Monday, May 28, 2012


Food is essential for life. It should be pure, nutritious  and free from any type of adulteration for proper maintenance of human health.
Despite of improvement in production, processing and packaging, more poisons seem to be entering our food chain. For example Indian spices or 'masalas' add taste and flavour to food and also help in digestion. Some spices like turmeric have an antiseptic effect on the body. But what is most important is the quality of these ingredients. Every consumer wants to get maximum quantity of a commodity for as low a price as possible. This attitude of the consumer being coupled with the intention of the traders to increase the margin of profit, where the quality of the commodity gets reduced through addition of a baser substance and / or removal of vital elements also commonly known as food adulteration.

What Is Food Adulteration ?

Under the Prevention of Food Adulterant Act, an Adulterant is any material which be employed for the purposes of adulteration.

Any article of food is adulterated if :
  1. If any inferior or cheaper substance has been substituted wholly or in part,
  2. If any constituent of the article ahs been wholly or in part abstracted
  3. If the article has been prepared, packed or kept under insanitary conditions
  4. If the article consists in part filthy, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable or is infested with insects
  5. If the article is obtained from diseased animal
  6. If the article contains any poisonous ingredient
  7. If the article has unprescribed colouring substance or the colouring substance is in excess of the prescribed limits.
  8. If the article contains any prohibited or excessive preservatives.
  9. If the quality nor purity of the article falls below prescribed standard

    How to Test for Food Adulteration?

    Food Article Adulterant Simple Method for Detecting the Adulterant
    Milk Water

    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. Take 5 ml of milk in a test tube and add 2 drops of bromothymol blue soln. Development of blue colour after 10 minutes indicates presence of urea.
    Mustard Seeds
    Argemone Seeds
    Argemone seeds have rough surface and mustard seeds on pressing is yellow inside while argemone seed is white.
    Ice Cream
    Washing Powder
    Put some lemon juice, bubbles are observed on the presence of washing powder
    Dissolve sugar in a glass of water, chalk will settle down at the bottom, similarly for salt
    Silver Foil
    Aluminium Foil
    On ignition genuine silver foil burns away completely leaving glistening white spherical ball of the same mass while aluminum foil is reduced to ashes of black Grey colour.
    A cotton wick dipped in pure honey burns when ignited with a match stick. If adulterated presence of water will not allow the honey to burn, if it does will produce a cracking sound.
    Gently sprinkle the coffee powder on surface of water in a glass.  The coffee floats over the water but chicory begins to sink down within few seconds.  The falling chicory powder particles leave behind them a trail of colour, due to large amount of caramel they contain
    Coloured leaves
     Used tea

    Iron fillings
    Rub leaves on white paper, artificial colour comes out on paper.
    Tea leaves sprinkled on wet filter paper. Pink or red spots on paper show colour
    Move a magnet through the sample. Iron will stick to the magnet.
    Red Chilli Powder
    Rodamine Culture
     Brick Powder
    Take 2gms sample in a test tube, add 5ml of acetone. Immediate appearance of red colour indicates presence of Rodamine.
     Brick powder settles fast chilli powder settles slowly when put in water.
    Turmeric Powder
    Metanil Yellow
    Add a few drops of HCl to the extract of turmeric from water. Instant appearance of violet, when the colour persists when diluted with water indicates the presence of metanil yellow.
    Dal arhar, moong, washed channa
    Metanil Yellow
    Extract the colour with Luke warm water from the sample of pulses, add drops of HCl.  A pink colour indicates presence of metanil yellow.
    Green vegetables like chilli
    Malachite green
    Take a small part of the sample and place it over a moistened white blotting paper, the impression of the colour on paper indicates the presence of malachite green
    Pure Ghee or Butter
    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.
    Black Pepper
    Papaya Seeds
    Float the sample in alcohol. The mature black pepper berries sink while papaya seeds and light black pepper float.
    Soap Stone or earthy matter
    Shake a little portion of sample with water and allow to settle. Soap stone or earthy matter will settle down at the bottom.
    Coloured dried tendrils of maize cob
    Pure saffron will not break easily like artificial. Pure saffron when allowed to dissolved in water will continue to give its colour so long as it lasts.
    Common Salt
    White powdered stone
    Stir a spoonful of sample salt in water. Chalk will make the solution white and other insoluble impurities will setlle down. 

