Hazards of food adulteration in human health

Food is the basic demand to sustain life and requirement for growth, development and proper functioning of human body. Our bodies require continuous supply of calories and nutrients for normal growth of cells, tissues and organs. We need energy to perform our daily life duties. We get energy by eating the food. Adulterating the food even after knowing its harmful a serious crime.

Food adulteration is one of the biggest issues in our community. It means the addition of ingredients that are hazardous to human health. Normally, it occurs where we purchase commodities at low price. It gives a chance to the seller to add different ingredients to reduce the price of pure commodity. This adulteration phenomenon is mostly prevailing in unaware and poor region of our country. Sellers add different types of ingredients in accordance with food items that are not easily identifiable by eye view.

Fruits, vegetables and edible commodities especially beverages, bottled water, cooking oil/ghee, spices, tea, sweeteners like sugar, sweetmeats and bakery products, milk and milk products can be easily contaminated by producers and from which they can save a few rupees. These contaminated food items are normally sold at lower price as compared to the non-contaminated ones and they are also preferred by the buyers due to their low prices. These low price contaminated food items are the main cause of daily life human diseases in our country.

Milk is an important part of our diet. It contains carbohydrate including lactose, glucose, galactose and other oligosaccharides. In minerals it provides calcium, phosphate, magnesium, sodium, potassium, citrate, and chlorine and in vitamins, it provides A, B6, B12, C, D, K, E, thiamine, niacin, biotin, riboflavin, folates, and pantothenic acid. Various contents are used to increase its shelf life and carbohydrates contents. Table sugar and water is added to enhance the carbohydrates content, which are easily detectable by the lactometer. For shelf life salicylic acid, benzoic acid and starch for solid contents, soap for foamy. For long time milk preservation formalin is added that badly damages the kidney and liver cells. Water is added from different sources such as canals and river ponds that include different hazardous type of micro-organism. All these adulterants are not beneficial for human health. The adulterated milk cause many diseases such as diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, headache and vomiting. Adulterated milk also causes kidney failure and pneumonia.

Fresh vegetables and fruits are main part of our meal. They provide different vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates that are essential for metabolic activities in human body. They help to control different type of chronic diseases. The main source of adulteration in fruits and vegetables is the self applied fertilizers and pesticides by the farmers to increase the production and to avoid the attacks of insects and diseases.

For better marketing wax coating is used to make them attractive and fresh for the consumer and sometime also dipped in chemical water to attain the same results. Rhodamine – B and copper sulphate (CuSO4) are some of the chemicals used for these processes. Mostly in cities but now in villages also the vegetables producing fields are irrigated with sewerage water which included detergents, human feces, factory wastes which have high concentrations of toxic heavy metals i.e. lead and arsenic which taken up plants by roots so they remain active in eatable parts of these vegetables. Liver, kidney damage and cancer are some diseases caused by these chemically treated foods but after all these serious health problems this is still in practice. Vegetables and fruits are also openly sold at roads where the free fallen smoke and dust particles are main factors for their adulteration.

Screen is used as sweetening agent in many confectionary products, instead of sucrose, which is harmful for health. In storage rooms there are much type of insects who move freely, grow and lay the eggs that mix with consumers products. Storage room are cleaned and fumigated to protect the storage products from insects. Brick dust is added in chilli powder on the other hand lead chromate and metanil yellow is added in turmeric powder. Sugar and salt is adulterated with calcium carbonate, similarly urea is mixed in parched rice which can be detected on the home also some people are seen little bit ignorant in accepting the fact. Saw dust in coriander powder and cumin powder, sodium bicarbonate in Jaggery, coal tar dye in tea leaves, metanil yellow color in gram powder. Besides these there are so many examples for adulteration in food. Sellers have no concern with health of consumer who only believes the rupees. They show the high quality product to the consumer but give inferior product to consumer instead.

Stoppage of adulteration practices may not be an easy task but creating awareness among the people about these practices is not that hard. The Government should take action to check the seller product before the consumer bought or used this commodity. The other if the rates of the commodities are less then we prefer good quality product.

The authors are associated with the Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.

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