How do you know that the coconut oil you bought is pure? Would you know if it was mixed with another oil?
Or what if there's detergent in your milk? Last year, the Lok Sabha was informed that two out three Indians drink milk laced with detergent, caustic soda, urea and paint.
Ever thought that Mangalore fish curry, striking red in colour and scrumptious in taste, that you've been gorging on could have been made with chilli powder that was mixed with dye?
When it comes to food adulteration, a number of food products that we regularly consume have contaminated versions in the market.
To help Indians make smarter food choices and to spread awareness about food safety, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has released the Detect Adulteration with Rapid Test (DART) booklet.
The booklet, available online, lists several everyday food products, the common adulterants and quick tests for detection at home.
As FSSAI states in its website, "DART covers more than 50 tests that can be performed easily at household with the help of water and simple solutions like tincture of iodine for food products like Milk & Milk Products, Oils & Fats, Sugar & Confectionary, Food Grains & its products, Spices & Condiments etc. These tests also include sensory evaluation tests for establishing authentication of food products."
Here's a list of 10 products and how to identify if they are adulterated or not.
1. Detergent in milk
The booklet has three separate tests to detect if milk has water, starch or detergent in it.
To find if your milk is laced with detergent, take some milk in a bottle and add an equal amount of water. Shake well. Adulterated milk will have a dense lather whereas pure milk will have a thin layer of foam due to the shaking.
2. Starch in ghee
Put a few drops of tincture of iodine in a teaspoon of ghee. If the colour of the ghee turns blue, it indicates the presence of starches such as potatoes.
3. Other oils in coconut oil
Pour some coconut oil in a transparent glass and put it in the fridge (not the freezer) for half an hour. Pure coconut oil will solidify. If it is adulterated, the coconut oil will still solidify and the other oils will float on top.
4. Sugar in Honey
In a glass of water, pour some drop of honey. If it disperses quickly, it has sugar in it. Pure honey, on the other hand, will not disperse in water.
5. Foreign resin in asofoetida (hing)
Mix a gram of asofoetida in a little water. Pure asofoetida will make the water milky white and will not leave behind any sediments
6. Papaya seeds in black pepper
Papaya seeds will float in water, but black pepper won't.
7. Saw dust in chilli powder
Add some chilli powder to a glass of water. If it is adulterated, the saw dust will float on the surface.
8. Cassia bark in cinnamon
Cassia barks have several layers, cinnamon is thinner and does not too many layers.
9. Clay in coffee powder
Stir a teaspoon of coffee in a glass of water and keep aside for five minutes. You'll notice clay settled at the bottom if the coffee is adulterated.
10. Dye in green vegetables such as chilli, pea, bitter gourd
Rub a piece of cotton that has been dipped in oil on a piece of green chilli. If the cotton turns green, it signifies adulteration.
The FSSAI has also released 'The Pink Book: Your Guide for Safe and Nutritious Food at Home'. With inputs from food technologists and nutritionists, the book is aims to helps Indian households prepare food that is hygienic and nutritious. It has several chapters including buying food, storing food, preparing and cooking food, managing leftover food, and sanitation in kitchen.