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Category : Food

Adulterants are chemical substances which should not be contained within other substances (eg. food, beverages, fuels etc.) Adulterants may be intentionally added to more expensive substances to increase visible quantities and reduce manufacturing costs, or for some other deceptive or malicious purpose. The addition of adulterants is called adulteration.

Adulteration of Food
Food- the basic necessity of life. We toil day and night for what? For that two morsel of wholesome nutritive food. And if at the end of the day we are not sure of what we eat, than what are we toiling for? We may be eating a dangerous dye, sawdust, soap stone, industrial starch, Aluminum foil and believe it, even horse-dung! Inviting disease rather than good health.

Are you getting attracted by the delectable and the luscious color of the “Mithai”? Decorated with an equally attractive silver foil or the color so attractive, that you almost want to devour it. Is it the whiteness of the puffed rice that you loved rather than the puffed rice itself? Or the taste of that spicy deep yellow colored Indian snack called “Pakoda”? And you wonder why whenever you make it at home, you never get that same yellow color?

When you move about in the market and see the attractively decorated sweets and other edible items your appeti te becomes almost insatiable. And that’s what it is meant to do to you. Attract you to buy and eat. But wait! In the process you may be eating… Metanil yellow a nonpermitted coal tar dye commonly known as ‘Kishori Rang’, Rhodamin-B, Lead Chromate or perhaps Ultra Marine Blue. These are all non-permissible and banned colors and they cause serious health hazards and may also cause cancer in the long run. They are carcinogenic.

Now what exactly is food adulteration?

Well, the deliberate contamination of food materials with low quality, cheap, non-edible or toxic substances is called food adulteration. While the substance that degrades or lowers the quality of food is an adulterant.

The word is only appropriate when the additions are unwanted by the recipient, otherwise the expression would be food additive. Adulterants when used in illicit drugs are called cutting agents, while deliberate addition of toxic adulterants to food or other products for human consumption is known as poisoning.

Some of the commonly used additives in the 19th century were poisonous. To whiten bread, for example, bakers sometimes added alum and chalk to the fl our, while mashed potatoes, plaster of Paris (calcium sulphate), pipe clay and even sawdust could be added to increase the weight of their loaves. Rye fl our or dried powdered beans could be used to replace wheat fl our and the sour taste of stale fl our could be disguised with ammonium carbonate. Brewers too, oft en added mixtures of bitter substances, some containing poisons like strychnine, to ‘improve’ the taste of the beer and save on the cost of hops. Far more additives are present in foods than ever before, but their use is monitored and controlled. It would be comforting to think that such gross adulterations as occurred in the 19th century are no more, but there have been reports of unscrupulous traders selling, for instance, ‘vodka’ made from diluted industrial methylated spirits and imported chilli powder, which contained a carcinogenic red dye called Sudan I, which is normally used in shoe polish.

Dangerous Effects of Adulterants in Foods :Adulteration of food is common in developing countries. Prohibited substances are added to food for financial gain which leads to several health hazards for the consumers. Here are dangerous ill-effects of some common adulterants in food substances.

Artificially coloured saw dust or foreign leaves are mixed in tea leaves or teas dust. This leads to cancer and several health hazards.

Coffee powder is adulterated with roasted chicory. In recent days it is found that mixture of coal, clay, indigo and lead chromatic are added to coffee powder which leads to paralysis and brain damage.

benefits-of-mustard-seeds1Mustard seeds
Argemone seeds are mixed in mustard seeds and lead to epidemic dropsy.


Milk that ever-enduring milk. For time immemorial it had had been the basic staple food right from our 635982769649978790925639291_Glass-of-milk-2009growing up stage, to when we have grown up. As a child we need it for growth and as a grown up we need it for replenishing our nutrition daily. Tired and bogged down, need something to rejuvenate… take a glass of milk. But even this has not been spared. Common adulterant, addition of water, flour or any other starchy material say industrial starch. Addition of water and extraction of fat is very common and not harmful. But what when the milk you drink is not milk at all? Rather combination of urea, liquid detergent, a little sugar, vegetable oil and water… a Synthetic Milk! on.

Not only water but also starch, wheat fl our, rice fl our, arrow root etc are added to milk. Also dangerous substances like Pulverized soaps, detergents, Ammonium sulphate, Urea, boric acid are also added lead to cancers, Acute Renal failure etc.

Merchants used to adulterate Ghee by using vanaspathi, but these days it is adulterated in a dangerous way, that is the bones of cows, donkeys, monkeys etc.

Alcoholic liquors
These are contaminated with methanol which cause blindness and often death

It is a sad thing that these immoral merchants won’t leave even the natural foods. Fruits parti cularly apples and mangoes are sprayed over with lead arsenate that leads to chills, cramps, paralysis and death

Criteria for selection of food

Selection of wholesome and non-adulterated food is essential for daily life to make sure that such foods do not cause any health hazard. Although it is not possible to ensure wholesome food only on visual examination when the toxic contaminants are present in ppm/ppb level. However, visual examination of the food before purchase makes sure to ensure absence of insects, visual fungus, foreign matters, etc. Therefore, due care taken by the consumer at the ti me of purchase of food aft er thoroughly examining can be of great help. Secondly, label declaration on packed food is very important for knowing the ingredients and nutritional value . It also helps in checking the freshness of the food and the period of best before use. The consumer should avoid taking food from an unhygienic place and food being prepared under unhygienic conditions. Such types of food may cause various diseases. Consumption of cut fruits being sold in unhygienic conditions should be avoided. It is always better to buy certified food from reputed shop.