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Food Adulteration

The offense, like Food Adulteration, is a threat to society, and leaving its culprits is a sin as well. With time, the facilities like on-door food delivery services, food offers, discount coupons, frozen food, premixes, packaged food have evolved. However, these facilities have made the people not only lazy but also casual in their approach, as nowadays, they do not pay attention to the ingredients and the flavoring agents being used in the preparation of packaged food.

As a result, many manufactures have started taking advantage of this heedless approach by serving fumed, intoxicated, and adulterated food to the consumers. Moreover, at times, they print the list showing ingredients just for the sake of branding.

Further, in India, the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, and the FSS Act, 2006, provides rules and regulations concerning adulteration of food. Both of these acts also make sure that every individual living in India eats only that food, which is not only of good quality but is also safe for consumption. 

What Is Food Adulteration?

According to Section 2(a) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, the term “adulterated” food means as follows:

  • If the food item sold is not of the substance, quality, or nature, that of demanded by the customer.
  • If the said food product does not obey to the substance, nature, or quality which was earlier represented, then also it can be termed as an adulterated food.
  • Whenever a food item comprises any substance, component of inferior quality, which might affect the health of the person consuming.
  • Any food item packed, prepared, or preserved under unsanitary, or unhygienic conditions, therefore, lead to adulteration of such food items.
  • If in case, a food item is acquired from a deceased animal.
  • If in case, the said food item is wholly or in part is putrid, filthy, rotten, decayed, or made out of a sick animal.
  • If in case, the vegetable includes pesticides or insecticides, or is unsuitable for human consumption in any way.
  • Food items including any poisonous, noxious, or any other such component which might be harmful to health.
  • Food item consisting of any forbidden preservative, or any permitted preservative used beyond the prescribed threshold.
  • If in case, the quality of the food item is lower than the prescribed criteria, or comprises ingredients which are not within the acceptable limit.
  • Any other reason as specified.

However, if in case the purity, or the quality of the food item gets depreciated, because of, any natural factor, then it will not be termed as food adulteration.

Further, the term Food adulteration also encompasses the display of any misleading or ambiguous advertisement aiming for the sale of any food article.

What is a Food?

The definition of the term food is exhaustive and includes the listed below:

  • Any article or drink used in the preparation of food item;
  • Any condiments or flavoring agents;
  • Any other article as specified by the Central Government;

What are the causes of food adulteration?

The problem of Food Adulteration is a long-term, dating back from the ancient times. It can either be intentional which intends to generate more profits out of the products sold, or the same can be unintentional as well, which is caused due to the natural factors or any other such reason. Further, based on the type of food adulterant, the term food adulteration has been bifurcated into three parts:

  • Intentional Adulterants
  • Incidental Adulterants
  • Metallic Adulterants

Sr. No.

Type of Food Adulteration

Substance used



Marble Chips, Sand, Stones, Talc, Mud, other filth, Chalk Powder, Mineral Oil, Harmful Colours, and Water



Residues of Pesticides, stools from rodents,
and worms in food product



Arsenic from insecticides, lead from water,
sewage from chemical factories, and tin from cans  


Other causes of food adulteration are as follows:

  • Presence of poisonous
  • Deleterious substances
  • Filth
  • Foreign matter
  • Microbiological contamination

What are the steps taken by the Central Government against Food Adulteration?

Nowadays, the Indian Government is constantly taking steps against the menace of food adulteration. The following are some of the steps taken by the government:

  • The Food Safety and Standard [Licensing and Registration of Food Business] Regulations, 2011.
  • The Food Safety and Standard [Packing and Labelling] Regulations, 2011.
  • The Food Safety and Standard [Laboratory and Sampling Analysis] Regulations, 2011.
  • The Food Safety and Standard [Food Product Standards and Food Additives] Regulations, 2011.

What are the Objectives of Food Safety Measures taken by the Central Government?

