food frauds

maybe politicians and the super rich are so worried about poor people cheating the system to survive because they think we’re like them and want more money than we could possibly spend … at the tax payers expense, which is exactly what they do for themselves. They’re worried we cheat the system for money to live on because they cheat the system for billions to sit on.

In case you’re having a bad Father’s Day (or even if you aren’t), here are some headcanons about David Wymack on Father’s Day that will hopefully make you feel better:

  • it’s habit for him to wake up early from so many years of morning practice, but today when he drags himself out of bed Abby’s already up making eggs
  • he wanders into the kitchen, puts the coffee on, and gets out some plates, and then he and Abby just sit at the table, enjoying each other’s company in the quiet light
  • at first he doesn’t even remember it’s Father’s Day; it’s not like he ever had any reason to celebrate it with his own father
  • but around 9am they hear the doorbell ring and Kevin walks in with Thea, Amalia, and his other two children
  • Kevin hugs his father and it’s slightly less awkward than every other time they’ve hugged
  • (just like last time was slightly less awkward than every time before it)
  • Kevin and Abby hug and Abby almost refuses to let him go
  • they spend the morning sitting together at the coffee table in comfortable conversation, talking about the Exy finals and all the new Foxes Wymack has signed
  • there’s four cards on the table, three with drawings in crayon and big, blocky letters, and one classy, understated store-bought card 
  • (which Kevin will never admit he spent five hours looking for and which both Kevin and Wymack will secretly treasure for months)
  • Thea’s outside in the back garden with Abby and the kids, playing around with a bunch of carefully planted petunias, when the doorbell rings again with Dan and Matt

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I know I’ve posted numerous times about how welfare fraud is in fact very, very rare and welfare programs have lower fraud loss rates than things like businesses.  Which is true, but it’s also true that most actual technical welfare fraud doesn’t look much like the stereotype either.  Pretty much the only people who “get rich” off fraud are service end things like stores, hospitals, etc.  Nobody else really gets rich from lying on their food stamp paperwork.

Welfare fraud looks less like “cadillac and mansion” and more like:

  • a disabled person lies about their level of mobility because medicaid will often only cover wheelchairs if you need them in the house, not if you need them to go out or do anything outside of the house
  • a poor woman claims her boyfriend lives separately from her because the amount he contributes to her and their kids counts against her less if it’s listed as childsupport instead of part of the household income and that small difference can be enough to keep the children from going hungry
  • a poor person sells part of their food stamps and lives on things like instant ramen because almost nobody gets cash assistance anymore and they need things like toilet paper or tooth paste
  • a disabled person who could not hold down a regular job sells $100 a month in homemade crafts and doesn’t report it because they might have to spend months or even years re-fighting their social security case if they reported it
  • a homeless person makes more than $20 a month begging but lists their income as zero because that’s less confusing
  • other things like that

A lot of that is just survival.  It’s not a system set up in a way that makes it easy to even live unless you “cheat”.  People aren’t doing it to get rich, they do it to cling to the very basics and just manage to live.  I don’t blame people who violate the laws to keep their heads above water, I blame the people who set up a horrific system like this and who benefit from harming and exploiting poor people.

So a couple weeks ago, I promised @copperbadge a review of the book I was currently reading, “Sorting the Beef from the Bull: The Science of Food Fraud Forensics.” And then my cat had a life threatening medical emergency (he’s okay!) and I got a little distracted. But, hey, better late than never, right?
First things first. I’m not a huge chemistry nerd. The word “science” is in the title for a reason. There’s a fair amount of it in here. I skimmed most of it. But there are two other aspects to the book that are fascinating and, honestly, rather terrifying. First, actual stories of food fraud throughout the world and history. Second, the non-immediate implications of it, looking at what it means for politics, economics, health, and the environment. It’s an extremely strong argument for the importance of regulations and, if you’re not terrified by the current push in the US government to deregulate, you will be. It’s a sadly timely book.

It starts out with an overview of the field, a couple anecdotes of food fraud (fake eggs in China, horse meat found in hamburger in UK grocery stores- one of the authors is British, so lots of examples from there), a breakdown of some of the scientific methods using the example of honey and why the whole issue is important.

Most people probably can think of the economic implications of things like olive oil being cut with cheaper oils. Consumers lose out on money, because we’re paying for a product based on the label, not what’s in it. Plus, it impacts honest sellers who have their market undercut by the cheaters. Raises some interesting questions on the idea that deregulation makes for a “freer” market place. 

The environmental implications are also concerning, and frankly, I may stop eating seafood. Turns out a lot of fish is mislabeled. Some of this can be chalked up to inconsistent naming conventions across countries, but given that fish are almost always mislabeled as more expensive varieties, that’s doubtful. But, important for those of us who try to eat responsibly, there have been cases of endangered species relabeled as allowable ones. Apparently, seafood laundering is a real thing. (A terrible thing, with a name that cracks me up). And good luck trying to be sure that your organic food is really organic. you may just be paying extra for the same stuff the rest of us are eating. 

