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3 restaurant menu items you should never order

Before you start salivating over fancy restaurant meals, make sure that you don’t fall for these common menu lies!

In an article for, "Real Food/Fake Food" author Larry Olmsted says you've probably been ripped off before. Food fraud is a $50 billion a year industry, and many of these deceptive practices are not illegal.

The next time you open a restaurant menu, here are three red flags to look out for:

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Kobe beef

You may have ordered “Kobe sliders,” but they likely weren’t made using the famous Japanese Kobe beef that’s known for its exceptional marbling, Olmsted told Eater. In fact, the supply in America is extremely limited. There are only nine restaurants in the U.S. that sell it, and they prominently display a plaque at the front counter. Real Kobe beef sells for over $20 an ounce, Olmsted said.

Red snapper

A nationwide study by Oceana found that 74% of sushi places and 38% of restaurants mislabeled seafood, and snapper topped the list. According to DNA testing, only seven of the 120 samples of red snapper purchased were actually red snapper. The other 113 samples were another fish. Olmsted said cod, halibut, flounder and grouper are also commonly mislabeled.

Truffle oil

European white truffles cost as much as $3,600 a pound, CBS News reported. So if you're ordering real truffles at a restaurant, you'll be paying a premium. With that said, it's probably no surprise that truffle oil isn't made from truffles at all. No, it's just meant to mimic the flavor. Olmsted told Eater that truffle oil is a low-quality shortcut that makes him question the entire menu.

What every diner can do

Since many restaurants seem to exaggerate the descriptions for their menu items, what are you supposed to do to avoid these fake foods? Well, knowing what they are is the first step. But Olmsted suggests asking your server specific questions about where the food comes from. If your waiter or waitress hesitates, you can consider that your answer.

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