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Food Adulteration: Definition, Practices, and Prevention

The FSSAI has submitted proposed modifications to the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSS), which was approved in 2006, but the rules were not notified until 2011. The FSSAI has recommended a new section to crack down on food adulteration as one of the key amendments.

Shivani Meena
An illustration representing adulteration in Food Item
An illustration representing adulteration in Food Item

An Overview

Food is necessary for survival. We all eat food to obtain energy for various metabolic tasks. All living creatures require food for growth, function, repair, and maintenance of life processes. 

There are several sorts of food accessible on the market today, and we all rely on diverse food sources regularly, comprising vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, lentils, and so on. 

We may have come across tiny stones in cereals and grains, darkly stained vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli, fruits, dark red meat, and a variety of other items while shopping for fresh vegetables and other foods. This is all due to food adulteration. 

What Is Food Adulteration? 

Food adulteration is described as the activity of adulterating food or contaminating food materials by adding a few compounds known as adulterants. 

One of today's significant issues is the adulteration or contamination of natural food products. Despite numerous actions and penalties, adding adulterants is a frequent practice in developing countries. Natural products can be adulterated in a variety of ways. Every product contains adulteration. It starts with the daily groceries and progresses to our life-saving medicines. 

Food that fits any of these criteria is considered adulterated: 

  • Contains a toxic or harmful chemical: For example, if Listeria is discovered in a batch of Brie cheese, it is termed adulterated. The only exceptions are if the adulteration occurs naturally or if the amounts are so low that they do not endanger public health.

  • Contains a poisonous or deleterious material that has been introduced

  • Exists in a container that contains a dangerous or harmful chemical in part or in full: This might be deliberate or unintended.

  • Contains any potentially hazardous chemical or pesticide residue: Any chemicals or pesticides that are safe for human contact and/or eating are not regarded as adulterated. 

The worst aspect is that certain Adulterated food can lead to cancer, the most lethal disease. In addition, several pregnant women who drank such adulterated food had miscarriages as a result of poor fetal development, and in some severe cases, the women died while giving birth. 

Why is food adulteration practiced? 

Contaminating food or adding to food components is a typical phenomenon in underdeveloped nations. 

For example, milk may be diluted by adding water to increase its amount, and starch powder is frequently added to enhance its solid content. 

The following are the most common reasons for food adulteration: 


  • As part of a business strategy.

  • An imitation of another food substance.

  • Inadequate understanding of healthy dietary consumption.

  • to enhance food production and sales

  • Increased food demand due to a fast-rising population.

  • Making the most profit from food while investing the least amount of money.

How can Food Adulteration be prevented? 

Food adulteration is a societal threat, and perpetrators must be held accountable. 

The central government, for its part, is doing everything it can to keep this "crime" under control. In India, the ministry of health and family welfare is solely responsible for ensuring that individuals have access to safe food. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954 established criteria for providing consumers with pure and wholesome foods. The Act was last revised in 1986 to make penalties more severe and to further empower consumers. However, the government intends to impose harsher punishment now. 

People must use extreme caution while buying items from retailers and shopping centers. They should look for standards such as the ISI standard mark, the Agmark for quality products, the FSSAI standard mark, the date of packaging and the date of expiry, and so on. If none of the required standard markings are present, people should avoid purchasing such things entirely. 

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