We Indians use a variety of ingredients in the food we prepare. Unfortunately, in recent times, the purity of ingredients we use has become a major problem. Food adulteration is very common in developing countries and according to the records in the Year 2012-13, 20% of food is either adulterated or of substandard quality. Food adulteration is nothing but reducing the quality of food, through an addition of adulterants, or by removing vital substances. Food adulteration is very harmful and can cause long-term damage to your health.
According to the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), definition of food adulteration is, The addition or subtraction of any substance to or from food, so that the natural composition and quality of food substance is affected.
Food items are said to be adulterated if the quality is reduced by adding any items which are injurious to health or by removing a nutritious substance.
1. Intentional adulteration
Under this, food adulteration is usually done intentionally to add volume, texture, taste or stability to the items. This is done to increase the profit for the seller.
Examples: Adding sand, brick powder, and stones.
2. Incidental Adulteration:
Incidental adulteration takes place when foreign materials are added to a food due to ignorance, negligence, or improper storage facilities.
Examples: Insects in the food due to poor packaging.
These are the important causes of food adulteration:
1. In some cases, food adulteration is a part of the business strategy, which is done to increase the profits of the seller.
2. To increase the quantity of the product.
3. Lack of awareness among the general public on food consumption.
4. Lack of government initiatives to prevent the adulteration of food.
5. Increased demand for certain food items.
You might have come across many cases where milk is adulterated. This is mainly because it is very easy to adulterate milk. Milk is usually adulterated with water, detergent, chalk, fat and urea. Khoya is adulterated with paper, refined oil and skimmed milk powder.
How to check?
It is very easy to check if milk is adulterated. All you have to do is pour a drop of milk, on a polished slant surface. If the milk flows without leaving a trail, it is adulterated. Usually, pure milk leaves a white trail behind.
To increase the quantity of honey, water and table sugar are added to it. According to studies, most of the honey brands have antibiotics in them and consumption might induce resistance to antibiotics. This might lead to liver damage and blood-related disorders.
How to check?
Water is used to increase the quantity of honey. You can check if honey is adulterated or not, just by dipping a cotton wick in pure honey. After this, you should try lighting it with a matchstick. If there is water in the honey it won't burn.
3. Chilli Powder
Chilli powder is adulterated by adding substances which look similar to it like brick powder.
How to check?
To check if it is adulterated, you need to take a teaspoon of chilli powder and add to a glass of water. If the water colour changes to red and earthy, the chilli powder is adulterated.
4. Turmeric Powder
To increase the quantity of turmeric powder, metanil yellow, lead chromate and chalk powder are added.
5. Coffee powder
To add quantity and colour to coffee powder, tamarind seeds and chicory powder are added. This is not good for your health as it can cause diarrhea, giddiness and joint pain.
This is how food adulteration affects you:
1. If mineral oil is added to edible oil, it can cause cancer.
2. Food colour beyond a certain limit can cause liver damage, infertility, anaemia, cancer and allergies.
3. If lead chromate is added to turmeric powder and spices it can cause paralysis, anaemia, and miscarriage in women.
4. Lead added to food items can cause lead poisoning, foot drop, insomnia, constipation and anaemia.