Adulteration of Food Additives
Food additives are defined as non-nutritious substances which are
added intentionally to food generally in small quantity, to improve its appearance,
flavor, texture or storage properties.
Food additives may be classified into two categories. Additives of
the first category includes:
Coloring agents, e.g.
Flavoring agents, e.g.
e.g.ascorbic acid, sodium benzoate
agents, e.g. citric acid, acetic acid, etc.
These agents are generally considered safe for human consumption.
Additives of the “Second category” are, strictly speaking, contaminants
incidental through packing, processing steps, farming practices (insecticides)
or other environmental conditions.
Uncontrolled or indiscriminate use of food additives may pose
health hazards among consumers. For example, certain preservatives such as
nitrites and nitrates can lead to the production of toxic substance, e.g.
nitrosamines that have been implicated in cancer etiology.
Fortification of food is a public health measure aimed at
reinforcing the usual dietary intake of nutrients with additional supplies to
prevent / control some nutritional disorders.
WHO has defined “Food fortification” as the process whereby nutrients
are added to foods (in relatively small quantities) to maintain or improve the
quality of the diet of a group, a community or a population.” For example,
fortified with vitamin ‘D’ e.g. milk, margarine, Vanaspati and infant foods.
Foods fortified with
vitamin ‘A’ e.g. margarine, milk, Vanaspati.
Adulteration of food is an age – old problem. It is done through a
large number of practices:
Concealing the quality
Putting up decomposed
foods for sale
Giving false labels and
Addition of toxicants.
Food adulteration practices vary from one part of the country to
another, and from time to time.
The types of adulteration commonly found in India are as follows:
Addition of water,
removal of fat and addition of starch to make the milk thicker are the
common forms of milk adulteration.
This is adulterated with
dalda and animal fats such as pig’s fat.
and wheat: These are mixed with stone chips and mud to increase the
Wheat flour is mixed
with soap stone powder and cheaper flours such as singhada flour.
Chemical substances are
added to old stocks to improve the appearance.
and coffee: Tea leaves are adulterated with old tea leaves; leather and
saw dust, coffee is adulterated with chicory
This is adulterated with
sugar or jaggery and boiled with empty beehives.
Even drugs are
Any food that does not confirm to the minimum standards is said to
adulterated standards. Provisions have been laid down under this Act for various
In 1954, the Government of India enacted a Central Prevention of
Food Adulteration Act. The act has been amended several times, the latest
amendment is that of 1976 and in lately in 1986 to make the Act more stringent.
Although it is a Central Act, its implementation is largely
carried out by the local bodies and State Governments.
FAO/WHO formulates food standards for international market. Codex
Alimentarius commission which is the principal organ of the joint FAO/ WHO food
standards programme. The standards in India are based on the standards of the
Under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 standards have
been established which are revised from time to time by the “Central Committee
for Food standards”.
The purpose of PFA standards is to obtain a minimum level of
quality of foodstuffs attainable under India conditions.
These standards are set by the Directorate of Marketing and
Inspection of the Government of India.
The ISI mark on any article of food is a guarantee of food quality
in accordance with the standards prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards
(BIS) for that commodity.