The listed below are the objectives behind the introduction of measures for maintaining food safety:

  • Protection from the harmful food products;
  • Restriction of the businesses using sub-standard material;
  • To safeguard the consumer interest;
  • Prevention of deceitful practices concerning food;

A Few Examples of Food Adulteration?

Some of the few examples of the food contamination are as follows:

  • Presence of worms, insects, dust particles, or fungus in the food items.
  • Adulteration in the dairy products, like milk and ghee.
  • Adulteration of condiments or spice powders.
  • Sale of the expired packaged food.

What are the Problems about which a Consumer can Complain About?

It is significant to know the problems that one can face while filing a complaint against, the food safety authority. The listed below are the common problems about which one can file a complaint of food adulteration:

  • Sale of the expired food items; 
  • Dust, worms, insects, or fungus on food;
  • Improper packaging;
  • Insufficient/ Improper/ Incorrect information on the food label 
  • Misleading commercials/ advertisements;
  • Manufacturer’s address not mentioned;
  • No description about the harmful ingredients used; 
  • Lack of warnings;
  • Any other form of adulteration according to the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.

What is the Procedure to File a Complaint against the Food Adulteration?

The listed below are the steps included in the process of filing a complaint against the Food Adulteration:

  • Step 1: Download the Food Connect Application from the Google play store.
  • Step 2: Now, choose the appropriate category from the provided option namely; Premises or Packaged Food.
  • Step 3: In the next step, mention the kind of issue the complainant is facing.
  • Step 4: Describe in detail about the issue together with pertinent pictures.
  • Step 5: Complainant is required to submit his complaint

What is the Procedure to File a Complaint against Misleading Advertisements?

It shall be taken into consideration that an individual can also file a complaint against any misleading or ambiguous advertisements. The following are the steps included in the procedure to file a complaint against misleading advertisements:

  • Step 1: The first step is to visit the official portal of the “Advertising Standards Council of India.”
  • Step 2: Next, go to the menu saying “Lodge your Complaint.
  • Step 3: The Complainant will then be redirected to the ASIC: Consumer Online Complaint Form Page.
  • Step 4: The complainant is then needed to fill his details along with the complaint’s description.
  • Step 5: Now, attach a link, video, or an image of an advertisement if in case the complainant has any.
  • Step 6: Enter the provided captcha code.
  • Step 7: Lastly, click on the option saying “Submit your Complaint.”

List of Adulterants and their Harmful Effects?

Food Products


Harmful Effects

Milk and Curd

Starch Powder and Water

Stomach Disorders

Ghee, Butter and Cheese

Vanaspati, Mashed Potatoes, and Starch Powder.

Gastro-Intestinal instabilities, and other stomach related disorders


Dust, Stones, Pebbles, Straw, Damaged Grain, Weed Seeds, etc.

Toxicity in the body, Liver Disorders, etc


Chemical, Dyes, and Lead Chromate.

Stomach Disorders

Coffee powder

Chicory, Tamarind Seeds Powder.



Artificial Colouring Agents.

Liver Disorders


Chalk Powder, Urea, Washing Soda, etc.

Stomach Disorders and Kidney Failure


Dried Blackberries, and Papaya seeds.

Severe Allergic Reactions including Skin and Stomach irritations

Mustard seeds

Argemone Seeds.

Abdominal Cramps, Sluggishness, and Increased Excretion.

Edible Oils

Karanja Oil, Mineral Oil, Castor Oil, and Artificial Colours.

Gallbladder Cancer, Paralysis, Allergies, increased LDL Cholesterol, and Cardiac Arrest.

Turmeric Powder

Sawdust, Pesticide Residues, Chalk Dust, Methanol Yellow Dye Arsenic, Industrial Dyes, Lead Metal etc.

Cancer and Stomach related disorders.

Coriander and Chilli Powder

Rhodamine B dye, Red Lead, Redbrick Powder, Dung Powder, Water-soluble Synthetic Colours, Soluble Salts, and other Common Salts.

Cancer, Metal Toxicity, Lead Poisoning, Variations in Blood Pressure, Tumour, and other stomach associated disorders.

