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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. saffron, turmeric
· Flavoring agents, e.g. vanilla essence
· Sweeteners, e.g.saccharin
· Preservatives, e.g.ascorbic acid, sodium benzoate
· Acidity imparting 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,
· Foods artificially 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
· Misbranding or
· 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:
· Milk: Addition of water, removal of fat and addition of starch to make the milk thicker are the common forms of milk adulteration.
· Ghee: This is adulterated with dalda and animal fats such as pig’s fat.
· Rice and wheat: These are mixed with stone chips and mud to increase the bulk
· Flour: Wheat flour is mixed with soap stone powder and cheaper flours such as singhada flour.
· Pulses: Chemical substances are added to old stocks to improve the appearance.
· Tea and coffee: Tea leaves are adulterated with old tea leaves; leather and saw dust, coffee is adulterated with chicory
· Honey: This is adulterated with sugar or jaggery and boiled with empty beehives.
· Medicines: Even drugs are adulterated.
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 foods.
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 Codex Alimentarius.
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.
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