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Canada’s Counterfeit Culture

Earlier this week, CBC premiered a new documentary titled Counterfeit Culture, which exposes the shady underbelly of designer knock-offs. Since then, the one hour doc has been making headlines and, yes, provoking thoughts for its unapologetic portrayal of the dangers of counterfeiting.

Filmed on location in Canada, the U.S., Asia and Europe, Counterfeit Culture not only looks at the peddling of knock-off luxury goods, but also enters the dangerous and sometimes deadly world of fake, fraudulent and faux products like pharmaceuticals, food (including maple syrup and beer!), toys, electronic goods, car parts and microchips. Basically, if it can be made, it can be faked and we Canucks aren't always able to spot the difference between the fabulous and the phonies.

According to the World's Customs Organization, Europe's top clothing, accessory and footwear companies — Uggs, Hunter Boots and Toms being the fakers favourites — lose $10 billion each year to brand name copycats. Producers of fake handbags and other luxury items have become so good at their craft that they sometimes even manage to trump the real thing quality wise. In January 2006, a Hong Kong market was even selling a knock-off Louis Vuitton design that hadn't even been released yet!

Counterfeit products often lend themselves to organized crime syndicates around the world, but when it comes to cosmetics and other grooming products, there's often an even deadlier bottom line. Only recently did Canada issue warnings about a tainted batch of counterfeit toothpaste, said to have originated in China, that contained the industrial solvent diethylene glycol. Now I'm no scientist, but it wasn't hard to discover that this chemical is usually used as a component in brake fluid and not as an ingredient for minty fresh breath.

The documentary is a real eye-opener, but if you missed the premiere, you can catch it here. There's also a quiz, director's commentary and a game to test how savvy you are at picking out a fake. Honestly, can you spot the real deal among these products?

Images via CBC