But the scariest is the health implications. Olive oil is a good example in two cases. Mostly, you’re just overpaying, but it’s been adulterated with peanut oil in some cases. And then there’s the Toxic Oil Syndrome in Spain, where colza oil intended for industrial use was sold as “olive oil” in 1981 and killed over 600 people. Other horrifying examples include “monkfish” that turned out to be puffer fish (yikes!), fake baby formula in China, and chicken deemed not fit for human consumption that was washed up, trimmed of the ugly bits and then sold.

Some of it is not so horrifying from a health perspective, but more offends our sensibilities. The horse meat example, for instance, is not something that would hurt many people’s health. Heck, it’s probably lower in fat than beef. Ground meat was commonly found to contain other meat sources than the label said. All beef products, such as sausages, were found to contain chicken or pork, the later of which would certainly offend Jewish and Muslim consumers, but I’m fairly sure most religions don’t hold you responsible for something you are completely unaware of. A few have been found to contain rat, which certainly makes us go “ick” but unless it’s diseased, it probably won’t hurt us. 

The end result is a very strong argument of the importance of funded regulatory bodies, because the average consumer can’t determine this stuff for themself. Heck, the average chemist probably can’t figure out some of this stuff, because it’s ever evolving and our global food stream means there are too many points along the way where it takes one person looking to make a buck to screw people over, and people are really fucking creative at times. There are some amazing ways to catch issues, but a lot of people won’t want to pay for them, so only a portion of cases get caught. 

I was talking with a friend about the book and her response was “Wow, that’s important to know. Not sure I WANT to know.” True that.

  • me a disabled person on SSI and foodstamps: yes cool I got 10 dollars for my birthday, I can finally have a little extra spending cash to buy some much needed toiletries like deodorant and a toothbrush
  • DHS: UHM, ACTUALLY SWEATY
  • DHS: YOU HAVE TO REPORT THAT 10 DOLLARS TO US SO WE CAN SUBTRACT 10 DOLLARS FROM YOUR BENEFITS (:
  • DHS: IF YOU DON'T REPORT THIS 10 DOLLARS YOU ARE COMMITTING WELFARE FRAUD
  • DHS: I KNOW YOUR INCOME IS ONLY $4000 A YEAR ... BUT ... THAT 10 DOLLARS TRULY IS A LUXURY WE SHOULDN'T ALLOW YOU TO HAVE.

[image description: a screencap of a reply by @wickedprincess on my “I know I’ve posted numerous times…” post that reads “It did make me mad once when an acquaintance of mine used food stamps when she made hella money in tips for being a waitress and I couldn’t get food stamps because I was making just barely over the limit.  Or when I was denied food stamps even when my income was low enough because I had some money in a savings account, which I was saving to try to get into college”]

You should be mad, you have every right to be mad.  But it shouldn’t be at your acquaintance who was doing her best to get by (I seriously doubt that even if she underreported tips to qualify for food stamps she was getting enough to be rich off of it), be mad at the people who make the regulations that fucked you over.  Not being able to access programs you need because of the bureaucratic rules involved really sucks, and can cause a lot of pain and stress.  

The kind of ideas around “welfare fraud” stuff are absolutely used to justify harsh restrictions and cuts, so that less people can get social programs and so that they’re more policed when they do.  

Be pissed off about that.  I’m pissed off.  Just make sure to point that rage at the politicians who make the rules, the rich people whose views hold sway, the rightwing idealogy that is used as justification, etc, and not at other poor people, many of whom would be happy to see you get benefits and who, if they had the power, would probably give them to you.

Book Review: Sorting the Beef from the Bull by Richard Evershed and Nicola Temple

Taking a little break from Tracy Chevalier (we’ll be back to her soon)…

So, @terrie01 recommended this book to me during a discussion on food fraud, and it’s been a really…interesting experience. On the one hand it’s a very informative book, packed full of detail and data, but on the other oh man is it dry. I didn’t realize what a struggle it was to get through until I started reading Extra Virginity this morning, which is about the same general topic (focused on olive oil) but is much more engagingly written.

Sorting the Beef From The Bull focuses on food fraud from a legislative and economic angle; I can imagine for people working in the industry it’s a little more accessible, and I don’t think it’s a badly written book. It’s just jammed with a combination of dense law and complex biochemistry, when what I (a non-lawyer, non-scientist) wanted was like…war stories about food fraud. And there were some of those! But they got a little buried. 

