Food Adulteration: Untold Facts and Tests to check at home

food-adulteration
Food Adulteration
Food plays a major role in everybody’s life. From a simple dish to the most expensive cuisine, food is prepared as per the taste of different people in different regions. From rich to poor everyone wants to have healthy and good food for themselves and for their dear ones.

But do you think the foods that you consume in our day to day life are totally safe?

  • You prepare your meals at home but do you know that it may be harmful too?
  • Why people nowadays are so much prone to diseases?
These questions arise many times in our minds. Today we will try to give you the answer to all such questions.

Adulteration of food is the reason behind many deadly diseases. Have you heard the term food adulteration or adulteration of food?

Food adulteration in simple language can be defined as the addition or subtraction of many substances to the food artificially, which destroys it’s the nutritional value and may cause major diseases.

Adulteration of food may sometime be intentional and sometimes unintentional. Intentional food adulteration is defined as removing or addition of a substance to food intentionally to satisfy the greed of the rich for their economic purpose.

Unintentional adulteration is usually the addition or subtraction of substances due to some kind of ignorance or carelessness.

Adulterated food is very hazardous to our health because it may lead to the death of a person. Adulterated food contains toxins and serves as a major element to deteriorate your health condition.

The global study report on food adulteration.

Study shows that food adulteration is one of the biggest challenges in the world. Though various types of measures are been taken to control the problem but still it continues to remain a major problem. The government of India is taking various initiatives to fight this problem. For providing safe food to citizens, the ministry of health and family welfare is completely responsible.  There are several Acts like the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, Food Safety & Standards Authority of India(fssai) to look after the quality of food.
These Acts also laid down severe punishment for the person who is found guilty for such contamination.

What is the code for adulterated food? Or borders related to food adulteration.

There are provisions under the Indian Penal Code that deal with the adulteration of food. Section 272 and 273 mentions that adulteration of food or drink or sale of such food or drink is punishable with imprisonment which may extend to six months or fine or both.

The Meghalaya government of India had sealed Meghalaya Fusion Limited for adulterating ready-made meals for children and nursing mothers. Meghalaya Fusion Limited was to supply wheat and gram flour to the Anganwadi centers or to distribute to nursing mothers and children from 0- 3 years in the state. But it was found that they used to deliver poor quality of wheat and gram flour.
Police seized around 200 bags of poor quality of food from the industry and registered a case under section 420 IPC, 272 IPC with Food Adulteration Act, 1954.

Which are the commonly adulterated food items?

Everything that we need to consume to survive can be easily adulterated either for economic or personal issues. But there are some common adulterated food items that we often use in our daily life.


Study shows that these food items are being adulterated most.

  • Edible oils 18%
  • Ghee and vanaspati 11%
  • Milk and milk products 21.5%
  • Cereals and pulses 11.6%
  • Sweets12.2%
  • Spices 16.3%
Further food items such as atta, tea, coffee, beverages, chili and turmeric powder, whole grains are also adulterated.

What are the different kinds of food adulteration? How food adulteration is done?

Food adulteration is basically done either intentionally or unintentionally as I mentioned before.

Intentional addition can be done in the following way:-

  • Mixing bricks powder with red chili.
  • Adding color to turmeric and red chili powder.
  • Adding chalk powder in sugar or salt.
  • Addition of tamarind seeds in coffee.
  • Water in honey.
  • Using chemicals such as calcium carbide, ethephon, oxytocin in fruits and vegetables for artificial ripening.

Unintentional adulteration is:-

  • Pesticides residues that may remain in fruits and vegetables.
  • Dropping of rodents in your food.
  • Contamination of food.

As you can see how our daily food items can be easily adulterated. Then how can you be sure that what you consume is totally safe? At the present time, most of the food items are adulterated.
So how can you detect the presence of adulterants in food?

Today we will tell you some simple tests to detect food adulteration.

The Biochemical tests which are useful for checking food adulteration.

There are many biochemical tests that are performed in the laboratory to test food but today I am going to show you some helpful tests which can be performed at home along with a few biochemical tests to detect food adulteration.

  • CHECKING RED CHILI POWDER- 
To check the presence of brick powder first take one glass-bowl or plate. Take some chili powder and rub it on the bottom of the glass-bowl or plate. If you feel some kind of grittiness it means that there is a brick powder mixed with red chili powder. And it is not safe to consume.

Red chili powder may also have artificial color. To check the chili powder, just sprinkle a pinch of chili powder over a glass of water and wait for some time. If you see color are streaking out it means your chili powder is adulterated.

  • CHECKING OF COLOR IN TURMERIC POWDER, DAL OR BESAN-
There is a biochemical test to check the purity of turmeric powder. Metanil Yellow is added to turmeric powder. To check the presence of metanil yellow, add a few drops of concentrated hydrochloric acid in water and add a spoonful of turmeric powder in the same water. If it turns pink then the turmeric powder is adulterated.

You can also add a spoonful of turmeric powder in 20ml lukewarm water and add a few drops of lemon or ascorbic acid. If the water turns pink, purple or violet then it indicates that the turmeric powder is adulterated. Metanil yellow which is added to turmeric powder is highly carcinogenic in nature.

  • CHALK POWDER IN SUGAR OR SALT- 
Mix a tablespoon of sugar and salt in a glass of water. Sugar or salt will dissolve in water and chalk powder will settle down and will give a smell of ammonia. Ammonia is highly toxic to the human body.

  • CHECKING COFFEE POWDER-
Sprinkle some coffee powder over a glass of water. The coffee powder will float in water whereas the tamarind seeds will sink within a few seconds. Tamarind seeds are very harmful because it can cause diarrhea and severe joint pain.

  • CHECKING PURITY OF HONEY-
Dip one cotton ball in honey. Take a matchbox and try to burn the cotton ball. It will burn easily if it is pure but if it is adulterated with water, the water will not allow the cotton ball to burn.

These are a few tests that you can perform easily at homes to detect adulterated food.

CONCLUSION- Food adulteration is a major problem and it is very difficult to overcome such a problem just because of the greed of some people.

Only strict laws and actions can help to put a stop on the adulteration of food.
You may try the above-mentioned test to see whether your food is adulterated or not.

Make us know in the comment section if you tried them out.
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Stay healthy.
Thank you.