Don’t Waste Your Money On These 4 Scam Grocery Items

|Posted by | Save Money, Shopping

grocery-scams-in-singaporeAvoiding these fancy grocery items can help Singaporeans save money at the supermarket.

It seems there’s always exotic items to be found at grocers in Singapore. Aisles are padded with food items and products that are new, improved or some combination of the two.

In the race to rake in more consumer dollars, manufacturers make changes to existing products that reduce nutritional value, are ineffective or even downright unnecessary. The next time you shop for groceries, watch out for these four food items that aren’t worth spending on.

truffles1. Truffle Oil Contains No Truffles

If you’ve eaten at any restaurant in Singapore, you’ve probably encountered truffles, worshiped as the greatest flavour-bomb to ever grace a dish.

It’s everywhere – truffle fries, truffle xiaolongbao, truffle mashed potato, even truffle mooncakes. And now that supermarkets are stocking handy little bottles of truffle oil, you can make your own truffle-anything-you-want right in the comfort of your own home.

Because real truffles are expensive, truffle oils have a high price point. A 40ml bottle of the stuff can cost you S$16, going up to S$39 for a 500ml canister. In case you’re counting, that’s between 8 cents to 40 cents per millilitre.

Why It’s a Scam

The problem is truffle oils do not contain any truffles at all. For that matter, they aren’t even “oils” in the same sense of olive or palm oils – i.e., not squeezed or distilled or otherwise extracted from the fruit or plant.

Instead, truffle oils are edible oils (such as olive or grapeseed) flavoured with 2,4-dithiapentane – the main compound responsible for truffles’ distinctive aroma and taste. So you’re really just lashing your slow-baked kale casserole with overpriced, chemically flavoured oil.

See Also: Sorry, the Wagyu Beef You Just Ate Was Probably Fake

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If you can’t bear the thought of giving up your weekly serving of truffle scrambled eggs, try using truffle salt instead. Unlike the oil, truffle salt is made with salt and real truffle pieces, so you’ll be getting the real deal, both in flavour and content.

Don’t Buy This: Truffle Oil – from $S16, 40ml
Buy This Instead: Truffle Salt – from S$10.80, 90gm

ice-cream2. Ice Cream is Mostly Air

We apologise in advance for breaking your heart with this next item.

Ice cream is everyone’s favourite dessert, no doubt because it contains milk and cream and sugar and other delicious stuff. But your favourite after-dinner treat also contains a whole lot of nothing.

Air is an important ingredient in ice cream. It’s what gives blended cream, sugar and ice that addictive melt-in-your-mouth quality. The amount of air in ice cream is known as “overrun”, and is measured as a percentage of the ice cream’s volume.

Given that air is a cost-free way to fill up a plastic tub, regulators in the US have stepped in to limit how much overrun manufacturers can include, before they can no longer legally call their product ice cream.

Why It’s a Scam

The maximum overrun allowed is 100%, which means that a 500gm tub of ice cream can contain as much as 50% air. But don’t despair – not every tub of ice cream is that full of lies.

Manufacturers adjust the amount of overrun in their product to adjust taste and texture according to the preference of their customers.

Generally, the more expensive brands of ice cream have lower overrun, with superpremium ice cream (we didn’t know that was a category too) having as low as 20% overrun.

On the other hand, cheaper ice cream has overrun percentages close to the legal limit. And there’s even a type of ice cream that has as much as 120% overrun. Such products aren’t allowed to be labelled ice cream; instead they’re called “frozen dairy dessert”.

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Premium ice cream contains less air per spoonful, which means more taste and texture. Lower-priced ice cream and frozen dairy desserts, on the other hand, literally give you less, spoonful against spoonful.

When it comes to ice cream, you get what you paid for, so going for more expensive brands (when you can afford it) isn’t necessarily a bad idea.

Don’t Buy This: Frozen dairy desserts, flavoured ice confection, anything that isn’t ice cream
Buy This Instead: Products clearly labeled “ice cream”


3. Bottled Water Comes from the Tap

You’ve probably heard that drinking bottled water is a bad idea, mainly for two reasons – it’s bad for the environment and bad for the wallet. And here’s one more reason for you: You could be paying for just treated tap water.

In recent years, consumer watchdog groups forced beverage giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to admit that their Dasani and Aquafina brands of bottled water contains water sourced from public utilities providers.

At least Coca-cola added some minerals to their product, although to what end, nobody could tell you. Maybe so they could have something to put on the nutrition information label?

Why It’s a Scam

The bottled water industry’s business model boils down to taking a readily available essential and selling it to consumers at hyperinflated prices.

Not only that, “budget” bottled water is just pure marketing nonsense. It wasn’t until consumer watchdog groups pressured Coca-cola and PepsiCo did they make changes to their labeling practices. Now you had the helpful little label of “municipal source” or “public water source” to warn you that you’re buying prepackaged tap water.

If you really must buy bottled water – say, you’re in a country without potable water – then look out for products with the following labels: Artesian Water, Spring Water, Well Water or Mineral Water. International conventions state these types of bottled water must come from a natural source, and no additives are allowed.

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Many people buy bottled water out of convenience or health concerns (unfounded, if you’re in Singapore, which has among the highest public water purity standards in the world). Or maybe you don’t like the taste of tap water.

If you simply cannot swallow the idea of drinking from the tap, try using a water filtration pitcher or home filtration system. You’ll save money, reduce your carbon footprint, and enjoy more flavoursome beverages.

Don’t Buy This: Bottled water – from S$0.49 per litre
Buy This Instead: Water filtration pitcher – from S$0.23 per litre


4. Omega 3 Eggs May Not Contain (Protective) Omega 3

Who doesn’t love eggs? Few food items are more versatile, delicious and nutritious, and with the appearance of Omega 3 eggs on supermarket shelves, everything from cheesecake to fried carrot cake just got healthier.

And, with doctors everywhere stressing the importance of including Omega 3 in our diets, replacing regular eggs with the shiny new Omega 3-enhanced ones is the obvious and delicious way to better health, right?

Why It’s a Scam

Omega 3 eggs really do contain Omega 3, which is a type of fatty acid that has been proven to have protective effects on human health. However, Omega 3 comes in two forms, which the human body uses in different ways.

DHA and ALA are both different forms of Omega 3 fatty acids found in our diet. DHA comes mainly from fatty ocean fish like salmon, whereas ALA comes from plant sources, such as flax seeds and chia seeds.

Studies have shown that it is the DHA form that helps protect against conditions such as heart disease, arthritis and certain cancers. As for ALA, the body mainly burns it for fuel.

Now, chickens can convert some ALA from plants into DHA, which can be stored in their eggs. When we eat these eggs, we absorb both DHA and ALA Omega 3.

However, the amount of DHA (the protective type of Omega 3) present in eggs is too low to be effective. And, eggs contain high levels of cholesterol, which means that trying to get enough Omega 3 from eggs is not a good idea.

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All told, nutritionists recommend deep sea fish as a better way to get enough Omega 3 in our diets. As for eggs, it’s more cost effective to stick to the regular kind.

Don’t Buy This: Omega 3 eggs – from S$3.25 per 10 pcs
Buy This Instead: “Regular” eggs – from S$1.80 per 10 pcs

Use a Rewards Card to Get More From Your Grocery Shopping

Now that you’re aware of these four scammy everyday foods, stretch your grocery dollars even further with the right credit card. Check out the HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card, which gives you up to 5% cashback when you buy from local grocers and supermarkets. 

You can find other cash rebate credit cards for groceries at

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Alevin ChanBy Alevin Chan
A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimize happiness and enjoyment in his life.