You can try these kitchen tricks to expose adulteration in your everyday ingredients

In a country where official systems set for food safety and prevention are constantly outdone by a booming adulteration business, the onus of safeguarding one's family against contaminaed food, unfortunately falls on citizens themselves. From loose packed ground spices, to wet produce such as milk, khoya, paneer, to dry spices and grains, almost everything you can buy has a potential of being adulterated, if purchased from an unauthorized vendor in a box unmarked and tested by either Agmark or ISI. While some of these could be less harmful, such as water or bran, chemicals and colouring agents such as Metanil Yellow, Lead Chromate, Sudan Red III, are known to be carcinogenic. The chairman of the Consumer Guidence Society of India, Dr Sitaram Dixit lists a few commonly used food items, and suggests simple home tests to check for their most common adulterants. In case the test asks for the presence of an acid, you could use common toilet-cleaning acid, or easily found citric acid or even lemon juice.

1 Turmeric, dals and pulses such as moong or channa
Metanil Yellow and Kesari Dal (Added to enhance the yellow colour of a food substance)
Dissolve half a spoon full of besan or turmeric powder in 20 ml of lukewarm water. Add a few drops of hydrochloric acid or any commonly available acid at home. If the water turns pink, violet or purple, it shows the presence of Metanil yellow.
Harmful effects
It's highly carcinogenic and if consumed over a continuous period of time it can also cause stomach disorders.
2. Green chillies, green peas and other vegetables
Malachite Green (To accentuate the bright, glowing green colour of the vegetable)
Take a small portion of the sample and place it over a moistened white blotting paper. Coloured impressions on the blotting paper indicate the presence of Malachite green.
Harmful effects
It's a coloured dye that has proven to be carcinogenic for humans if consumed over a long period of time.
3. Mustard seeds and mustard oil
Argemone seeds (used to add bulk and weight)
When pressed or crushed, argemone seeds are white inside and have a rough outer surface whereas mustard seeds are smooth on the outside and are yellow on the inside.
Harmful effects
The consumption of these could cause epidemic dropsy and severe glaucoma. Young children and senior citizens with poor immunity are more susceptible this.
4. Paneer, khoya, condensed milk and milk
Starch (used to give it a thick, rich texture)
Take a small sample of the product in a test tube, add 20 ml of water and bring to a boil. Cool to room temperature and add a drop or two of iodine solution. If the solution turns blue, it marks the presence of starch.
Harmful effects
Unhygienic, unprocessed water and starch can cause stomach disorders. Starch greatly reduces the nutritional value of the ingredient.
5. Ice cream
Washing powder (used to add a bright white sheen and lightness of flavour)
Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on the ice cream. If it starts to froth and bubble, it marks the presence of washing powder.
Harmful effects
It can cause severe stomach and liver disorders
6. Black pepper
Papaya seeds (used to add bulk)
Float the sample in alcohol. Mature black pepper corns will sink where as papaya seeds will float to the surface.
Harmful effects
Papaya seeds can cause serious liver problems and stomach disorders.
7. Coffee powder
Tamarind seeds, chicory powder (used to add bulk and colour)
Gently sprinkle coffee powder on the surface of water in a glass. The coffee will float whereas chicory will start to sink within a few seconds. Also, the falling chicory powder will leave a trail of colour behind due to the large amounts of caramel it contains.
Harmful effects
These can cause diarrhea, stomach disorders, giddiness and severe joint pains.
Catch the adulterer
According to the directives by the FDA, if a packed product with an ISI or an AGMARK tests positive for adulteration, you can take the sample to the Agmark head office on the Tulsi Pipe road, between Matunga Road and Mahim railway station, and register an official complaint. The agencies then conduct their own  tests, and if confirmed, raid their premises and take legal action against erring companies.[link]

What You Can Do ?

Food Adulteration occur in rural as well as urban areas. So the first option is to buy branded  and ISI-marked products. Even if these branded items cost a little extra, it is worth paying the extra amount to safe guard your health. 
If you have purchased any branded item and doubt its quality, you can at least approach the company concerned. Always remember to preserve your grocery bills so that the company can take necessary steps regarding the complaint
If any person manufactures for sale, stores, sell imports or distributes any article of food which is adulterated or misbranded, he is liable under the PFA Act to be punished with imprisonment and fined.  If you find that any food is adulterated, then do not keep silent. Complain to Prevention of Food Adulteration Department in your city / town / district and report to the newspapers and make more and more people aware to take joint action. [link]



Mamata Sahu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mamz said...

Its really vry helpful...

Nikhilesh Ram said...

This was quite helpful for my project in adulteration of foods.
Thanx for this grt help.

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