Why is Food Adulterated?

Food adulteration is prevalent across India and the World. Food adulteration could be accidental (incidental) or intentional. In certain areas across the world, the water inherently contains toxic metals such as Lead, Arsenic and Mercury, and this could be incidentally transferred to the vegetables and fruits being grown or even washed. The food we consume is sometimes intentionally adulterated for various reasons. One such case is when chemicals are added to Milk to enhance volume and storage time.

There are several reasons for food being adulterated.

1. Financial:Profit seems to be the major motive for Food Adulteration. Addition of cheaper food such as water to milk and mineral and palm oil to olive oil increases the volume of the product and hence more income from selling the Adulterated Food

2. Demand and Supply gap: The demand for milk is ever growing across the world. To fill this gap, unscrupulous people have added water, urea, detergents, formalin, melamine etc. to milk and are sold to the unsuspecting consumers and businesses

3. Storage duration: Fish decays quickly and incidents of Formalin, a cancer-causing chemical being injected to increase the shelf life have been reported.

4. Attractiveness of food: An Apple is waxed to enhance its appeal to the buyer.

Apples are shined with wax!

5. Systemic check failure: E. Coli, a bacteria infects leafy green vegetables, causes food poisoning and frequently is in news. Lettuce is grown by millions of farmers and goes through several processors, manufacturing plants, retailers and it is daunting to have systemic checks at every stage of supply chain.

6. Cross-contamination: Different foods are processed in the same processing plants, and this could lead to adulteration.

7. Natural Causes: The pulses, cereals and vegetables when harvested from the fields, invariably pick up mud and stones. This gets passed on to the consumers in spite of multiple cleansing processes.

8. Unavailability of affordable methods of testing:Most of the current methods of testing require expensive lab instruments and the tests are expensive. The cost of a test for metanil yellow and lead chromate adulteration in Turmeric is in thousands of rupees and this limits the ability of businesses and consumers to test every source of turmeric.

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