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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Food Adulteration

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Most often we hear about food adulteration. Earlier, there were reports of milk- adulteration in our city. What is food-adulteration?

Well, mixing of undesirable, cheap and often harmful substances in our food items is called as Food Adulteration.
Some greedy traders use to mix unwanted substances into our food items so as to cheat the public and earn more money. These unwanted substances are called as adulterants. The practice of mixing of unwanted substances in food items is harmful and sometimes fatal to consumers.

In 2000, some greedy traders mixed the oil of Argemone mexicana seeds in the mustard oil to earn more money and sold it to consumers. The consumption of Argemone oil mixed with mustard oil caused Dropsy in consumers and killed hundreds of them. Dropsy is a serious disease which occurs due to consumption of Argemone oil. Here is a table which details some of the edible items and adulterants usually mixed into them.

Argemone mexicana

S. No.
Edible Substances
Pulses of Lathyrus sativus (Grass Pea), metanil yellow colour
Turmeric Powder
Lead chromate
Coriander Powder
Powder of dried dung of Cow or Horse, starch
Black Pepper
Dried seeds of Papaya
Red Chilli Powder
Brick-powder, powder of wood
Powder of dried dung, wood powder
Edible Oil
Cheap Oils, Oil of Argemone seeds
Fat, starch, water
Powders of smooth white
Pebbles, husk

Food Adulteration is a punishable crime under Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act 1954(amended in 1964, 1976 and 1986). It has been enacted to ensure the availability of pure and standard food to consumers and to protect them from deceptive trade practices.

The prevention of food Adulteration Act prohibits manufacture; sale and distribution of adulterated foods and foods contaminated with toxicants and if it is misbranded.

Food is deemed to be adulterated if-

(a) The article sold by a vendor is not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser and it is represented to be.
(b) It contains any other substance or is processed as to affect its original nature and cause harm to consumers.
(c)  Any inferior or cheaper substance have been substituted wholly or in part of the article.
(d)  It is prepared, packed or kept under unsanitary conditions.
(e) Consists of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance or is insect infested or otherwise unfit for human consumption.
(f) It contains any poisonous or other ingredients injurious to health.
(g) It contains any colouring material other than prescribed and in amounts not within the prescribed limit.

Food Adulteration occurs in rural as well as urban areas. So the first option is to buy branded and ISI-marked products. Even if these branded items cost a little extra, it is worth paying the extra amount to safe guard your health. If you have purchased any branded item and doubt its quality, you can at least approach the company concerned. We must always remember to preserve our grocery bills so that the company can take necessary steps regarding the complaint

If any person manufactures for sale, stores, sells, imports or distributes any article of food which is adulterated or misbranded, he is liable under the PFA Act to be punished with imprisonment and fined. If we find that any food is adulterated, then we should not remain silent. We should complain to Prevention of Food Adulteration Department in our city / town / district and report to the newspapers and make more and more people aware to take joint action.

Key Words : edible oil, Argemone,  food, adulteration

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