Food adulteration in India has become an epidemic

Food adulteration in India has become an epidemic

Our household spices like turmeric powder is also adulterated with Metanil Yellow. Image Courtesy –

Food adulteration has been greatly increased during the last couple of years. Along with basic food grains like rice and wheat, and spices like ‘chilies’, ‘black pepper’, ‘turmeric’ etc. packaged water and bottled soft drinks are also in the area of adulteration.

Government officials tested various foods in their laboratory over the past 5 years indicated that ‘milk’, ‘ghee’, ‘edible oils’, ‘pulses’, ‘mineral water’ etc. were being adulterated creating worry among common people as well as health officials. Milk, generally known as one of the major nourishments of the human body, but in reality, milk is being adulterated with urea crossing the permissible limit – which is 700 particles per million. It is very much ridiculous that milk is being prepared with ‘urea’, ‘detergent’ etc. in various states of India.

Rice is being adulterated with small ‘grains of stones’ to increase the overall weight per kilogram by unscrupulous retailers. Likewise, mustard oil is adulterated with crude ‘rice bran’ oil.

Our household spices like turmeric powder is also adulterated with ‘metanil yellow’. ‘Metanil yellow’ is produced with utilizing some raw materials like ‘metanilic acid’ and ‘diphenylamine’. The common people do not know the risk of consuming turmeric powder mixed with ‘metanil yellow’. It is purely carcinogenic – means it is capable of causing cancer in living tissues. In a cup of lukewarm water, include around 1/4-1/2 tsp Turmeric powder and mix it well. Include few drops of lemon/lime juice. If the water turns violet, pink, or purple it is surely adulterated. It demonstrates the vicinity of Metanil Yellow which is said to be carcinogenic.

Even the tomato sauces mostly used in local fast food centres in numerous areas of West Bengal, are also artificially made from ‘pumpkin pulp’, ‘sugar’, ‘non-edible colours and flavours’. No tomato is present in that sauce to maintain very cheap rate in the local market. These sauces with ‘artificial colours and flavours’ are highly carcinogenic. These are being supplied rampantly without the checking of the health department.

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A food sample report says that Punjab is in the top position regarding food sample failure in India. The sample failure rate in Punjab was 22% in the year 2011, and the statistics reached 44% in 2015. West Bengal is also approaching neck by neck in food adulteration process with other states of India. Likewise, quantity of failed samples of ghee, ice cream was 23% in the year 2011, which increased to 45% this year.

Local packaged water was being ‘miss-branded’ in huge number of cases after removing of bacteria and projected as ‘mineral water’ with no required ISI or BIS authentication. But health officials said that it was not at all mineral water, instead it was simply packaged plain water.

Tea leaves were discovered adulterated with iron flakes to expand their weight while the silver foil used to enhance the look of desserts like ‘Burfi’ was being substituted with Aluminum Foil, which is harmful to human being. Various pulses were found to have been adulterated with non-edible colours while ‘black pepper’ was blended with ‘papaya seeds’ to more money by corrupt merchants.

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Items like ‘supari’, ‘pan masala’ and ‘gutkha’ had an abnormal state of ‘adulteration’ as 66% tests failed in 2012 and 23% in April 2015. Ashok Kumar, food analyst at the state-run Food Laboratory, Punjab told that ‘Pan Masala’ and ‘Gutkha’ had tobacco and nicotine.

The situation is so grave that the common people should come forward and take initiative in informing the health departments of respective states continuously. But at the same time, the health departments of various states should be active in operating their helpline telephone numbers and email addresses. Specific raids should be there again and again with proper prosecution of convicted merchants. Any kind of political pressure must be overruled for the sake of mankind.

Shalini Gupta

About Shalini Gupta

Shalini Gupta is a teacher at New Delhi with multifarious talents. She has passion for reading, writing, drawing, sketching etc. simultaneously with her teaching job. presently she is writing for Bigumbrella.

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