Food Adulteration is the act of intentionally debasing the quality of food offered for sale either by the admixture or substitution of inferior substances or by the removal of some valuable. Food Adulteration is one of the major challenges of society today. Despite having many policies and penalties, Food adulteration is commonly seen around the globe.

            According to the National Health Service and Food Research Institute, several food products have been adulterated to increase the quantity and make more profit. This practice of adding adulterants to food products are quite common in al developing countries and other backward countries. WHO has aimed to raise awareness about the adulteration of food products, motivate and inspire everyone to have a healthy and balanced diet.

Food is declared adulterated if:

  • A substance is added which depreciates or injuriously affects it.
  • Cheaper or inferior substances are substituted wholly or in part.
  • Any valuable or necessary constituent has been wholly or in part abstracted.
  • It is an imitation.
  • It is colored or otherwise treated, to improve its appearance or if it contains any added substance injurious to health.
  • For whatever reasons its quality is below the Standard

Adulterated food is dangerous because it may be toxic and can affect health and it could deprive nutrients essential for proper growth and development.

There are 4 types of Food Adulteration-

Poisonous or Deleterious Substances

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 Foreign Matter

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.

Economic Adulteration

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).

Microbiological Contamination and Adulteration

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).