Food adulteration is the act of intentionally debasing the quality of food offered for sale either by the admixture or substitution of inferior substances or by the removal of some valuable ingredient. Food is declared adulterated if: • a substance is added which depreciates or injuriously affects it • cheaper or inferior substances are substituted wholly or in part • any valuable or necessary constituent has been wholly or in part abstracted • it is an imitation • it is coloured or otherwise treated, to improve its appearance or if it contains any added substance injurious to health.
Food-preservatives have a very extensive use, which often constitutes adulteration. Salt is the classic preservative, but is seldom classified as an adulterant. Salicylic, benzoic, and boric acids, and their sodium salts, formaldehyde, ammonium fluoride, sulphurous acid and its salts are among the principal preservatives. Many of these appear to be innocuous, but there is danger that the continued use of food preserved by these agents may be injurious. Some preservatives have been conclusively shown to be injurious when used for long periods.
Coal-tar colours are employed a great deal, pickles and canned vegetables are sometimes coloured green with copper salts; butter is made more yellow by anatta; turmeric is used in mustard and some cereal preparations. Apples are the basis for many jellies, which are coloured so as to simulate finer ones. In confectionery, dangerous colours, such as chrome yellow, prussian blue, copper and arsenic compounds are employed. Yellow and orange-coloured sweets are to be suspected. Artificial flavouring compounds are employed in the concoction of fruit syrups, especially those used for soda water.
Milk is adulterated with water, and indirectly by removing the cream. The addition of water may introduce disease germs. Cream is adulterated with gelatin, and formaldehyde is employed as a preservative for it. Butter is adulterated to an enormous extent with oleomargarine, a product of beef fat. Brick dust in chilli powder, coloured chalk powder in turmeric, injectable dyes in watermelon, peas, capsicum, brinjal, papaya seeds in black pepper etc. 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. One is advised to avoid salads, uncooked vegetables, and unpasteurised 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. Adulterants are chemical substances which should not be contained within other substances (eg. food, beverages, fuels for legal or other reasons). Adulterants may be intentionally added to more expensive substances to increase visible quantities and reduce manufacturing costs, or for some other deceptive or malicious purpose.
Adulterants may also be accidentally or unknowingly introduced into substances. The addition of adulterants is called adulteration. The word is only appropriate when the additions are unwanted by the recipient, otherwise the expression would be food additive. Adulterants when used in illicit drugs are called cutting agents, while deliberate addition of toxic adulterants to food or other products for human consumption is known as poisoning. In food and beverages Examples of adulteration include: Mogdad coffee, whose seeds have been used as an adulterant for coffee • Roasted chicory roots, whose seeds have been used similarly, starting during the Napoleonic era in France (and continuing until today as a moderately popular additive for cheaper coffee) • Roasted ground peas, beans, or wheat, which have been used to adulterate roasted chicory • Diethylene glycol, used by some winemakers to fake sweet wines • Oleomargarine or lard, added to butter • Rapeseed oil, commonly added to sunflower oil and soybean oil, rassicasterol being a marker of its presence • Rye flour, corn meal or potato starch, used to dilute more expensive flours; alum is also added to disguise usage of lower-quality flour • Apple jellies, as substitutes for more expensive fruit jellies, with added colorant and sometimes even specks of wood that simulate strawberry seeds • Artificial colorants, often toxic – e. g. , copper, zinc, or indigo-based green dyes added to absinthe • Sudan I yellow color, added to chili powder, as well as Sudan Red for red color • Water, for diluting milk and beer and hard drinks Low quality black tea, marketed as higher quality tea • Starch, added to sausages • Cutting agents, often used to adulterate (or “cut”) illicit drugs – for example, shoe polish in solid cannabis • Urea, melamine and other non-protein nitrogen sources, added to protein products in order to inflate crude protein content measurements • Powdered beechnut husk aromatized with cinnamic aldehyde, marketed as powdered cinnamon. High fructose corn syrup or cane sugar, used to adulterate honey; C4 sugars serve as markers, as detected by carbon isotopic signatures • Glutinous rice coloring made of hazardous industrial dyes, as well as tinopal to make rice noodles whiter (to serve as bleach) • Noodles, meat, fish, tofu preserved with formaldehyde in tropical Asia, to prevent spoilage from the sun History Historically, the usage of adulterants has been common in societies with few legal controls on food quality and/or poor/nonexistent monitoring by authorities; sometimes this usage has even extended to exceedingly dangerous chemicals and poisons.
In the United Kingdom during the Victorian era, adulterants were quite common; for example, cheeses were sometimes colored with lead. Similar adulteration issues were seen in industry in the United States, until the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1907. More recently, adulterant use in the People’s Republic of China has inspired much public attention. (See: Food safety in the People’s Republic of China). Adulterant usage was first investigated in 1820 by the German chemist Frederick Accum, who identified many toxic metal colorings in food and drink.
His work antagonized food suppliers, and he was ultimately discredited by a scandal over his alleged mutilation of Royal Institution library books. The physician Arthur Hill Hassall later conducted extensive studies in the early 1850s, which were published in The Lancet and led to the 1860 Food Adulteration Act and subsequent further legislation.  At the turn of the twentieth century, industrialization in the United States saw an uprise in adulteration and this inspired some protest. Accounts of adulteration led the New York Evening Post to parody: Mary had a little lamb, And when she saw it sicken, She shipped it off to Packingtown,
And now it’s labeled chicken.  However, even back in the 1700s, people recognized adulteration in food: “The bread I eat in London is a deleterious paste, mixed up with chalk, alum and bone ashes, insipid to the taste and destructive to the constitution. The good people are not ignorant of this adulteration; but they prefer it to wholesome bread, because it is whiter than the meal of corn [wheat]. Thus they sacrifice their taste and their health. . . to a most absurd gratification of a misjudged eye; and the miller or the baker is obliged to poison them and their families, in order to live by his profession. – Tobias Smollet, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker (1771) A history of food poisoning and adulteration is found in the textbook, Death in the Pot: The Impact of Food Poisoning on History.  In drug tests Adulterants can be also added to urine, in order to interfere with the accuracy of drug tests. They are often oxidative in nature – hydrogen peroxide and bleach have been used, sometimes with pH-adjusting substances like vinegar or sodium bicarbonate. These can be detected by drug testing labs, but some less expensive tests do not look for them. citation needed] Notable incidents of adulteration • In 1987, Beech-Nut paid $2. 2 million in fines for violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by selling artificially flavored sugar water as apple juice.  • In 1997, ConAgra Foods pled guilty to federal criminal charges that one of its units illegally sprayed water on stored grain to increase its weight and value.  • In 2007, samples of wheat gluten mixed with melamine, presumably to produce artificially inflated results from common tests for protein content, were discovered in many U.
S. pet food brands, as well as in human food supply. The adulterated gluten was found to have come from China, and U. S. authorities concluded that its origin was the Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company, a Xuzhou, China-based company. (See: Chinese protein export contamination. ) • In 2008, significant portions of China’s milk supply were found to have been contaminated with melamine. Infant formula produced from melamine-tainted milk killed at least six children and were believed to have harmed thousands of others.