10 health hazards resulting from intentional adulterant

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1. Sand, marble chips, earth and other filth, may be found in food grains, spices, pulses, These can break the teeth or have an adverse effect on the soft lining of the digestive tract. Filth in any form is a health hazard as it can harbour millions of disease bearing bacteria.

2. Talc stone and chalk powder are usually found in wheat flour and spices, Talc is hydrated magnesium silicate. Sand stone, mud, earth are also silicates which the human system cannot digest. Other than this, they impair the normal smooth functioning of the digestive system in various ways. They may give rise to stomach cancer. Excessive lime is found in dry ginger. It makes the gastric lining rough and dry. Excessive salt is present in ready to use spices, chat masala and curry powder, because it is cheaper and increases the weight and margin of profit.

3. Starch is added to barfi and other khoya preparations. Pro­vided the starch is pure and wholesome there is no health hazard. When it is coloured with toxic pigments like head chromate, it is harmful.

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4. Water and excess moisture are added to milk, curd, paneer and other foods. This is an age-old practice and deprives the consumer of his money’s worth. There is no health hazard unless the water is filthy and unhygienic. In case the water is contaminated it can cause disturbance of the gastro-intestinal tract.

(5) Sugar and Chemicals. If sugar is added in pure form to honey then no health is involved. It will still be said to be adulterated as it is intended to mislead the consumer. Toxic sweeteners like cyclamates, dulcine or saccharin may be present where not permitted as in sweetmeats or in excess of the permissible amount. Fruit are injected with saccharine to make them more sweet in taste.

Additives.

They are flavouring, colourings, preservative, anti-toxicants, emulsifying and stabilizing agents, antimicrobial agents. The amount of additives in food should be the minimum necessary to produce the desired effect. If more is added, it can give rise to carcinogenic effects.

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6. Asbestos is often used in filtering fruit juice and soft drinks. It is a natural fibrous silicate. It has been found that these fibres which are very fine and can only be seen through an electron microscope, are present in clear juices. These are known to cause gastro intestinal cancer.

7. Rancid oil. Sometimes oils which have become rancid (old) are sold in the same state or mixed with good oil, to mask the unpleasant odour. Thus foodstuffs cooked in this oil lose their vitamin content.

8. Mineral oil mixed with edible oil when taken in sufficient quantity cause gastro intestinal disturbances and vomiting. Mineral oils are petroleum derivatives and are much cheaper than edible oil. Small amounts interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A.

10. Argemone seeds are mixed with mustard seeds. The seeds have proved to be dangerously toxic in the form of oil and seeds. The toxic factors are due to two alkaloids. Argemone seeds are the most common adulterant used these days. These are obtained from argemone Mexicans (the yellow flowered poppy plant with bluish silver-veined leaves). The seeds closely resemble mustard seeds in appearance although their surface is rough and uneven. The only difference is that the argemone seeds have a little tail at one end.

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