By Shabnum Showket
Food adulteration refers to the practice of intentionally adding inferior, harmful, or less expensive substances to food products, which makes that food product fail to meet the legal standards. Adulteration can occur at any stage of food processing, production, or distribution. Consuming adulterated food can cause food poisoning, gastrointestinal problems, and even death.
Food adulteration is a serious problem in many parts of the world, and in Jammu and Kashmir, food adulteration has been a longstanding issue, with reports of adulterated food products being sold in markets and shops across the region. Jammu and Kashmir stands third among the northern states in food adulteration, with 19.4 percent of samples of processed foods failing to meet the norms of the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act.
Some of the commonly adulterated food products in Jammu and Kashmir include milk and milk products, spices, grains, oils, and sweets, as well as the addition of harmful chemicals and reservatives to extend the shelf life of food products. In addition, food packaging and labelling can also be misleading or inaccurate, which can mislead consumers about the contents and quality of the food they are buying. One of the most common types of food adulteration in Jammu and Kashmir is the adulteration of milk and milk products. Milk is often adulterated with water, starch, and other additives to increase its volume and make it appear more nutritious. The consumption of adulterated milk and milk products can lead to several health issues, such as food poisoning, stomach infections, and even chronic diseases.
Quick Detection Test: For detection of water in milk, put a drop of milk on a polished vertical surface. The drop of pure milk either stops or flows slowly, leaving a white trail behind it. Whereas milk adulterated with water will flow immediately without leaving a mark. And for the detection of detergents in milk Take 5 to 10 ml of the sample with an equal amount of water and shake the contents thoroughly. If milk is adulterated with detergent, it forms a dense lather.
Pure milk will form a very thin foam layer due to agitation.
Another common form of food adulteration in Jammu and Kashmir is the adulteration of spices. Spices such as turmeric, red chilli powder, and coriander powder are often adulterated with cheaper materials such as sawdust, brick powder, and even animal waste.
The consumption of adulterated spices can cause stomach infections, liver damage, and even cancer.
Quick Detection Test: Sprinkle on the water surface. Powdered bran and sawdust float on the surface.
In addition to milk and spices, there have been reports of adulteration in other food products such as edible oils, pulses, and grains. Adulteration of edible oils with cheaper oils such as palm oil and cottonseed oil can lead to heart disease and other health issues. Pulses and grains are often adulterated with sand, stones, and other impurities that can cause damage to teeth and digestive organs.
Quick detection test: take a teaspoon of rice on a glass plate. Sprinkle a small amount of soaked lime (commonly known aschunna,” which is used in pan) on the rice grains. Pure grains will not form a red colour. Adulterated grains will have a red colour. Take a transparent glass of water. Add 2 teaspoons of food grains and mix thoroughly. Pure food grains will not leave any colour. Adulterated food grains leave colour immediately in water.
The government of Jammu and Kashmir has taken steps to combat food adulteration, such as setting up food testing laboratories and conducting regular inspections of food establishments. In addition, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has also been working to improve food safety standards across the country, including in Jammu and Kashmir.
Despite these efforts, food adulteration continues to be a problem in Jammu and Kashmir, and consumers should remain vigilant and take precautions to ensure the food they consume is safe and free from harmful substances. Some of these precautions include purchasing food products from reputable sources, checking for proper labelling and packaging, and being aware of common adulterants and their effects on health. The government and citizens need to work together to ensure that food products are safe for consumption and that those involved in food adulteration are brought to justice.
Shabnum Showkat is pursuing a Mtech in Food Process Engineering in the Division of Food Science and Technology at SKUAST K.
Disclaimer : (The views expressed in the article are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of the Kashmir Despatch.)