April 3, 2023

What is food adulteration?

Food adulteration is the process by which the quality of the food or its products is reduced through the addition of a foreign or inferior substance or the removal of valuable substances from food. Consumption of adulterated food causes diseases like cancer, asthma, ulcer, etc. Majority of adulterants used by the shopkeepers are cheap substitutes which are easily available.

Reasons for food adulteration are:
*To get more profit
*To increase the weight, adulterant is added
*To increase volume of trade by showing lower prices

Adulterant usage was first discovered in 1820 by the German Chemist Friedrich Accum. He identified many toxic metal colorings in food and drinks.

There are three types of food adulteration
 Intentional adulteration
 Incidental adulteration
 Natural adulteration

Intentional adulteration means knowingly adding some undesirable substances to the food or removing/replacing some of the items and making it of poor quality. Those substances are added as a deliberate act on the part of the adulterer with the intention to increase the margin of profit. On a wide-scale, intentional adulteration in food is an attack on the safety of food supply. For example, addition of water to milk, addition of dried leaves to tea leaves, addition of chalk powder, wrong weighing of foodstuffs. Intentional adulterants are sand, marble chips, stones, mud, chalk powder, water, mineral oil & coal tar.

Incidental adulteration: Sometimes food gets incidentally or unintentionally contaminated in fields (e.g. crops) during growth and harvesting, storage, processing, transportation and handling by the producers as well as by the consumer.

Incidental adulterants are: pesticides, residues, tin from can, droppings of rodents, larva in food. Metallic contamination: Arsenic from pesticides, lead from water, mercury from effluent, from chemical industries, tins from cans.

Natural adulteration occurs due to the presence of certain chemicals or harmful substance naturally occurring in foods e.g. lead from water pipes joints mixes into the water.

Some adulterated foods in market includes: Cow/buffalo milk can be adulterated with starch, milk powder and urea; Butter is adulterated to an enormous extent with oleomargarine, a product of beef fat; green chillies, green peas & other vegetables adulterated with Malachite Green, Argemone seeds; Mustard seeds and mustard oil adulterated with Argemone seeds, Papaya seeds.
What is food adulteration?

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