Nourishment, habiliment, and housing are the fundamental needs of human beings. Human beings definitely could not exist without proper nourishment.
The metabolism of human beings necessitates eating food to ensure they are alive and functioning optimally. However, food should be hygienic and healthy and contain essential nutrients for proper growth and development.
In the blind pursuit of profits, food suppliers adulterate and pollute food. Such adulterated foods leave lasting side effects on human health. Therefore, over the years, the quality of food has depleted. As a result, legal authorities had to step up to ensure the availability of unadulterated food by eradicating food adulteration. With the promise of hygienic food, the The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act was enacted.
Table of Contents
What is Food Adulteration
Food is adulterated when mixed with adulterants or when its organic balance or value is altered. During such adulteration, the harmful effect of tampering with food on human health is blatantly ignored, and they conduct such illicit activity blatantly.
The government is focusing efforts on improving literacy on the dangers of food adulteration. Adulteration is widely practised in our nation. Numerous approaches are used in the food industry to adulterate food using various chemical and synthetic ingredients.
Adulteration is a legal infraction. Food is considered adulterated when it cannot fulfil legal requirements imposed by the government. Food adulteration occurs when chemicals that weaken the nutrition levels of food purposely or accidentally are introduced to it. Thus, food adulteration could be explained as the contamination or pollution of food or food products by adding dangerous chemicals.
Types of Food Frauds
Food adulteration may be classified into the following four forms:
Deliberate spoilage occurs when ingredients resembling food are added to it to raise its weight and profit. This can be done by mixing pebbles, stones, marbles, sand, muck, filth, chalk powder, polluted water, and other similar substances.
Incidental adulteration or accidental spoilage happens as a result of carelessness when handling food. Pesticide residue in cereals, larval development, the presence of rat droppings in food grains, and so forth are instances of such spoilage.
Adulterating the food by adding metallic elements such as lead or mercury results in metallic spoilage of food. Metallic poisoning could happen by chance or on purpose.
Packing materials used to pack the food may react with food and are mixed with the ingredients of food, which result in packaging risks.
Methodology of Food Adulteration
Food adulteration can be performed as follows:
Sand, dust, clay, muck, and pebbles are mixed with bits of food.
Some essential ingredients are replaced with cheaper and lower-quality ingredients, altering the nutritional content of the meal and posing a health risk.
Mixing Decayed Material
This strategy suggested combining decomposed food with nutritious foods. Food that conceals any kind of harm or inferiority is tainted. Furthermore, the purposeful mixing of nutritious food with doubtful grade food results in an adulterated end product.
Addition of Hazardous Substances
Hazardous substances are toxic chemicals, colours, dyes, or unauthorised preservatives often added in food to accentuate revenues and sales, leading to food adulteration.
False advertising includes changing the manufacture dates, expiry dates, ingredient list, or deceptive ingredient derivatives, among other things.
Addition of chemicals to fruits and vegetables to hasten the ripening process is termed food adulteration. For example, mango is ripened with carbide to suit manufacturing capacity against supply.
Reasons for Practising Food Adulteration
For ages, we have witnessed the adulteration of milk by mixing water to enhance its volume and benefit from a less volume of milk. Similarly, for a myriad of purposes, food adulteration is practised by food producers and enterprises. These reasons include the following:
- Used as a business strategy, food adulteration accentuates profits by incorporating less expensive techniques.
- Furthermore, it makes the dish look appealing and tempting to raise its demand.
- Adulteration raises the weight of the product, allowing for more profit and cheaper sales.
- The booming population also plays a pivotal role in food adulteration.
- Government measures have been ineffective in curbing food adulteration.
Consequences of Food Adulteration
Nutrition tampering considerably affects human health. Regardless of food adulteration, chronic ingestion of this sort of food is extremely damaging to the system. Consuming such foods raises the toxicity levels in the body. The nutritional content of contaminated food decreases.
The addition of chemical adulterants and pigments is frequently lethal. Because they are ‘carcinogens’ and pose a risk to one’s health, some tainted food may also directly impact our internal organs, resulting in heart, kidney, liver, and other organ diseases and failure.
Adulterants are compounds that, when added to food, reduce their value. Adulterants are chemicals present in other foods that degrade the inherent quality of the food. Adulterants may be in any form or amount.
Adulterants are usually toxic and have the potential to reduce the efficacy of a substance. Even if the adulterant is not dangerous, it considerably diminishes the meal’s nutritional benefits. Many adulterants are used to contaminate food. Some adulterants are carcinogenic or can cause fatality when subjected to long-term exposure or ingestion.
Common Adulterants in India
According to a 2012 FSSAI research conducted across 33 states, milk in India is tainted with diluted water, detergent, fat, and even urea. Water, chalk, urea, caustic soda, and skimmed milk are some of the adulterants used in milk, whereas paper, refined oil, and skimmed milk powder are used in Khoya.
The degree of food adulteration in milk is hazardous on several levels, with the most significant risk of causing gastrointestinal issues.
Tea and Coffee
Tea and coffee are popular beverages in India, and as a result, they are often contaminated. Tea leaves are commonly tainted with the same colour leaves, and some may not even be edible. Several incidences of liver illness have been reported as a result of ingesting tainted tea.
Coffee seeds are contaminated with tamarind seeds, mustard seeds, and chicory. The primary cause of diarrhoea is due to these adulterants.
Food cereals like wheat are often polluted with ergot, a fungus comprising toxic materials with everlasting harmful health effects.
Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables and fruits rich in colours and shiny textures are a result of frequent colouring with various dyes and chemicals. These veggies are contaminated with malachite green, a hazardous chemical colour.
