New tool in consumers’ hands

Staff Reporter

A Delhi Govt. handbook to educate them on food adulteration

It suggests some quick tests to ascertain the purity of food items

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Government’s Directorate of Prevention of Food Adulteration has come out with a new handbook that aims at educating citizens against the most common forms of food adulteration.

The handbook offers consumers tips on how to run some quick tests to ascertain the purity of food items. Though the Directorate claims that the tests are not conclusive for the detection of adulterants, they have been devised to help consumer identify the presence of ingredients that can pose a threat to human health.

To help consumers detect vanaspati in butter or ghee, the handbook suggests mixing one teaspoon of these food items with an equal quantity of hydrochloric acid in a test tube. Add to it a pinch of cane sugar and leave it to stand after shaking it for a minute. Appearance of crimson colour shows the presence of vanaspati.

Similarly, to ascertain the presence of mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes in butter, a drop of iodine tincture can be used. If the iodine which is brown in colour turns blue, then it confirms the presence of adulteration in butter.

Health experts caution against the use of adulterated food items. For instance, the presence of argemone seeds in edible oils like mustard oil can result in epidemic dropsy, glaucoma and heart attack. Foreign leaves or exhausted tea leaves and saw dust in tea can lead to cancer, the handbook warns.

According to the handbook, the most commonly used adulterants include coal-tar colours in pickles and canned vegetables; anatta is used to make butter more yellow, aluminium leaves are used instead of silver leaves used to coat foods and sweets,

Brick powder, salt and talcum powder are used in chilli powder, coloured sawdust is mixed with turmeric and chicory is used in coffee, the handbook states.

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