A shocking delivery was made that during the COVID pandemic, there was a 60% rise in food adulteration cases in India.
The 2019-2020 FSSAI Report alarmingly reported that 38% of food samples were adulterated and that adulteration had doubled since 2012, and it has escalated up to 60% during the pandemic.
Some argue that if people don’t want adulterated foods, the government needs to bring down the prices of all things for how does one expect food manufacturers to sell pure food when people don’t have jobs or money?
It appears the surging prices in all items have led to the crisis of increased adulterated food especially during the pandemic, in fact, during this time, most people were looking for a fast easy buck. Heavy looting was going on with hiked prices everywhere, adding to the hopelessness of joblessness along with sky-rocketing fuel prices, in fact, India’s fuel price rises were the highest in the world!
Recently, 2, 060 kg of paneer mixed with sulphuric acid was seized by a health team in Chandigarh and the factory owner was arrested.
Today’s Food Adulteration Act states a punishment of minimum imprisonment of 6 months that may extend up to 3 years and a maximum fine of Rs 10 lakhs. Patanjali was found guilty of adulteration in honey and after selling millions of tons of honey, the government thought it was worthy to set him a fine of merely Rs. 10 lakh, which would be peanuts for him.
Doctors report that more than 20 per cent of patients who come to hospitals and clinics consumed some sort of adulterated food and this is not only life-threatening but causes serious consequences for life.
Food adulteration is the process of reducing the quality of food items by either adding harmful substances to them or subtracting valuable things from them with the idea to mint money. The adulterants they mix with various food items will cause poor health and even severe illnesses to the consumers triggering faster death rates. It is so serious that the punishment seems mild in contrast to the crime.
Here are Some Common Adulterated Foods and How to Detect Them
Common adulterants: Chalk powder, lead chromate and metanil yellow.
Check Purity: Add one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of warm water. Don’t shake or stir. If the powder settles at the bottom after 20 minutes, it is pure. If it gets dissolved then it can be adulterated.
Common adulterants: Pebble, damaged grains and polish.
Check Purity: If the rice is polished, you can clearly tell that by just looking at its shine. Other adulterants can also be visually examined. Soak rice in water, and if the water turns white, it is polished.
Common adulterants: Water, urea, starch, detergent and synthetic milk.
Check Purity:1. Put a drop of milk on a slope, if it runs down leaving a white spot behind, then it is pure milk. Else, it contains water.
2. Mix 1/2 cup of milk with 1/2 cup of water in a bottle and shake well. If you see foam or lather, it contains detergent.
3. Boil the milk and if you see a yellowish lather on top of it, it is synthetic milk.
Common adulterants: Chalk powder.
Check Purity: Mix a tablespoon of salt in a glass of water, if the water turns white in colour and some particles settle at the bottom, then it is chalk powder.
Common adulterants: Sugars from high fructose corn syrup, sugar.
1. Dip a cotton ball in honey and burn it. If it burns immediately, then it is pure honey, else it’s not.
2. In a glass of water, put one tablespoon of honey, if it settles down in the glass then it is pure. If it dissolves quickly, it is adulterated.
Red chilli powder:
Common adulterants: Brick powder and artificial colours.
Check Purity: Add a tablespoon of red chilli powder in a glass of water. Stir well. If the particles have settled down, it can be brick powder and if you see the colour of the water change to bright red, then it can be artificial colours.
Common adulterants: Vegetable oil, starch and vanaspati.
1. Melt a tablespoon of ghee and pour in a glass jar and refrigerate till it becomes solid. If the layers separate, then the ghee is impure.
2. Add a pinch of sugar to a teaspoon of melted ghee in a bottle. Shake well. Check it after 5 minutes, if you see the colour change to red, then it contains vegetable oil.
Common adulterants: Palm oil, engine oils, argemone oil and paraffin.
Check purity: Refrigerate the coconut oil, if it solidifies, then it is pure. Else, it contains adulterants.
Common adulterants: Artificial colours.
Check purity: Grind some pulses to get a powdery texture. Add warm water to it, if you see a bright yellow colour, then it can be artificial colour.
Common adulterants: Wax coating.
Check purity: Take an apple and slowly scrape its peel. If a white substance is coming out, then it’s wax! You can also check this by pouring hot water on apples.
So have a safer life by checking out the purity of the foods you eat in an adulterated world, and it would be better to go the traditional way and grind your masalas!