Food Adulteration

Topic: Food Adulteration

Food is the basic necessity of life. It should be pure, nutritious and free from any type of adulteration for proper maintenance of human health.

One works hard and earns to satisfy one’s hunger. But at the end of the day, we are not sure of what we are eating. We might be eating a dangerous dye, sawdust, industrial starch or other contaminated foods which are a major source of diseases. And thus,we invite diseases rather than good health. Food adulteration is basically lowering the quality of food for sale either by the admixture or by the substitution of inferior substances or by the removal of some valuable nutritious ingredient.

Yesterday, i was watching news channel and horrified to see the adulteration going on in our country just for a few bugs. People donot bother for others’ lives and health. . Since every consumer wants to get maximum quantity of a commodity at lower prices, the traders make use of this fact and quality of the product lowers through the addition of toxic or harmful substances or removal of the nutritional one. Thus we ourselves create situations for the traders to make our health unfit. Such type of food is extremely dangerous as it may be toxic and can affect health and it may deprive nutrients essential for proper growth and development. What i saw was actually shocking, cucumber was injected with the oxytocin given to pregnant ladies during their labour pains just to increase its size. Taking that may lead to heart problem, high blood pressures and could even lead to death. Similarly,banana was treated with ethril containing ethylene that could lead to loss of memory or blindness. There are many more food items,even no fruit or vegetable has remained untouched of the adulteration. Some of the common adulterated foods are milk and milk products, atta, edible oils, cereals, pulses, tea, coffee and vinegar. The consequences of taking adulterated foods could be more than very dangerous, it could lead to Paralysis, anaemia, Vomiting, diarrhoea, Liver damage, cancer etc.

Food is considered to be adulterated if :
It contains any poisonous ingredient.

Any valuable or necessary constituent has been wholly or in part abstracted or any cheaper substance has been substituted wholly or in part.

It is coloured or otherwise treated, to improve its appearance or if it contains any added substance injurious to health.

It has been prepared, packed or kept under insanitary conditions.

Its quality is below the standard.

It is obtained from diseased animal.

It is unusual bigger in size than it needs to be.

Some of the tests :

Food Item:Sugar

Adulterant: Chalk

Test:Dissolve sugar in a glass of water, chalk will settle down at the bottom.

Food Item:Milk

Adulterant:Water

Test: Put a drop of milk on polished vertical surface. The drop of pure milk either stops or flows slowly leaving a white trail behind it. Whereas milk adulterated with water will flow immediately without leaving a mark.

Food Item:Pure Ghee or Butter

Adulterant: Vanaspathi

Test:Take one teaspoonful of melted ghee or butter with equal quantity of Conc. Hydrochloric acid in a test tube and add to it a pinch of cane sugar. Shake well for one minute and let it stand for five minutes. Appearance of crimson colour in lower layer shows the presence of vanaspathi.

Food Item:Dal

Adulterant: Metanil yellow (Dye)

Test:Take about 5 gms of dal in a test tube and then add 5 ml of water. Shake the test tube well. Then add a few drops of concentrated hydrochloric acid to the test tube. The presence of metanil yellow in dal is confirmed with the appearance of a pink colour in the solution.

Food Item:Ice Cream

Adulterant: Washing Powder

Test: Put some lemon juice on ice-cream, bubbles overcome in the presence of washing powder.

What Can We Do ?We must buy branded and ISI-marked products. If you have purchased any branded item and have a doubt in its quality, approach the company concerned. Always take and save your grocery bills so that the company can take necessary steps regarding the complaint. If you find that any food is adulterated, then do not remain silent. You can complain to Prevention of Food Adulteration(PFA) Department in your city / town / district and report to the newspapers and make other people aware to take joint action. So,it is not the time to be silent,we cannot play with our lives. Wake up and don’t let others sleep too!