February 22, 2024

Adulteration of foods

Adulteration of foods

What is Food adulteration?

Adulteration of food is commonly defined as “the addition or subtraction of any substance to or from food so that the natural composition and quality of food substance is affected”
Food adulteration includes mixing, substitution, concealing the quality, putting up decomposed food for sale, misbranding or giving false labels and addition of toxicants

Food adulteration includes

A substance is added which depreciates or injuriously affects it.

Cheaper or inferior substances are substituted wholly or in part.

Any valuable or necessary constituent has been wholly or in part abstracted.

It is an imitation.

It is coloured or otherwise treated, to improve its appearance or if it contains any added substance injurious to health.

For whatever reasons its quality is below the Standard

What is Intentional adulteration?

1. Incidental Adulteration
2. Metallic Adulteration
3. Done for financial gain.
4. Addition of Sand, marble chips, stones, mud, other filth, talc, chalk powder, water, mineral oil and harmful colour..
5. Happen due to carelessness and lack in proper hygienic conditions of processing, storage, transportation and marketing. eg: Pesticide residues, droppings of rodents, larvae in foods.
6. Occurs due to Arsenic from pesticides, lead from water, effluent from chemical industries, tin from cans.

Food adulteration has become a very common practice in our country and we are consuming these foods almost every day, which have numerous harmful effects on our health. The usage of adulterants has increased in societies because of few legal controls on food quality and/or poor/nonexistent monitoring by authorities. It frequently occurs where informal food production and marketing services are predominant and enforcement of food regulation is weak.  Food adulteration is unethical and called a SOCIAL EVIL and A SLOW POISON.

Ways of Food Adulteration


Complete or partial replacement of a food ingredient or valuable authentic constituent with a less expensive substitute with the intention of circumventing on “origin” and false declaration of the “process”.


Addition of small amounts of non-authenticated substances to mask inferior quality ingredients.


Removal of authentic and valuable constituents without purchasers’ knowledge Food Adulterations Categories


Ghee essence is used in cheaper oils and passed off as pure ghee. This type of ghee will not solidify like normal ghee. It may also not have that grainy texture of pure ghee

Oleomargarine or lard ( Animal fat) – added to butter

Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or other starch is added to ghee

Argemone seeds and agremone oil

Mineral oil also added to edible oil

Chalk powder, Washing soda, Plastic crystals, Urea, White/ Yellow colour, Rawa/ Suji, Stones etc

Health effects due to Adulterants

 Cancer or acute renal failure.

The argemone oil used to adulterate ghee and butter is highly toxic.

It causes a disease known as dropsy,( Fluid collection in some parts of the body).

It may also paralyse the limbs.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been established under Food Safety and Standards, 2006

It is under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India.

FSSAI has been created for laying down science-based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure the availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

It aims to establish a single reference point for all matters relating to food safety and standards, by moving from multi-level, multi- departmental control to a single line of command.

It consolidates various acts & orders that have hitherto handled food-related issues in various Ministries and Departments.

MCQ on Adulteration of foods

  1. What is food adulteration?
    a) Adding excess nutrients to food
    b) Intentionally adding harmful substances to food
    c) Mixing different types of foods together
    d) None of the above
  2. Which of the following is a common motive behind food adulteration?
    a) Increasing the shelf life of food products
    b) Enhancing the nutritional value of food
    c) Ensuring food safety and quality
    d) Economic gain by cheating consumers
  3. Which of the following is an example of intentional adulteration?
    a) Adding artificial coloring to fruits
    b) Adding sand or gravel to ground spices
    c) Using non-food grade packaging materials
    d) Adding preservatives to extend shelf life
  4. Which of the following is a health risk associated with food adulteration?
    a) Nutritional deficiencies
    b) Foodborne illnesses
    c) Allergic reactions
    d) Obesity
  5. How can one detect the adulteration of milk?
    a) By checking its color and consistency
    b) By conducting a chemical test
    c) By assessing its taste and smell
    d) All of the above
  6. Which of the following is a common adulterant found in edible oils?
    a) Sawdust
    b) Urea
    c) Starch
    d) All of the above
  7. Which government agency is responsible for regulating and preventing food adulteration in many countries?
    a) World Health Organization (WHO)
    b) Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
    c) United Nations (UN)
    d) European Union (EU)
  8. Which of the following is a method to prevent food adulteration?
    a) Ensuring proper food storage and hygiene practices
    b) Conducting regular food testing and inspections
    c) Raising public awareness about food safety
    d) All of the above
  9. Which type of food is commonly adulterated with synthetic colors?
    a) Fruits and vegetables
    b) Dairy products
    c) Spices and condiments
    d) Meat and poultry
  10. Which of the following is a legal consequence for individuals or businesses involved in food adulteration?
    a) Fines and penalties
    b) Product recall
    c) License revocation
    d) All of the above


  1. b) Intentionally adding harmful substances to food
  2. d) Economic gain by cheating consumers
  3. a) Adding artificial coloring to fruits
  4. b) Foodborne illnesses
  5. d) All of the above
  6. d) All of the above
  7. b) Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  8. d) All of the above
  9. c) Spices and condiments
  10. d) All of the above

Suggested readings:

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