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Table 4. Kitchen tricks to expose potentially harmful Food Adulterants

Name of Food Article


Detection Method

Potential Harm

Turmeric, dals and pulses such as moong or channa

Metanil Yellow and Kesari Dal (enhance food yellow color)

Dissolve half a spoon full of besan or turmeric powder in 20 ml of lukewarm water. Add a few drops of hydrochloric acid or any commonly available acid at home. If the water turns pink, violet or purple, it shows the presence of Metanil yellow.

It's highly carcinogenic and if consumed over a continuous period of time it can also cause stomach disorders.

Green chilies, green peas and other vegetables

Malachite Green (To accentuate vegetable green color)

Take a small portion of the sample and place it over a moistened white blotting paper. Colored impressions on the blotting paper indicate the presence of Malachite green.

It's a colored dye that has proven to be carcinogenic for humans if consumed over a long period of time.

Mustard seeds and mustard oil

Argemone seeds (used to add bulk and weight)

When pressed or crushed, argemone seeds are white inside and have a rough outer surface whereas mustard seeds are smooth on the outside and are yellow on the inside.

The consumption of these could cause epidemic dropsy and severe glaucoma. Young children and senior citizens with poor immunity are more susceptible this.

Paneer, khoya, condensed milk and milk

Starch (used to give it a thick, rich texture)

Take a small sample of the product in a test tube, add 20 ml of water and bring to a boil. Cool to room temperature and add a drop or two of iodine solution. If the solution turns blue, it marks the presence of starch.

Unhygienic, unprocessed water and starch can cause stomach disorders. Starch greatly reduces the nutritional value of the ingredient.

Ice cream

Washing powder (to add a sheen and lightness of flavor)

Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on the ice cream. If it starts to froth and bubble, it marks the presence of washing powder.

It can cause severe stomach and liver disorders

Black pepper

Papaya seeds (used to add bulk)

Float the sample in alcohol. Mature black pepper corns will sink where as papaya seeds will float to the surface.

Papaya seeds can cause serious liver problems and stomach disorders.

Coffee powder

Tamarind seeds, chicory powder

Gently sprinkle coffee powder on the surface of water in a glass. The coffee will float whereas chicory will start to sink within a few seconds. Also, the falling chicory powder will leave a trail of color behind due to the large amounts of caramel it contains.

These can cause diarrhea, stomach disorders, giddiness and severe joint pains.

Suggested Precautions

  • To avoid illness, one is advised to select foods with care.
  • All raw foods must be checked for contamination particularly in areas where hygiene and sanitation are inadequate.
  • To avoid salads, uncooked vegetables, and unpasteurized milk and milk products such as cheese and to eat only food that has been cooked and is still hot. Undercooked and raw meat, fish, and shellfish can carry various intestinal pathogens.
  • Cooked food that has been allowed to stand for several hours at ambient temperature can provide a fertile medium for bacterial growth and should be thoroughly reheated before serving.
  • Consumption of food and beverages obtained from street food vendors has been associated with an increased risk of illness. So avoid taking street food.
  • In areas where chlorinated tap water is not available or where hygiene and sanitation are poor, one is advised that only the following might be safe to drink.
  • Beverages, such as tea and coffee, made with boiled water.
  • To avoid out of season fruits because chemicals are used to preserve them during the off-season.

Implementation of Rules and Regulations
There are several laws in Bangladesh for maintaining health and safety standards.
(a) The Bangladesh Pure Food Ordinance, 1959: This is an ordinance to provide better control of the manufacture and sale of food for human consumption. Now, this Ordinance is under revision as 'The Bangladesh Pure Food (Amendment) Act'. Under this Act, it has been proposed to constitute a National Food Safety Council, headed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as well as to establish Food Courts.

(b) The Bangladesh Pure Food Rules, 1967: In this Rule, there are generic standards for 107 food products. Now, this 'Rules' is under revision.

