Adulteration of food is defined as the addition or subtraction of any substance to or from food, so that the natural composition and quality of the original food substance is affected. It is difficult for the consumer to detect the extent of adulteration. Adulteration of foods can either be intentional, unintentional or natural.
Intentional adulteration is the act of adding, removing substances to food or altering the existing natural properties of food knowingly. The Government of India records indicate that on an average 25 to 30% of edibles sold in the market are adulterated. Some examples of intentional adulteration are addition of water to liquid milk, extraneous matter to ground spices, or the removal or substitution of milk solids from the natural product.
Unintentional adulteration is usually attributed to ignorance, carelessness or lack of facilities for maintaining food quality. This kind of adulteration results from pesticide and insect residues or microorganisms entering the food right from the farm through other stages leading to the customer.
This occurs due to the presence of certain chemicals, organic compounds or radicals naturally occurring in foods which are injurious to health and are not added to the foods intentionally or unintentionally. Some of the examples are toxic varieties of pulses, mushrooms, green and other vegetables, fish and sea foods. About 5000 species of marine fish are known to be poisonous and many of these are among edible varieties.
Health hazards of adulteration:
Adulteration of food causes several heath problems in humans. Some of the health hazards include stomach ache, body ache, anemia, abortion, paralysis, and increase in the incidence of tumors, pathological lesions in vital organs, abnormalities of skin and eyes. Hence food adulteration should be given great importance due to its effect in the health significance of the public.