Keep reading

OITNB Character Back Stories
  • Galina "Red" Reznikov: While we do not know what exactly got Red in prison, we do know she was involved with the Russian mafia.
  • Poussey Washington: Poussey was arrested for selling marijuana.
  • Yvonne "Vee" Parker: Vee was arrested for running a drug ring as well as hiring someone to murder someone in the ring who ran a side business secretly.
  • Lorna Morello: She was arrested for stalking and attempted murder.
  • Gina Murphy: While it is unclear why she was arrested, one can assume that embezzlement and murder play a part.
  • Gloria Mendoza: She was arrested for food-stamp fraud.
  • Yoga Jones: She is in jail for murdering a child; she claimed she mistook the child for a deer while hunting.
  • Brooke Soso: She was arrested for "illegal political activism."
  • Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren: We do not know much of her backstory or why exactly she was arrested.
  • Nicky Nichols: While the reason for arrest is not obvious, we do know Nicky was a former drug addict.
  • Piper Chapman: She was arrested for smuggling drug money.
  • Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett: She was arrested for shooting an abortion clinic worker after the worker made a remark about Pennsatucky's fifth abortion.
  • Dayanara "Daya" Diaz: Her exact crime is unknown.
  • Sophia Burset: She was arrested for credit card fraud (she stole the credit card information because sex change surgery was too expensive) and her son turned her in because he was not accepting of her transgender identity.
  • Alex Vause: She was arrested for being a drug smuggler in a cartel.
  • Aleida Diaz: She was involved in a drug operation.
  • Miss Claudette Pelage: She was imprisoned for beating a man to death.
  • Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson: Taystee was involved in the drug ring ran by Vee and was arrested for dealing drugs.
  • "Black" Cindy Hayes: She was an airport security guard, and often stole from travelers.
  • Miss Rosa Cisneros: She was arrested for being a bank robber.
  • Sister Ingalls: She was arrested after handcuffing herself to a flagpole at a nuclear test site.
  • Carrie "Big Boo" Black: She was arrested for running a gambling ring as well as theft or fraud.
  • Marisol Gonzalez: She was arrested for fraud and endangerment after selling fake drugs.
  • Janae Watson: She was arrested for armed robbery.
  • Leanne Taylor: Leanne was arrested for drug possession.
  • Gina Murphy: Gina was arrested for embezzlement.
  • Angie Rice: While the cause of arrest is unknown, it is likely to be drug-related.
  • Anita DeMarco: Her offense is unknown.

sailorzeo  replied to your post“Book Review: Sorting the Beef from the Bull by Richard Evershed and…”

Pork posing/sold as beef could be a big problem for those who don’t eat pork for religious reasons.

Oh for sure! And the book points out repeatedly that even if you take “I’m being ripped off” out of the equation, and even if the chemicals involved aren’t poisonous in general (as with the infant formula scandal in China), there are still major issues with religious dietary restrictions, not to mention allergies. Meat labeled as Halal when it’s not, just because the counterfeit labels happened to say Halal; pork masquerading as beef, or beef serum used as a plumping agent in chicken; peanuts showing up in food that should be peanut free. It’s absolutely not in question that that’s a serious issue and a major part of why food fraud is so heinous. 

But the pork-as-beef thing is an example of the issue I had with the book, where obviously it’s bad to do it as fraud, but…we don’t get any other data. There’s no discussion of whether this is ever done openly/legally, or whether the chemicals used to turn the pork into “beef” are health hazards in themselves, which is kind of vital to know, because then everyone’s getting poisoned, whether or not they have dietary restrictions. 

It’s not that the book is superficial, but it’s that where the detail shows up is in the legal/chemical side of things, whereas where I want it to show up is in the qualitative, human, narrative side. 

Your Tuna Is A Tilapia: The Fight Against Food Fraud Heats Up

by Michael Keller

The meal on your dinner plate might be trying to pull a fast one on you. If recent events around the world are any indicator, that red snapper might be tilapia (U.S.) or that beef burger might have a touch of horse (Europe). Don’t think your glass would ever lie to you, either? Care for a bit of the fire retardant melamine in your milk (China)? Or perhaps some cheap Italian plonk instead of that exorbitantly expensive Burgundy you think you’re drinking (U.S.)?

A globalized food supply chain and a desire by consumers to see things like strawberries on grocery shelves all year round have exploded the opportunities for fraudsters to make a buck.

“It’s easy to detect fraud in the food chain when you know what you’re looking for,” says Franz Ulberth, an analytical chemist with the European Commission’s Joint Research Center who works on the forensics of detecting food fraud. “No one thought anyone would put melamine in milk powder, so they weren’t looking for it.”

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In 37 states, error rates fell between fiscal year 2008 (the recession officially began in December 2007) through fiscal year 2013, according to a Stateline analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.

During the downturn, many Republican lawmakers argued that billions could be saved by cutting waste, fraud and abuse in the program. A GOP-backed bill in Congress last year promised $30 billion in such savings, but the declining error rates cast doubt on that claim.

“The fact is that there are so many different levels on which the program is performing very strongly right now,” said Dottie Rosenbaum of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “It’s performing the way it was designed to.”

— 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/04/food-stamp-program_n_5766114.html

The “food stamp fraud epidemic” is  lie entitled rich people made up to excuse their attempts to starve poor people.