Adulteration in Foods

What is Adulteration?

Adulteration refers to mixing other matter of an inferior and sometimes harmful quality with food or drink intended to be sold. As a result of adulteration, food or drink becomes impure and unfit for human consumption.

A food item is said to be adulterated if:

  • A substance which is added is injurious for human consumption.
  • An inferior substance substitutes wholly or partly.

Types of Adulterants

  • Intentional adulterants like colouring agents, starch, dyes and others.
  • Incidental adulterants like pesticide residues, larvae in foods, droppings of rodents.
  • Metallic contaminants like lead, arsenic, effluent from chemical industries etc.
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Bee’s honey is one of the most valued and appreciated natural substances known to mankind since ancient times. And it is often adulterated, meaning it is mixed with glucose solutions or low-quality honeys with a high water content.

Test for purity

Method 1

Take a tablespoon of honey and put it in a glass of water. If the honey dissolves, then it is not pure. Pure honey should stay together as a solid when submerged in water.


Ghee is a class of clarified butter which is prepared by simmering butter, which is churned from cream (traditionally made by churning yogurt).


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Test for Purity

Method 1
Put a spoon of ghee on your palm, if it starts to melt itself that is pure. Normally, pure ghee melts on the body temperature.
Method 2
Put a spoon of ghee and heat it. If it melts quickly and appear dark brownish color, that is pure ghee. Within a few seconds, the ghee will be melted. If it takes a longer time to melt and appear light yellow in color, it is impure.
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Milk is most commonly diluted with water, this not only reduces its nutritional value, but contaminated water can also cause additional health problems.

Purity Test

The presence of water can be done by putting a drop of milk on a polished slanting surface. The drop of pure milk leaves a trail behind it, while adulterated milk will flow immediately without leaving a mark.

Tea Powder

Adulterants are generally added to tea to reduce manufacturing costs, sell it at a higher price, or deceive the consumer in some other way.

Purity test

Sprinkle a teaspoon of tea powder on a moist blotting paper. If the colour of the blotting paper changes to something similar to yellow, orange or red, it indicates the presence of artificial colour in the tea powder.

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Turmeric Powder

Turmeric powder is a bright yellow powder made by dry grinding of mature turmeric rhizomes. So how can you check if the turmeric powder you bought is really pure turmeric?

Purity Test

Add a teaspoon of turmeric to a glass of warm water. Do not stir it and leave it still for a while. Check after about 20 minutes. If the powder settles down at the bottom of the glass with clear water above, the turmeric is pure. Cloudy water indicates possible adulteration.

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