Viral video on how to test if your food is fake or real found to be 'mostly false'

You may have seen the viral video.

Branded as '16 easy tests' to find out if your food is fake or real, the three-minute clip aimed to enlighten viewers on DIY food safety hacks to try at home. Because apparently in the world we live in, all's not what it's made out to be.

The video, made by social media platform Blossom under the company First Media, was first published on June 1. It racked up 92 million views on Facebook within a week, and was shared more than 3 million times.

The only problem? Most of their claims have now been called into question.

Online fact-checking website Snopes published a report on Wednesday (June 5), exposing several fallacies tied to their experiments. The video also received a 'Mostly False' rating on the site.

Of their claims, four were discovered to be unproven or unreliable, five had mixed responses (unclear from evidence), while four were found to be downright false.

WHICH ARE FALSE?

Their first experiment purported to show the difference between natural and processed cheese, with chemically-added processed cheese shown to be 'difficult to melt'. To this, Eric Decker, a leading academic on food science in the US with whom Snopes consulted for the report, nicely noted it as "the opposite of reality".

Because the additives added to cheese were precisely so that it could melt more easily, he said.

Another fake claim is a popular hoax that rice from China and other countries is mixed with plastic to maximise profit.

According to Snopes, it had debunked the myth three years ago with this clincher: "You'd probably notice if your dinner tasted like the bag in which you carried it home".

First Media declined to comment on how it obtained the 'plastic rice' in the video which melted in the pan, or if they'd added anything to the rice before filming.

Another alarming experiment which was proven false? That synthetic supplements burn, while natural supplements won't. "That's just bull****," said Decker to Snopes. 

In another experiment, Blossom showed how adding lemon juice to ice cream will prove that detergents or washing powder had been added "for shine and lightness".

The source of the claims appears to be from a 2012 and 2013 document by a Sitaram Dixit, chairman of a non-profit organisation in India.

Which brings about another point of contention - that several of the experiments, while scientifically valid, had little to do with the food that was available in the US and many other countries.

Snopes, therefore, judged that the brand had "served its viewers - particularly those living outside India - poorly by failing to mention any of that crucial context."

From their investigation, it noted that the video "constituted a mixture of falsehoods and recycled urban myths - one or two which have a grain of truth to them".

In its statement to Snopes, First Media stated that "The video does not claim that all products or specific manufacturers include these materials, nor does it make any health or nutritional suggestions or recommendations.

"They are demonstrations of things we consider to be important for our global audience, however, this content is intended only for informational purposes and as entertainment."

In case you're curious about the three experiments which were classified as 'true', they are:

- To test if honey has been diluted with water, dip a candle wick in it. Honey which has been diluted with water will not burn

- Wash fresh produce in warm water to remove wax from it

- 'Meat glue' is used to bind smaller cuts of meat together.

However, on the last point, Snopes pointed out that what Blossom did in the video by describing it simply as "glue", was unnecessarily alarming and could be construed as misinformation.

Read Snopes' full report here.

candicecai@asiaone.com