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January 26, 2012
How To Expose Food Adulteration In Less Than 5 Minutes

Official systems set for food safety and prevention are constantly outdone by a hidden and booming food adulteration business. The onus of safeguarding one's family against contaminated food, unfortunately falls on citizens themselves. Here are some quick do-it-yourself tricks to expose some common adulteration techniques used by the food industry.


From loose packed ground spices, to wet produce such as milk, to dry spices and grains, almost everything you can buy has a potential of being adulterated, even if purchased from a reputable grocery retailer.

While some of these could be less harmful, such using 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 simple home tests that take no more than 5 minutes.

1. TUMERIC

Adulterant
Metanil Yellow and Kesari Dal (Added to enhance the yellow colour of a food substance)

Test
Dissolve half a spoon full of turmeric powder in 20 ml of lukewarm water. Add a few drops of lemon juice 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, OTHER GREEN VEGGIES


Adulterant
Malachite Green (To accentuate the bright, glowing green colour of the vegetable)


Test
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


Adulterant
Argemone seeds (used to add bulk and weight)

Test

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. EVAPORATED MILK, CONDENSED MILK AND SOME SOY MILKS


Adulterant
Starch (used to give it a thick, rich texture)

Test

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


Adulterant
Washing powder (used to add a bright white sheen and lightness of flavour)

Test

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


Adulterant
Papaya seeds (used to add bulk)

Test
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. INSTANT COFFEE

Adulterant
Tamarind seeds, chicory powder (used to add bulk and colour)

Test

Gently sprinkle coffee 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.


If you have any other suggestions or have found any adulterated food product in Canada, U.S, U.K, Australia or New Zealand, please email us.


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