Nowadays every person is attracted towards processed foods. So to increase the sale and to fulfill high consumer demands, they have started to compromise the quality without maintaining food safety standards. There comes the addition and substitution of substances apart from food substances known as adulterants and the process is known as adulteration.
Adulteration can be intentional, incidental, metallic contamination and packaging hazards. Misbranding is also done. We have to be careful while buying products from markets. Food substances like milk is adulterated with water and starch, butter is adulterated with beef fat, sugar is adulterated with chalk powder, chilli powder is adulterated with brick powder, whole black pepper sometimes contain papaya seed , pulses contain khesari dal, wheat and other cereals contain ergot ,tea contains used tea leaves , coffee contains chicory and tamarind seed powder, honey contains sugar and water, turmeric powder and sweetmeats contain unwanted colourants like metanil yellow.
These adulterants can be responsible for various disease like diarrhea, dysentery, liver problem, even edible oil that contains argemone oil or castor oil can sometimes lead to blindness .The adulterants like khesari and metanil yellow are carcinogenic.
We can overcome adulteration by making ourselves aware and taking some small precautions. Several common tests at households can sometimes overcome this problem. Such as if chilli powder, black pepper , sugar and salt are dissolved in water, wood dust or brick powder in chilli powder will float on top layer, in case of black pepper the papaya seed will float as well, whereas impurities in sugar and salt will settle down .If tea leaves are rubbed on a paper, they will give dark brown imprint which proves the presence of used tea leaves. Washing of fruits and vegetables remove colourants. Rice contain pebbles as adulterant one has to be careful while cooking. If these initiation are taken and if people are made aware, we can try to reduce the level of adulteration and can surely help in eradicating health issues as well. Prevention of Food Adulteration act 29thSeptember 1954 was passed to lessen adulteration in the society which states that the food containing such adulterants should be discarded. We are looking for better India in future.
Written by Dr. Tanima Bhattacharya.