How to identify adulterants in everyday food items: FSSAI guidelines

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has released a manual for quick detection of adulterants in everyday food items. The book “Detect Adulteration with Rapid Test (DART)” lists 41 easy tests that can be done at home. With tests for items ranging from milk and milk products to food grains and spices, the book aims to create awareness about food safety.

Here is a list of some tests you can do today at home.

Common adulterants

Refrigerate coconut oil for 30 minutes. Coconut oil freezes; any other adulterant will remain on top as a separate layer.
Mix a small amount of milk and water and shake it vigorously, if adulterated with detergents, the solution will form lather.
Cut a piece of potato and sprinkle salt on it. Wait for a minute and add two drops of lemon juice to it. If it is iodised salt, blue colour will develop.

Move a magnet through your flour, tea powder to check for iron fillings.
Identify fungus in food grains by soaking them in salt solution. The fungus floats while the grains settle. Similarly papaya seeds float, whereas pepper sinks.

When burned in a small spoon, asafoetida burns like camphor, if adulterated it will not produce a bright flame.
Dection of clay and chicory in coffee powder

Add coffee powder to water and stir. If coffee powder is adulterated, you can see clay and chicory moving to the bottom and settling.

Detection of artificial colours

In green peas, you can see the malachite green colour separate out when soaked in a glass of water.
For vegetables like ladies finger, green chill and sweet potato, rub a piece of cotton soaked in vegetable oil on its surface. If coloured, you can see the cotton catch colour. You can do the test for ragi as well.
Soak whole turmeric in water, if adulterated it will leave a bright yellow colour indicating the presence of lead chromate.


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