There's nothing like a fresh bowl of pasta topped with wood shavings, emitting the mouthwatering aroma of petroleum product, and paired with warm, crusty bread that's been dipped in artificially colored soybean oil.
If that doesn't sound appetizing, then too bad, because you might have already had that meal.
With the recent discovery that wood pulp was being used as filler in grated Parmesan cheese, you might be wondering what else you're inadvertently eating.
Here's a list of 13 foods that are often mislabeled, misnamed, or simply misunderstood, from extra-virgin olive oil to white chocolate.
Grated parmesan cheese
Cellulose, made from wood pulp, is a safe food additive when used as an anti-clumping agent, acceptable at levels of 2% to 4%. However, Bloomberg News recently found that multiple brands of "100% Grated Parmesan Cheese" had as much as 7.8% and 8.8% cellulose, with one expert estimating that 20% of U.S.-produced grated Parmesan cheese is mislabeled.
In addition to cellulose, grated Parmesan is sometimes also mixed with cheaper cheeses like Swiss, mozzarella, and cheddar.
Breakfast syrup and maple products
What many of us think of as "maple syrup" is not the real deal. Brands like Mrs. Butterworth's, Aunt Jemima, and Log Cabin avoid the word "maple" in their official names, though Log Cabin's "all-natural" syrup upset maple syrup producers, who said the packaging was designed to deceive consumers into thinking they were buying the real thing.
More recently, this past February maple industry groups sent a letter to the FDA, protesting foods labeled as maple without listing maple in the ingredients, like Quaker Oats Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Thanks to Italy's "Agromafia," you might own an overpriced bottle of sunflower oil, with a label promising extra-virgin olive oil.
What you don't know about the often-shady olive oil industry could fill a book. Specifically, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil. It's a 2011 look into the history and modern production of olive oil by Tom Mueller, who also covered the "Slippery Business" in an exposé in The New Yorker.
The truth is, there's often nothing virgin about most of the "extra-virgin" olive oil sold in the U.S., and fraudulent oil, 50% by some estimates, is often vegetable oils and artificial coloring. Four out of 10 bottles that claim to be Italian olive oil are just packed or transported through Italy, and are not made from Italian olives.
Recently, an Italian criminal investigation was launched against seven of the country's top olive oil companies after tests revealed nine out of every 20 bottles were fraudulent. They were accused of importing canola and soybean oil to mix into their olive oil sold as extra-virgin.