(c) The Food Grain Supply (Prevention of Prejudicial activity) Ordinance, 1956 (Ord. xxvi of 1979): This ordinance provides special measures for prevention of prejudicial activity relating to the storage, movement, transshipment, supply and distribution of food grains. It provides basis for the protection of false statement or information.

(d) The Radiation Protection Act, 1987: Under this Act, the Institute of Food and Radiation Biology (IFRB) of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission is primarily involved in food irradiation research and development in the country.

(e) The Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) Prevention Act, 1989: The Government has enacted "The Iodine Deficiency Disorders Prevention Act, 1989 for universal salt iodization and banned non-iodized salt from market, aimed at virtual elimination of IDD from the country.

(f) The Essential Commodity Act, 1990: The purpose of administering this act is to stabilize, maintain or increase supply of essential commodities including foodstuffs. The mandate of Essential Commodity Act also includes broad spectrum of activities like storage, transport, distribution, disposal, acquisition, use or consumption of any essential commodity.

(g) Fish and Fish product (Inspection and Quality Control) Rules, 1997: Under this section of the Fish and Fish products (Inspection and Control) Ordinance 1983 (Ord xx of 1983) and in conjunction with fish and fish products Inspection and Quality Rules 1989, and other related provisions made there under, the government has made the Rules: Fish and Fish product (Inspection and Quality Control) Rules, 1997. These Rules are basically meant to develop quality improvement to promote export trade. The quality control of fish and fish products in the country has earned reputation among the importing countries.

(h) Other Laws and Regulations: In addition, a number of other Laws and Regulations exist in the country to ensure the safe and quality food viz. The Animal Slaughter (Restriction) and Meat Control (Amendment) Ordinance, 1983 (it is under revision); The Pesticide Ordinance, 1971 & the Pesticides Rules, 1985; Destructive Insects and Pests Rules (Plant Quarantine), 1966, amended up to 1989; Agricultural Products Market Act, 1950 (revised in 1985); Fish Protection and Conservation Act, 1950 (amended in 1995); Marine Fisheries Ordinance 1983 and Rules, 1983; Procurement Specifications, Ministry of Food, Rice Mill Control Order etc.

(i) The Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution Ordinance, 1985: This ordinance relates to establishment of an institution for standardization, testing, metrology, quality control, grading and marking of goods. Within the framework of this ordinance, the government has established the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI). One import task of this organization is to certify the quality of commodities, materials, whether for local consumption or for export and import. The Ordinance has been amended as The Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (Amendment) Act, 2003.

1.    Risks from food and drink from dkl, Houston County Health Department
2.    Food adulteration rings alarm bell The Daily Star Editorial Thursday, August 11, 2011
3.    Beware of adulterated food The Daily Star Editorial Saturday, July 14, 2012
4.    Improving Food safety, Quality and Food Control in Bangladesh FAO of the UN June 2010
5. PDF
7.    Quick Tests for some adulterants in the food Instruction Manual Part 1 by Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI)
8.    Bitter Truth Rampant adulteration still a havoc by Md. Asadullah Khan The Daily Star Saturday, July 9, 2011
9.    Risks from Food and Water from Travel Tips
10.    Slow poisoning continues unabated by MD. Asadullah Khan The Daily Star Saturday, August 14, 2010
11.    Some Cautions before eating, Article from
12.    Kitchen tricks to expose food adulteration Divashri Sinha, Mumbai Mirror May 30, 2012
13.    Food Safety and Quality Control in Bangladesh by Dr. Md. Hossain The Financial Express Wednesday September 10, 2008
14.    Monitoring Contaminants in Food Chain and Their Impact on Human Health CNR Environment and Health Inter-departmental Project
15.    “Formalin Aggrasion “in editorial page the daily news paper Bangladesh Protidin on 4th November
16.    Food contamination causes serious health hazard to humans: Study conducted by the Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU)
17.    Wikipedia
18.    Encyclopedia Britannica
19.    Food & Drug Admininistration Uttar Pradesh



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