World Food Safety Day: Building a Culture of Safety and Trust in Every Bite

World Food Safety Day: Building a Culture of Safety and Trust in Every Bite

It’s a shame that we have to celebrate a day over food safety to educate people about the food they are putting into their bodies on a daily basis.

Food safety is a crucial aspect of public health, yet food adulteration remains a persistent issue worldwide.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 600 million people, almost 1 in 10 people fall ill after consuming contaminated food, and 420,000 die every year.

This year's theme, "Food safety: prepare for the unexpected," underscores the critical importance of being proactive in safeguarding our food supply from potential hazards.


Major Causes of Food Adulteration?

Food adulteration occurs for several reasons, driven by various economic, regulatory, and logistical factors. Here are the primary causes:

1. Economic Motivations

Profit Maximization: Producers and suppliers often adulterate food to reduce production costs and increase profits. For example, adding water to milk increases its volume, allowing the seller to make more money from the same amount of product.

Market Competition: In highly competitive markets, some producers may resort to adulteration to offer lower prices and attract more customers, thereby gaining an edge over competitors.


2. Poor Regulatory rules and regulations

Weak Regulations: In countries where food safety regulations are poorly enforced, adulteration is more common. Without stringent laws and regular inspections, immoral producers can get away with compromising food quality.

Corruption and Bribery: In some regions, corruption within regulatory bodies can lead to a lack of enforcement of food safety standards. Bribery can result in inspections being overlooked or ignored.


3. Supply Chain Complexity

Long and Complex Supply Chains: Modern food supply chains can be long and complex, involving multiple intermediaries. At various points in the supply chain, opportunities arise for adulterants to be introduced without detection.

Traceability Issues: Difficulty in tracking and tracing the origins of food products can make it easier for adulteration to occur. Without proper documentation and tracking systems, adulterated products can pass through the supply chain unnoticed.


4. Consumer Demand and Market Pressures

High Demand for Low-Cost Food: There is a significant demand for inexpensive food products. To meet this demand, some producers might adulterate food to lower costs and provide cheaper products.

Seasonal Variations and Shortages: During times of shortage or increased demand (such as during festive seasons), the temptation to adulterate food to meet market demands can be higher.

5. Lack of consumer awareness

Ignorance about Adulteration: Consumers may not be aware of the prevalence of food adulteration or how to detect it. This lack of awareness reduces the pressure on producers to maintain high standards.


6. Technological and Environmental Factors

Inadequate Technology: Lack of access to advanced testing and monitoring technology can make it difficult for producers to ensure the purity of their products, leading to unintentional adulteration.

Environmental Contaminants: Environmental factors, such as polluted water or soil, can lead to unintentional contamination of food products with harmful substances like heavy metals or pesticides.


Types of Food Adulteration!


Food adulteration can take various forms, each with distinct characteristics and health implications. Here are the primary types:


1. Intentional adulteration

  • Substitution: replacing a high-quality ingredient with a cheaper, inferior one.
  • Examples include adding starch to milk and substituting with vegetable oils to ghee.

  • Addition: Adding substances to increase the quantity and weight of the product.
  • Examples: adding water to milk, adding artificial colors to enhance the appearance of food and adding chalk powder to flour.

    • Misbranding: Labeling food products with misleading information to make them appear of higher quality.

    Examples: Labeling non-organic products as organic, misrepresenting the sources or ingredients.


    2. Metallic Adulteration

    Presence of harmful metals in food, often due to environmental contamination or improper processing.

    Examples: Lead in water, arsenic in rice and mercury in fish.


    3. Microbial Contamination

    Contamination with harmful microorganisms due to inadequate hygiene or improper storage.

    Examples include bacterial contamination like E. coli or Salmonella in meat, fungal contamination in stored grains, and viral contamination in seafood.


    4. Chemical adulteration

    Contamination with chemicals, often due to the use of unauthorized substances or excessive use of additives.

