Food adulteration. Everybody has heard about it. We have read numerous articles online and in the local Daily about the police confiscating x and y quantities of adulterated fish or milk or other food items. Is food adulteration as simple as adding water to milk to increase the quantity, or something more? Something more nefarious?
Food adulteration is defined as the act or process of intentionally or willingly degrading the quality of food items offered for sale either by the addition or substitution of inferior substances or by the removal of some valuable ingredient/s to increase the shelf life or to make it look more appealing in the eyes of the prospective customer. With retailers and sellers eyeing profit over quality, the cases of adulteration in food has increased multi-fold over the last decade.
Food Contamination is food that has been corrupted by another substance intentionally or unintentionally. This could be
- Physical contamination, which is when a foreign object contaminates food. This can happen at any stage of the production process and include Band-Aids, steel, wool or pieces of plastic.
- Biological contaminants are produced by humans, rodents, insects or microorganisms.
- Chemical contaminants may be natural or artificial such as chemical substance like pesticides
The Epidemiology of the Problem
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has found a consistent increase in food adulteration cases in the country over the past few years.
As per a report by ET, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan, stated that between 2016-17 and 2018-19, about 8,100 people were convicted for committing such offences and food safety authorities across the states had collected nearly ₹ 43.65 crore worth fine from the offenders. Tests were carried out on the parameters set by the FSSAI. 20,000 out of the total 65,000 samples failed the test in 2018-19. During 2017-18, over 24,000 samples out of 99,000 did not conform to the norms and during 2016-17, the number of failed samples was more than 18,000 out of the total 78,000 that were tested.