What is Food Adulteration?


Food is a fundamental human need. Our bodies use the food we eat to run metabolic processes and keep life going. Food is necessary for various life processes and growth. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, pulses, grains, and other foods are all part of our daily diet. All of these are eaten raw or cooked into delicious dishes that are enjoyed. However, you may have observed very thin milk as a result of mixing with water, white, yellow, or black pebbles in raw pulses, white tiny stones mixed with rice, and so on in recent times. Adulteration is the combining of ingredients with food items.
Food adulteration is one of the man-made dangers we face in the face of an expanding population, environmental dangers, and diminishing natural resources. Adulterated food is food that has been altered in either its natural composition or quality or by external sources. Our health is seriously impacted by food adulteration. In many nations, public education about the dangers of food adulteration is widespread despite the government’s various efforts. The food industry employs a variety of chemical and synthetic substances in a variety of ways to alter food. Below is a discussion of the various types of food adulteration and their methods.

What is Food Adulteration?

food adulteration

Adulteration is a criminal offense, and the food is said to have been adulterated if it does not meet the government’s legal requirements. Adulteration of food occurs when substances that lower the quality of the food are added, either intentionally or unintentionally. Thus, food adulteration can be defined as the addition of harmful substances to food or food materials, thereby contaminating or adulterating the food.

What is Adulterant?

Adulterants are substances that are added to food and reduce its quality. It is a substance mixed in with other food ingredients that detracts from the food’s natural quality. Any kind and amount of the adulterant are permitted. The majority of adulterants are dangerous and can reduce a product’s potency. Even if the adulterant is not harmful, it still significantly reduces the nutritional value of the food. When ingested over a longer period of time, some adulterants are also known to be fatal or carcinogenic. Various adulterants are employed to tamper with a variety of foods.

When is Food Considered Adulterated?

To determine whether a food is adulterated or not, a few conditions must be met. Below is a summary of these points.

  • Food is given a chemical that lowers its quality or renders it dangerous.
  • Whole or a small number of ingredients are substituted with less expensive or inferior materials.
  • The quality of the food is compromised when a component is partially or completely removed.
  • With dangerous ingredients, it is rendered presentable. or to improve its appearance, its colour is altered.
  • Food quality is diminished by anything that is added to it or subtracted from it.

Why is Food Adulteration Done?

You may be aware of the long-standing practise of adding water to milk to expand its volume and maximise profit from a less amount of milk. Similar to this, companies and food producers adulterate food for a variety of reasons.

  • Adulteration of food is a practice used in business to increase profit through less expensive techniques.
  • Additionally, it is done to present the dish and to mimic the flavors of more popular foods.
  • Food adulteration is frequently committed by people who are unaware of the dangers involved. It is still widely used because of a lack of awareness and proper knowledge.
  • Adulteration makes food heavier, contributes to higher profits, and boosts sales more cheaply.
  • The population growth rate is another important factor in food adulteration.
  • the effectiveness with which government efforts to control it.

Types of Food Adulteration

types of food adulteration

Food adulteration can take four different forms.

Intentional adulteration: When ingredients that closely resemble the components of the food are intentionally added to it to make it heavier and more profitable. As an illustration, consider mixing dirt, muck, pebbles, marbles, sand, chalk powder, and tainted water.

Accidental adulteration: Accidental adulteration happens when food is handled carelessly. such as chemical residues in cereals, the development of larvae, the presence of rodent droppings, etc.

Metallic adulteration: It is the insertion of metallic substances, such as lead or mercury, to food. It could occur unintentionally or even by accident.

Packaging Hazard: The ingredients of the food may interact and mix with the packaging materials used to package it, creating packaging risks.

Methods of Food Adulteration

The following are some examples of food adulteration techniques: –

Sand, dust, clay, muck, and pebbles are mixed with food particles.

  • Substitution: Some nutritious ingredients are swapped out with less expensive, lower-quality ones, changing the food’s nutritional value and possibly posing a health risk.
  • Using Decomposed Food: This approach suggests combining healthful foods with decomposed food. Food that even tries to hide damage or any sort of deficiency is regarded as contaminated. Additionally, the final product is contaminated when healthy foods are purposefully combined with foods of dubious quality.
  • Additions of Poisonous Substances: Another method of food adulteration is the blending of food with toxic substances in an effort to boost sales and profit. For instance, adding dyes, colors, or dangerous unapproved preservatives.
  • Misbranding: It is the practice of changing the production dates, expiration dates, component lists, or deceptive ingredient derivatives, among other things.
  • Artificial ripening: It is another form of food adulteration, which involves putting chemicals into fruits and vegetables to hasten the ripening process. For instance, mangoes are ripened with carbide to balance out economic supply and demand.

