Among man’s everyday needs, food plays a major sustaining role. From the simple dish to the most elaborate haute cuisine, food preparation is as varied and rich as man’s taste. The lure of riches and general apathy towards mankind has led to adulterants being added to food from the simple stones in rice to the more harmful brick and boric powder.
Adulteration of food commonly defined as “the addition or subtraction of any substance to or from food, so that the natural composition and quality of food substance is affected". Adulteration is either intentional by either removing substances to food or altering the existing natural properties of food knowingly. Unintentional adulteration is usually attributed to ignorance’s, carelessness or lack of facilities for maintaining food quality. Incidental contamination during the period of growth, harvesting, storage, processing, transport and distribution of foods are also considered.
“Adulterant” means any material which is or could be employed for making the food unsafe or sub-standard or mis-branded or containing extraneous matter.
Food is declared adulterated if:
Adulterated food is dangerous because it may be toxic and can affect health and it could deprive nutrients essential for proper growth and development.
Some of the common adulterated foods are milk and milk products, atta, edible oils, cereals, condiments (whole and ground), pulses, coffee, tea, confectionary, baking powder, non - alcoholic beverages, vinegar, besan and curry powder.
|Intentional Adulterants||Sand, marble chips, stones, mud, other filth, talc, chalk powder, water, mineral oil and harmful colour.|
|Incidental adulterants||Pesticide residues, droppings of rodents, larvae in foods.|
|Metallic contaminants||Arsenic from pesticides, lead from water, effluent from chemical industries, tin from cans.|
Generally, if a food contains a poisonous or deleterious substance that may render it injurious to health, it is adulterated. For example, apple cider contaminated with E.coli O157:H7 and Brie cheese contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes are adulterated.
If a food contains a poisonous substance in excess of a tolerance, regulatory limit, or action level, mixing it with "clean" food to reduce the level of contamination is not allowed. The deliberate mixing of adulterated food with good food renders the finished product adulterated
Filth and extraneous material include any objectionable substances in foods, such as foreign matter (for example, glass, metal, plastic, wood, stones, sand, cigarette butts), undesirable parts of the raw plant material (such as stems, pits in pitted olives, pieces of shell in canned oysters), and filth (namely, mold, rot, insect and rodent parts, excreta, decomposition.
A food is adulterated if it omits a valuable constituent or substitutes another substance, in whole or in part, for a valuable constituent (for instance, olive oil diluted with tea tree oil); conceals damage or inferiority in any manner (such as fresh fruit with food coloring on its surface to conceal defects); or any substance has been added to it or packed with it to increase its bulk or weight, reduce its quality or strength, or make it appear bigger or of greater value than it is (for example, scallops to which water has been added to make them heavier).
The fact that a food is contaminated with pathogens (harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or protozoa) may, or may not, render it adulterated. Generally, for ready -to-eat foods, the presence of pathogens will render the food adulterated. For example, the presence of Salmonella on fresh fruits or vegetables or in ready-to-eat meat or poultry products (such as luncheon meats) will render those products adulterated.
Ready -to- eat meat and poultry products contaminated with pathogens, such as Salmonella or Listeria monocytogenes, are adulterated. For raw meat or poultry products, the presence of pathogens will not always render a product adulterated (because raw meat and poultry products are intended to be cooked and proper cooking should kill pathogens).