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200 × 120 × 13 mm
176 pages
13 Jan 2020
Food Controversies

Food Adulteration and Food Fraud Jonathan Rees

What do we really know about the food we eat? A firestorm of recent food-fraud cases – from the honey-laundering scandal in the USA, to the forty-year-old frozen ‘zombie’ meat smuggled into China, to horsemeat passed off as beef in the UK – suggests fraudulent and intentional acts of food adulteration are on the rise.

Jonathan Rees examines the complex causes and surprising effects of adulteration and fraud across the global food chain. Covering comestibles of all kinds from around the globe, Rees describes the different types of contamination, the role and effectiveness of government regulation and our willingness to ignore deception if the groceries we purchase are cheap or convenient. Pithy, punchy and cogent, Food Adulteration and Food Fraud offers an important insight into this vital problem with our consumption.

‘Rees' account of the journeys of some food to the shop encompasses horsemeat in the UK, honey-laundering in the US and 40-year-old zombie meat in China. It speaks of hidden crimes by large food processors and small-time criminals. Rees warns us against our willingness to ignore such deception if products are cheap enough.’ — New Scientist

‘Readers owe a debt of gratitude to Jonathan Rees for explaining the complexities and ongoing difficulties of adulterated food and fraudulent claims. The problems may be timeless, but, as this book shows, the responses are ever evolving, culturally dependent, and worth more attention.’ — Benjamin R. Cohen, author of Pure Adulteration: Cheating on Nature in the Age of Manufactured Food

‘The difficulty, as Rees clearly sets out, is that many food adulterations are welcomed by consumers if the price goes down. And, as long as the ingredients are fully listed, then it's not technically illegal. But where to draw the line? An academic historian, Rees brings a historical perspective to the subject. He points out that while global trade isn't new, supply chains have never been more complex and one way manufacturers tackle this growing distance from consumers is by creating fictional chef mascots to engender trust in processed products. Spoiler: Mr Kipling, Betty Crocker and Captain Birdseye never existed. Rees provides plentiful factoids in an admirably compact book.’ — Morning Star

‘This book is many things: a taxonomy of food fraud and adulteration around the world, a history of efforts to detect and eradicate it, and a lucid investigation of why it’s so tricky to define what counts as “fake food” in an age of food science and industrial production. As debates about GMOs, chemical additives, mislabeled “olive" oil, and dairy-free “milk" rage on, this timely volume is a valuable primer that cuts through the murk and rhetoric, and untangles the historical, cultural, and economic forces shaping how our food is made, regulated, and sold. Jonathan Rees has produced a necessary guide for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of the modern food system and the difficulties in policing it.’ — Nadia Berenstein, PhD, writer and historian

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Jonathan Rees is Professor of History at Colorado State University – Pueblo. His work on food history includes Refrigeration Nation (2013) and Before the Refrigerator (2018).

Introduction: A Matter of Trust

1 Partial Substitutions
2 Tainted Foods
3 Counterfeit Foods and Complete Substitutions
4 The Importance of Place
5 Testing
6 Policy, Strategy and Legislation

Conclusion: Adulteration and Culture

Notes on Sources and Select Bibliography