this week when General Mills announced its partnership with Minneapolis brewer Fulton Beer to launch a Wheaties-branded beer. And now, the food giant is teaming up with another craft brewer: Colorado’s Black Bottle Brewery. And for what better reason than to make a Count Chocula-flavored brew.
General Mills seems to know that when you mix Millennials, childhood memories, and craft beer it’s sure to be a big hit.
The Case of the Counterfeits
As if picking through ingredient labels isn’t tedious enough, consumers should be aware that nearly every ingredient on that list has the potential to be vulnerable to food fraud.
At the recent International Association for Food Protection’s annual meeting, professionals said they have seen a steep rise in the number of fraud cases involving deadly adulterants, as well as a large increase in fraudulent labeling and legal prosecution for food fraud.
But it’s not just in the U.S., as experts say food fraud is an epidemic in every single country where food is produced or grown. It affects everything from seafood to milk to spices and even food coloring. Just this June, more than 100,000 tons of smuggled, frozen, expired meat was seized in China from groups selling it for consumption. Another case out of China involved an undercover video showing fake rice being produced from plastic resin and sweet potatoes.
While this isn’t a new phenomenon, the rising number of high-profile food fraud cases in just the past year alone should make you weary of what foods you are purchasing.
Russia’s Focus on Food Smuggling
Earlier this month, the Russian government steamrolled tons of contraband Western cheese and fruit in a public display in support of its ban on food imports from the United States and the European Union.
Now, according to a report from The Associated Press, Russian customs officials want to make the smuggling of Western foods a criminal offense, with consequences as serious as those for dealing in the arms trade.
According to the AP report, Russia’s Federal Customs Service does not believe current penalties for food smuggling are harsh enough, and this week suggested in a draft bill that banned foreign foods be listed as “strategically important,” a designation that currently includes radioactive materials, poison, armaments and explosives.
If banned foreign foods are added to that classification, punishments for smuggling would include prison terms of up to seven years, according to the AP. A decision on the draft bill is expected in early September.