Food Adulteration

In The Context Of Bangladesh

Tina S
Tina S
Mar 31, 2010
0 Comments | 10772 Views | 0 Hits


Adulteration: The addition of substances to foods etc. in order to increase the bulk and reduce the cost, with intent to defraud the purchaser. Common adulterants are starch in spices, water in milk and beer, etc. The British Food and Drugs Act (1860) was the first legislation to prevent such practices.

Food Security Situation: Bangladesh Context 

  • Bangladesh has made substantial progress in increasing food grain production over the last two decades. The production of food grains in 2002‐03 was 26.70 million metric tons, which is expected to reach 28.60 million tons in the year 2003‐04. This has led to improve overall food security situation, where per capita availability of food grains (rice+wheat) for FY03 was estimated to be 202 kgs/capita/year. 
  • Poverty head count ratio remains at the level of 44.3% ( 5.5 million people lying under food‐based absolute poverty line). The hard‐core poverty head count ratio, though, declined over the year’s still counts more than 24.5 million people. Both rural and urban Poor have low incomes and thus low purchasing powers, which increase the chances of consuming food of poorer quality that may well be also unsafe. 
  • Nutrition and food utilization are increasingly recognized as key components of food security in Bangladesh‐ having one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. Economic analyses indicated that without improvements in the nutritional status of the population, 22.9 Billion US$ in productivity will be lost to the country between 2000 & 2010 (UNICEF & ADB, 1980). (HFA in Bangladesh: Lessons Learnt, Henry B Parry, 2000). 

Importance of Food Safety 

Food safety and sanitation are considered to be a key issue to ensure overall food security in Bangladesh. 

o Food is the major source of human exposure to pathogenic agents, both chemical and biological (viruses, parasites, bacteria), from which no individual is spared. The importance of food safety stems from: 

(1) Food being the primary mode of transmission of infectious disease; 

(2) The intricate linkage with development‐ governs individual and community health, national productivity, and promotes export potential & thus earn foreign exchange; 

(3) Emerged as prominent sources of conflict in international agricultural trade. 

o Biotechnology has raised some food safety concerns as new scientific methods to assess the safety of food derived from biotechnology have yet to be developed and agreed upon internationally. 

o In Bangladesh >90 % tube wells of 61 districts (out of 64) are contaminated with arsenic. 

o Urban population are gradually shifting from cereal‐based diets and would likely generate a demand for fish, livestock, horticultural, forest produce as well as processed items, in turn necessitating safety load of associated transport, storage and marketing infrastructure. 

Food Adulteration 

The act of adding or mixing something inferior, harmful, useless and unnecessary substance to food. In other words, any food item may be considered as adulterated if its nature and quality are not up to the standard. Unscrupulous traders normally adulterate food. In the process of adulteration, extraneous matters are directly added to food grains. Sands and crushed rock are added to increase weight.

How people make food Adulterate

Grains: Mixing infested and damaged grains to good quality grains is a common practice. Sometimes grain polishing and husks are added to increase the weight. Nowadays, plastic beads that have the shape of food grains are often mixed with cereal grains. Coloured beads are added to the pulses. Sometimes water is sprayed over the grain stock to increase the weight. 

Oily foods: Adulteration of fats and oils is easy and cannot be easily detected. Ghee (butter oil) is adulterated with hydrogenated oil and animal fats. Recently, because of the discovery of synthetic colours and flavors, any fat can be made to look like ghee and customers may easily be cheated.

Till oil and coconut oil are often mixed with groundnut or cottonseed oil as the latter are cheaper. Mustard seeds are often mixed with argemone seeds and extracted together. Argemone oil contains an alkaloid‐sanguinarine, which is highly toxic and results in dropsy and paralysis. Adding allylisothiocyanate to soybean oil or palm oil gives the characteristic pungent smell of mustard oil. Mixing of palm oil with soybean oil is a common practice among dishonest traders for more profits. 

Milk: The adulteration of milk is normally done with the addition of water and removal of fat. Sometimes extraneous substances like soybean and groundnut milk, wheat flour, etc are mixed. Selling diluted buffalo milk as cow milk is a common practice in rural areas. Addition of wheat flour, semolina, etc to milk powder is also common. 

Tea: TEA leaves may be adulterated with the addition of used tea leaves, sawdust, and dried and ground leaves other than tea leaves. 

Spices: Spices like chilies and turmeric powder are adulterated with the addition of lead pigment to impart brightness in colour and good appearance. Metanil yellow, a carcinogenic agent, is used for coloring turmeric powder. Chili powder is normally adulterated by adding brick powder. 

Sweetmeat & soft drinks: Excessive use of wheat flour in place of milk protein (chhana) in the preparation of sweetmeat is an example of adulteration. Use of carboxy methyl cellulose (CMC) in lieu of liquid glucose or sugar syrup in the preparation of soft drinks is an example of extortion. In the name of various fruit juices, imitation products are prepared by using artificial and prohibited ingredients instead of using original fruit juice. Recently, a special drink named mineral water is being prepared and marketed with little or no assurance of quality.


Keywords: food,adulteration,oil,safety,nutrition,unicef,ADB,development,health,productivity,Bangladesh,horticulture,oily,grains,glucose,imitation,biotechnology,human,exposure,chemical,poverty.

Please Signup to comment on this article