The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recently brought out a manual entitled “Detect Adulteration with Rapid Test (DART)”. This manual focuses on some common quick tests for detection of food adulterants at the household level. The purpose of the manual is to present common methods that are available for the detection of food adulterants generally found in India. The manual is meant for household use, with the aim of creating awareness and educating the consumer about food adulteration and food safety.
The FSSAI normally carries out sampling of foodstuff and have these tested in FSSAI notified laboratories across the country. These tests require very sophisticated instruments and highly trained personnel to carry out the analytical procedures. However, there are some common adulterants that can be easily tested at home by the consumers themselves. These include artificial and toxic colours, extraneous material deliberately or otherwise added to the food, etc. The present manual describes some of these tests that are carried out in the following categories of food:
- Milk and Milk Products
- Oils and Fats
- Sugars and Confectionery
- Food Grains and its Products
- Spices and Condiments
This user-friendly manual describes a total of 40 tests in the above-mentioned food categories. The tests are very lucidly described with actual photographs showing real visual results in case of both unadulterated and adulterated food samples. Each of these food categories are briefly described below:
Milk and Milk Products
Under this category, four tests have been described. These pertain to the detection of the following:
- Water in milk.
- Detergent in milk.
- Starch in milk and milk products (khoya, chenna and paneer).
- Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and other starches in ghee/butter.
Oils and Fats
Under this category, one test is described, which pertains to the following:
- Detection of other oils in coconut oil.
Sugars and Confectionery
Under this category, two tests are described, which pertain to the following:
- Detection of sugar solution in honey.
- Detection of chalk powder in sugar/pithi sugar/jaggery
Food Grains and its Products
Under this category, eight tests have been described, which pertain to the detection of the following:
- Extraneous matter (dust, pebble, stone, straw, weed seeds, damaged grain, weeviled grain, insects, rodent hair and excreta) in food grains.
- Dhatura in food grains.
- Excess bran in wheat flour.
- Khesari dal in whole or split dal.
- Added colour in food grains.
- Iron filings in atta/maida/suji (rawa).
- Turmeric is sella rice.
- Rhodamine B in ragi.
Spices and Condiments
Under this category, a large number (twelve) of tests have been described, which pertain to the detection of the following:
- Foreign resin in asafoetida (hing).
- Soap stone or other earthy matter in asafoetida (hing).
- Papaya seeds in black pepper.
- Artificial/water soluble synthetic colours in chilli powder.
- Cassia bark in cinnamon.
- Grass seeds coloured with charcoal dust in cumin seeds.
- Argemone seeds in mustard seeds.
- Lead chromate in whole turmeric.
- Artificial colour in turmeric powder.
- Sawdust and powdered bran in powdered spices.
- Extraneous matter (dust, pebble, stone, straw, weed seeds, damaged grain, weeviled grain, insects, rodent hair and excreta) in whole spices.
- Fennel seeds in cumin seeds.
Under this category, the largest number (thirteen) of tests have been described, which pertain to the detection of the following:
- Malachite green in green chilli and green vegetables.
- Artificial colour on green peas.
- Coloured dried tendrils of maize cob in saffron.
- Powder in iodised salt.
- Clay in coffee powder.
- Colour in supari pan masala.
- Exhausted tea in tea leaves.
- Iron filings in tea leaves.
- Chakunda beans in pulses.
- Rhodamine B in sweet potato.
- Wax polishing on apple.
- Chicory powder in coffee powder.
Besides the above tests, the manual also describes a method for differentiation of common salt and iodised salt.
The FSSAI is hopeful that this compilation of tests will help citizens to identify for themselves any of the commonly found adulterants in foods. The manual is accompanied by a Feedback Form at the end, where any suggestions or feedback may be provided regarding any other tests that may be added to the existing list. The manual has been compiled by experts at FSSAI as well as scientists from ITC Life Sciences and Technology Centre, Bengaluru.