Food Frauds: Check If Your Food Is Adulterated With These Nifty Hacks

14 Jan 2020

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According to research data released by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), nearly 25 percent of edible goods samples tested this year were found to be adulterated or in violation of prescribed standards [1]. Adulteration is the process of adding prohibited substances to the food with similar color or appearance for gaining better profit. It not only lowers the quality of your food but can lead to severe health hazards such as stomach disorders, cancer, liver, and brain damage. Therefore one needs to take a serious note on combating this issue. Listed below are a few do-at-home tests for checking if your food is adulterated:

1. Spices And Condiments

a. Chilli Powder: Chilli powder is usually adulterated with brick powder, sand, salt, husk or talcum powder. To detect this adulteration, take a glass of water and sprinkle some chilli powder on the surface. The artificial colorants will immediately start descending in colour streaks. For detecting brick powder, you can also rub some chilli powder at the bottom of the glass. If the surface gets scratched, it could indicate the presence of brick powder or sand.

Pure chilli powder has a natural red or brick red colour. If it has a brownish colour, never buy.

b. Turmeric Powder: Turmeric powder is mostly adulterated with metanil yellow (artificial chemical), Sudan III, and artificial colours [2]. To find this out, add a teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of water. Natural turmeric powder leaves a light yellow colour while settling down whereas adulterated turmeric powder will leave a strong yellow colour in water.

The colour of good turmeric is a fluorescent deep orange to bright yellow. If the colour is somewhat a lighter or dull yellow shade, chances are it is of a low quality.

2. Sugar And Confectionery

a. Honey: Take a glass of water and add a drop of honey to it. If the drop of honey spreads in water, it indicates the presence of added sugar. Pure honey will not spread in water. The colour of honey varies from almost colourless to dark brown. The consistency can be fluid, viscous or partly to entirely crystallised [3]. As pure honey is thick, it takes a considerable time to move from one side of the container to the other. Whereas in the case of adulterated honey, it is light and flows quickly inside the container.

Good quality honey is thick and has less water content, hence is denser. Pick a jar that is mostly clear and has a golden, dark colour.

b. Jaggery: Dissolve 10 grams of jaggery in water, if it contains adulterants, it will settle down at the bottom.

Ideally, the colour of the jaggery should be dark brown. The yellowish colour may indicate a chemical treatment.

3. Dairy Products

According to a research report, 68.7 percent of milk and milk products sold in the country are not as per the standards set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) [4].

a. Milk: Place a drop of milk on a slanting surface. Pure milk flows very slowly through the surface leaving behind a white trail whereas milk adulterated with water flows immediately without leaving a mark. Mix five ml of milk with an equal amount of water. Shake it well. Milk adulterated with detergent forms dense lather whereas pure milk will form a thin foam layer due to agitation.

Pure cow milk is yellowish-white in colour due to the presence of beta-carotene pigment. Buffalo and goat milk has a creamy white colour.

b. Butter & Ghee

Take ½ teaspoon of ghee or butter in a clear glass bowl. Add two to three drops of tincture of iodine. If the yellow colour turns blue, it indicates the presence of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or other starches, which take longer to melt as compared to the pure version.

The colour of cow ghee is yellow whereas buffalo ghee is white. Butter comes in both colours, white and yellow. Both melt easily with the body and external heat.

Food adulteration is becoming a rising social concern these days and as a consumer, you need to be extremely alert for the better safety of your family. Perform these simple tests at home for detecting adulteration.

References:

  1. https://fssai.gov.in/upload/press_release/2019/11/5ddce90b2867fPress_Release_Enforcement_Data_26_11_2019.pdf

  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/307415215_DETECTION_OF_ADULTERANTS_IN_SPICES_THROUGH_CHEMICAL_METHOD_AND_THIN_LAYER_CHROMATOGRAPHY_FOR_FORENSIC_CONSIDERATION

  3. https://fssai.gov.in/upload/uploadfiles/files/Compendium_Food_Additives_Regulations_29_03_2019.pdf

  4. https://www.wjpr.net/index.php/download/article/1548927243.pdf

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