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Most Common Food Adulterants and Harmful Effects Of Food Adulteration

Whether it’s adulterated olive oil, ash in pepper, chalk in flour, or diluted coffee beans, food adulteration is  increasingly a reality of our lives. In fact, commonly consumed food items such as dal, rice, spices, oil, butter and ghee are often targeted by fraudsters. Consumption of such food items over a long term can have serious implications on one’s health.

The most commonly adulterated foods include milk and milk products, atta (wheat flour), dal (pulses), oils (all cooking oils such as mustard oil and olive oil), ghee, cereals, spices, pulses, coffee, honey, etc. The table here highlights dangerous adulterants found commonly in food stuff.

Source: Adulteration in Food Stuff and Its Harmful Effects, Greater Chennai Corporation 

Adulteration of Fruits and Vegetables

Harmful chemical items are known to be added to fruits and vegetables to enhance their appearance, taste and production.

Beyond Food Fraudulence and Adulteration

At times, ingredients in the food items are mentioned in a tricky manner. They are mentioned as ‘less popular names’. As per Indian food laws, this is not classified as adulteration. However, by being aware about such practices, consumers can make informed food choices. For example: most of the chocolate bars sold in India do not have cocoa, a primary ingredient needed for making chocolates. They are in fact made with hydrogenated vegetable oils. Many coffee brands in India add chicory leaves to the coffee. This is done to reduce the price, coffee being an expensive commodity. Addition of chicory in coffee is legally allowed and is known to have no serious adverse effects on health, although some people may be allergic to it. Its presence is clearly mentioned on the coffee pack and consumers must make an informed food choice. Many ice-cream brands in India are frozen desserts – that is, they are not made from milk but from vegetable fats. This is done to reduce the production cost.

Comparative Product Testing of Food Products done by Consumer VOICE

Consumer VOICE regularly tests food products to check the authenticity of purity claims of various brands.  Tests are done at NABL accredited labs as per the specifications and parameters defined by FSS Regulations and India Standards. Comparative Product Testing reports give you the actual values of energy, protein, calcium, iodine, vitamins, fatty acids, moisture and much more. Presence of insoluble impurities, foreign matter and adulteration is also reported. You will also find the safer limits of each parameter. Basis the tests, Consumer VOICE experts suggest the Best brands along with Value for Money.  For detailed Comparative Product Testing methodology, click here.

Test Reports of:

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Divya Patwal


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