Oxytocin saccharin, wax, calcium carbide, and copper sulphate are common adulterants in fruits and vegetables.
Silver used as a culinary additive in India must be 99.9% pure, according to Indian standards. However, because silver is getting more costly, many sweet shop owners use silver vark, containing aluminium. The most common ingredients used to make these sweets are khoya and chenna, and they are frequently laced with starch. Such food adulteration can be detected by boiling a tiny sample in water, cooling it, and subsequently adding a few drops of the iodine solution.
The presence of a blue tint indicates the presence of starch. Furthermore, sugar used to produce these sweets may be tainted with tar pigment, exacerbating the situation.
Several honey variations currently on the market. However, because of its high price, honey is frequently contaminated with caramelised sugar to enhance its taste.
As shown in a study by the Centre for Science and Environment, most honey brands available in the nation contain various levels of antibiotics. Their intake over time may result in antibiotic resistance, blood-related diseases, and liver damage.
Arhar dal is the most widely contaminated dal, and it is generally adulterated with metanil yellow. Metanil yellow is a major non-permitted food colour that is widely used in India. Long-term ingestion of metanil yellow produces neurotoxicity in the developing and adult brains.
When exposed to natural or manmade hazardous chemicals, the normal function of the nervous system is altered, and the nerve tissue is damaged.
Metanil yellow is used as a colouring adulterant in dal. Its concentration in dal may be determined by adding a few drops of HCl to a test sample; if the solution becomes pink, then metanil yellow is present.
The most prevalent adulterants in Asafoetida are soapstone or other earthy substances and foreign resin. Because they are almost identical in size yet tasteless, papaya seeds and blackberries are the most popular adulterants used in black pepper (sometimes bitter). Red chilli powder is contaminated with brick powder, salt powder, talc powder, and artificial colours such as Sudan Red.
The world’s most costly spice coloured dried tendrils of maize cob are used to adulterate saffron.
Food Safety Standards Supervisors
Food is supervised to guarantee its safety for human nutrition. Food regulatory rules aid in establishing credible norms of disclosure, allowing people to understand what is added to their food and make educated decisions about what they consume. The codification of food safety standards also assures the consumer that food is fit for consumption.
Under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare formed the Food Safety and Security Authority of India (FSSAI) to monitor nutritional and biological food standards and manufacture, processing, warehousing, circulation, import and distribution to assure nutritional content.
The bill was enacted to provide a unified food quality framework for various food goods.
With the enactment of the Food Security and Standards Act, 2006, acts such as ‘Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947, Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order 1988, Solvent Extracted Oil, De-Oiled Meal and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967’, were repealed.
Duties of FSSAI
Prevention of food adulteration is the sole objective of FSSAI. To fulfil its said objective, it performs the following functions:
- Guidelines were drafted to spell out rules and requirements regarding food goods and an acceptable framework was identified for policing the different criteria getting notified.
- Developing processes and rules for the accreditation of certification organisations in food industry safety management systems certification.
- Establishing procedures and criteria for laboratory validation and notification of accredited laboratories.
- To furnish scientific, technical assistance, and training to the Central and State Governments for developing policies and laws affecting food safety and nutrition.
- Research and compile data on food intake, the incidence and prevalence of biological risk, pollutants in food, developing dangers, and the implementation of a quick warning system.
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954 was enacted to create provisions for the prevention and control of adulteration in India. Food adulteration is characterised by the accumulation or removal of any material from or into food, altering the natural content and quality of food items. Adulteration is done with disregard to the human health on consumption of the food item. Any item that is or may be used for adulteration is considered an adulterant.
Complaint Against Food Adulteration
A three-tier Complaint Redressal System looks after the complaints filed against the adulteration of food. The consumer redressal procedure is as follows:
- The First Tier: The trader or producer from whom a consumer bought food or drink for consumption.
- The Second Tier: The local health authority of the district or the state/union territory commissioner of food safety.
- The Third Tier: Consumer Forum i
- Finally, consumers can complain through the ‘Advertising Standards Council of India‘ portal.
Penalties For Food Adulteration
If a manufacturer sells, distributes, imports, or stores any adulterated food article, he is legally culpable under Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, 1954 and can be imprisoned for six months and a fine of Rs 1000 under Section 272 of the Indian Penal Code for selling adulterated food or drink that is hazardous for health consumption.
The penalty for food adulteration may be increased based on the gravity of the manufacturer’s or vendor’s actions.
Food is the basic necessity for human beings. Living beings require healthy and hygienic food for proper growth and evolution. To fulfil such a basic need living beings depend upon food suppliers. Sometimes, food suppliers supply polluted food. Such a practice is known as food adulteration.
Food adulteration started because the greed to generate profits surpassed the necessity of human health. Food pollution has lasting side effects on human health and may turn out fatal in some instances.
Therefore, polluting the nutritional value of food by adding adulterants is a despicable act and can result in several health problems. As consumers, we must be informed of what we are consuming. The regulations in India concerning food adulteration encourage people to take action against people practising food adulteration.
FAQs on Food Adulteration
The practise of food adulteration violates which fundamental right of consumers?
Food adulteration violates the right to Protection of Life and Personal Liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
What are the examples of highly adulterated foods in India?
Milk is the highly adulterated food in India. Next, tea leaves and honey are also heavily polluted.
Food fraud is penalised under which act?
Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, 1954, section 272 and 273 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 penalises food fraud.
Who was first to acknowledge food tampering?
Frederick Accum, a German scientist, was the first to explore the use of adulterants in food and drink in 1820 when he discovered various poisonous metal colourings in food and drink.