Examples of Food Adulteration

The following is a list of some instances of food adulteration.

  • Mixing of pulses with pebbles and sand.
  • Blending milk and water.
  • Mixing oil with chemical byproducts or less expensive oils.
  • Combining stale and inferior food goods with new and superior ones.
  • These are a few instances of adulteration in food.

Effects of Food Adulteration

Food ProductsAdulterantHarmful Effects
Milk and CurdWater and starch powder.Stomach disorders.
Ghee, Cheese and ButterMashed potatoes, Vanaspati and starch powder.Gastro-intestinal disturbances and other stomach disorders.
GrainsDust, Pebbles, Stones, Straw, weed seeds, damaged grain, etc.Liver disorders, Toxicity in the body, etc.
PulsesDyes, chemical and Lead Chromate.Stomach disorders.
Coffee powderChicory, tamarind seeds powder.Diarrhea.
TeaArtificial coloring agents.Liver disorders.
SugarChalk powder, Washing soda, Urea, etc.Stomach disorders and kidney failure.
PepperDried papaya seeds and blackberries.Severe allergic reactions including stomach and skin irritations.
Edible OilsMineral oil, Karanja oil, castor oil and artificial colors.Gallbladder cancer, allergies, paralysis, cardiac arrest, and increased LDL cholesterol.
Turmeric PowderPesticide residues, sawdust, chalk dust, industrial dyes, metanil yellow dye arsenic, lead metal etc.Cancer and Stomach disorders.
Chilli and Coriander powderRedbrick powder, Rhodamine B dye, Red lead, dung powder, soluble salts, water-soluble synthetic colours and other common salts.Metal toxicity, Cancer, lead poisoning, tumour, variations in blood pressure and other stomach related disorders.
Jam, Juice and CandiesNon-permitted dyes including metanil yellow and other artificial food dyes.These dyes are highly carcinogenic that have the potential to cause different types of cancer.
JaggeryWashing soda, chalk powder
HoneyMolasses, dextrose, sugar and corn syrupsStomach disorders
Fruits and VegetablesChemical dyes, Malachite green, calcium carbide, copper sulphate and oxytocin saccharin wax.Stomach disorders, vomiting, and dyes used are highly carcinogenic.
Tomato saucesPumpkin pulp, non-edible artificial colours and flavours.Gastritis and inflammation of vital organs.
Ice CreamPepper oil, ethyl acetate, butyraldehyde, nitrate, washing powder. The kind of gum is added which is prepared by boiling different animal parts including the tail, udder, nose, etc.Dreadful diseases that affect organs including lungs, kidneys, and heart.

How to Detect Food Adulteration?

The implications of food adulteration on our health are numerous. Consuming contaminated food over an extended period of time could possibly be fatal. These days, eating organic food is more popular because it provides us with the full nutrition that a certain item is meant to. It is not polished with toxic substances like wax or packed with dangerous chemicals. However, because of low output, organic food is more expensive and occasionally out of stock. Therefore, it’s critical to determine whether your food has been tampered with. This can be done using a variety of DIY techniques.

For instance, put some milk and some water in a bottle and shake it vigorously to see if the milk contains detergents. It is pure if it congeals into a foamy coating. A thick layer appears if the milk is tainted.
Similar to this, take your sample and mix it in a glass of water to determine whether milk, sugar, or jaggery has been contaminated with chalk powder. Chalk is present if there is any precipitate at the bottom of the glass.

Soak the veggies in water for a while to watch the colour dissolving, then check the vegetables to see whether they have been polished with colour.

How to Prevent Food Adulteration?

Following are a few strategies for preventing food adulteration.

  • Only tight and stringent rules, as well as government checks and interventions, can prevent food adulteration at the industry level.
  • Always be careful not to purchase deep or dark-colored groceries to avoid swallowing contaminated meals.
  • Put an end to eating processed food.
  • Before eating, thoroughly wash or soak your fruits and vegetables in water.
  • Before purchasing, inspect any canned or tinned foods for leaks or puffing.
  • The government licence number that stands for food safety in Indian marketplaces is FSSAI. As a result, always check the food package for the FSSAI, an ingredient list, a manufacturing date, and an expiration date.

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