Counterfeit Foods

News and information about counterfeit food products and the sale of mislabeled foods. The data about various forms of food fraud and substandard foods are collected from public health officials, criminal justice reports and other public information sources.

According to research conducted by  Food Safety News, up to 75 percent of honey sold in stores are not really honey. The counterfeit bottles are sold without pollen.

Source: Kelli B. Grant, “Cheap Fakes: 10 Ordinary Items Now Counterfeited ,” Smart Money, November 30, 2011.

Roughly 3,000 tons of counterfeit  Emmentaler cheese is produced each year that is not made in Switzerland. The counterfeit trade in the cheese makes up to 10 percent of the legitimate market.

Most of the counterfeit cheese is found in Italy, according to the organization Emmentaler Switzerland.

Emmental cheese is also commonly known as Swiss Cheese.

Source: Catherine McLean Winterthur, “Love your Swiss cheese? Careful, it could be a knock-off,” Globe and Mail, May 3, 2011.

30 percent of the estimated 8,700 seed companies operating in China, or 2,610 companies, are believed to be involved in producing and selling counterfeit seeds to farmers.

Source: Zhou Siyu, “Sowing the seeds of doubt,” China Daily, August 3, 2011.


75 percent of all mineral water sold in Russia had fake labels on the bottles in 2004.

Source: Pira Internatioanl, “Fraudulent Food,” Hosted by International Chamber of Commerce, August 24, 2009.

Counterfeit foods around the world creates a $49 Billion a year industry, according to the World Customs Institute.

Source:  Jeneen Interland, “The Fake-Food Detectives,” Newsweek, February 7, 2010.

According to a report by KPMG, the following are losses due to counterfeit goods in the United Arab Emirates.

  • Counterfeit Food and Beverage: $9.5 Million
  • Counterfeit Cigarettes: $15.49 Million
  • Counterfeit Household Products: $3.4 Million
  • Counterfeit Auto Parts: $476.8 Million
  • Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Drugs: $1.3 Million
  • Counterfeit Cosmetics: $37.7 Million

Total losses to counterfeit goods based on these products: $544.1 Million.

Source: KPMG, “Economic Impact Study : Analyzing Counterfeit Products in the United Arab Emirates,” January 2008, page 10.

The European Union released its 2008 Counterfeit Goods Seizures numbers.

In all, 178 million counterfeit items were seized by Custom authorities in 2008, up from 79 million in 2007.

44 percent of all products seized were pirated CDs and DVDs.

23 percent were counterfeit cigarettes.

10 percent were replica clothing items.

54 percent of all counterfeit goods seized originated from China.  However, a majority of the fake food and drinks seized came from Indonesia, and most fake drugs came from India.


Counterfeit foods and fraudulent labels in the United Kingdom is estimated to be a $9 Billion (7 Billion British Pounds) market annually.

10 percent of the entire food market in the UK is estimated to be counterfeits.


According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the most popular counterfeit food products in the world were kiwis, preserved vegetables, powdered milk, butter, ghee, baby food, instant coffee, alcoholic drinks and corn seeds.


According to an official with the Food and Drug Administration, olive oil is one of the most counterfeited food product in the United States.

In the state of Connecticut, consumer protection officials seized bottles labelled as extra-virgin olive oil that contained 90 percent soybean oil, and tests in the state of California found that 60 to 70 percent of extra virgin olive oils tested contained lower quality oil.

The North America Olive Oil Association stated that most counterfeit olive oils and fraudulent use tends to occur in restaurants rather then bottling plants.