    Examples: Use of formalin to preserve dairy products, excessive use of preservatives in processed foods and pesticide residues in cereals.


    5. Packaging adulteration

    Adulteration involves the packaging materials, which can discharge harmful substances into the food.

    Examples: use of non-food-grade plastics that release harmful chemicals and ink from packaging materials contaminating food products.


    Here's a comprehensive chart outlining various foods, common adulterants, the causes of adulteration, and the health impacts of these adulterants:



    Cause of Adulteration

    Health Impact


    Water, starch, detergent, urea

    Increase volume and weight

    Gastrointestinal issues, kidney problems, nutrient deficiency


    Sugar syrup, jaggery

    Reduce production cost

    Weight gain, diabetes risk, digestive issues

    Spices (Turmeric, Chili Powder)

    Artificial colors, brick powder, chalk powder

    Enhance appearance, increase weight

    Allergic reactions, cancer risk, digestive issues


    Used tea leaves, artificial color

    Reduce cost, enhance appearance

    Stomach disorders, carcinogenic effects


    Tamarind seed, chicory powder

    Reduce cost

    fatigue, muscle pain

    Olive Oil

    Cheaper Refined oils (soybean, palm)

    Reduce cost

    Increased cholesterol, cardiovascular issues


    Vegetable Oils, Vanaspati, margarine

    Reduce cost

    Heart diseases, liver disorders

    Fruits (e.g., Bananas, Mangoes)

    Artificial ripening agents (calcium carbide)

    Speed up ripening process

    Headaches, dizziness, memory loss, cancer risk


    Malachite green, artificial colors

    Enhance appearance, increase shelf life

    Toxicity, cancer risk, liver and kidney damage


    Polished with talcum powder

    Improve appearance

    Respiratory issues, digestive disorders

    Wheat Flour

    Chalk powder, soapstone

    Increase weight

    Gastrointestinal problems, nutrient deficiency


    Chalk powder, washing soda

    Increase weight

    Gastrointestinal issues, dental problems


    Non-edible colors, synthetic sweeteners

    Enhance appearance, reduce cost

    Allergic reactions, digestive problems, carcinogenic effects

    Soft Drinks

    Artificial sweeteners, caffeine

    Enhance taste, reduce cost

    Obesity, diabetes, hyperactivity, cardiovascular problems

    Meat and Fish

    Formalin, preservatives

    Extend shelf life

    Cancer risk, respiratory issues, gastrointestinal problems



    As you can see, consumption of Adulterated food can lead to diseases like Gastrointestinal disturbances, allergic reactions, acute poisoning, cancer, neurological disorders, liver and kidney damage.


    Be a responsible consumer and take necessary precautions to ensure your food is safe to consume.

    Ensuring food safety involves both awareness and proactive measures. Here are some tips to help protect yourself and your family from adulterated food:

    1. Purchase from Reputable Sources: Buy food products from trusted vendors and brands that follow stringent safety standards.
    2. Check Labels and Certifications: Look for certification marks like FDA, USDA Organic, or ISO that indicate compliance with safety regulations.
    3. Be Wary of Low Prices: If a product is significantly cheaper than usual, it may be adulterated. Quality products come at a cost.
    4. Inspect Food Quality: Check the color, texture, and smell of food items. Unusual attributes can indicate adulteration.
    5. Educate Yourself: Stay informed about common adulterants in foods you regularly consume and learn simple tests to detect them.
    6. Proper Storage and Hygiene: Store food in clean, dry conditions and maintain hygiene to prevent microbial contamination.
    7. Advocate for Stronger Regulations: Support policies and initiatives aimed at improving food safety standards and enforcement.

    Ensuring that your food is unadulterated can be a lot of work but it will always be worthwhile. By buying from reputable sources, inspecting labels, conducting simple tests, and practicing proper storage and hygiene, you can significantly reduce the risk of consuming adulterated food. Staying informed and vigilant is key to protecting your health and that of your family.

    Back to blog