Cinnamon Sticks

Cassia Bark.

Liver Disorder, Mouth Sores, Low Blood Sugar, and Increased Risk of Cancer.

Cumin seeds

Coloured Grass Seeds, Charcoal Dust, and Sawdust

Stomach disorders.

Jam, Juice, and Candies

Non-Permitted Dyes including methanol Yellow Dye Arsenic, and other Artificial Food Dyes

These Dyes are substantially cancer-causing that have the potential to cause various types of cancer.


Washing Soda, Chalk Powder

Vomiting and other Stomach related Disorders


Dextrose, Molasses, Sugar, and Corn Syrups

Stomach related Disorders

Fruits and Vegetables

Malachite Green, Chemical Dyes, Copper Sulphate, and Calcium Carbide, Oxytocin Saccharin Wax

Stomach related Disorders, Vomiting, and Dyes used are Highly Cancer-causing.

Tomato sauces

Non-Edible Artificial Colours, Pumpkin Pulp, and Flavours

Inflammation of Vital Organs and Gastritis.

Ice Cream

Ethyl Acetate, Pepper Oil, Nitrate, Butyraldehyde, and Washing Powder.

The kind of Gum is added which is manufactured by boiling different animal parts encompassing the udder, tail, and, nose, etc.

Terrible diseases that affect organs comprising Kidneys, Lungs, and Heart.

 What is the Penalty prescribed for Food Adulteration?

According to sections 51 to 64 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the following listed are the punishments imposed on the people who commit acts resulting in food adulteration: 

  • Any person who is guilty of selling any item which is not according to the customer’s demand is liable to pay a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakhs.
  • Anyone who is either selling, manufacturing, storing, distributing, or importing any food item of sub-standard quality, containing decayed matter, or preserved in unhygienic conditions is liable to pay a prescribed penalty.
  • Anyone who is either selling, manufacturing, storing, distributing, or importing any misbranded food-based product, is liable to pay a fine up to Rs 3 lakhs.
  • Anyone who publishes any misguided or ambiguous advertisement which falsely represents the food quality or provides any false hopes to consumers will be liable to pay a fine up to Rs 10 lakhs.
  • If in case any person distributes any product made of some non-severe adulterant, he or she will be liable to pay a fine up to Rs 1 Lakh. However, if the adulterant used is injurious to health, the same fine will go up to the extent of Rs 10 lakhs.
  • Anyone who violates or infringes any regulation prescribed in the Act will be asked to pay a penalty up to Rs 2 lakhs.

What are the Compensatory Remedies available to a Victim?

According to the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the following listed are the remedies available to a victim under section 65 of the FSS Act, 2006:

  • Any person who by himself or by any other person manufactures a food item which may be injurious and harmful to consumer’s health or even results into death shall be held liable to pay compensation to the victim which may be exceeded to the following listed:
    • Not below Rs 5 Lakh in case of the Death;
    • Not more than Rs 3 Lakh in case of Grievous Injury;
    • Not more than Rs 1 Lakh in all other cases of Injury;

Provided that the accused is liable to pay the compensation within six months. However, in the case of death, an interim relief must be offered to the victim’s family within thirty days.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. Who is responsible for the implementation of the FSS Act?

    The State Food Authorities (Commissioner of the Food Safety of the States) are responsible for the implementation of the FSS Act in the States.

  • 2. Where can an individual file a complaint about the poor quality of the food bought from a restaurant or shop?

    An individual can directly file a complaint to the Designated Officer or the Food Safety Officer of the concerned area. Moreover, one can even file a complaint to the Food Safety Commissioner of the respective State.

  • 3. What is Food Safety?

    The term Food Safety is a scientific discipline dealing with the preparation, handling, and storage of the food items in a way that prevent foodborne disease. This consists of several routines that must be abiding by to evade potentially severe health threats.

  • 4. What are Adulterants?

    According to section 3 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the term Adulterants means those constituents which are used for manufacturing the food products hazardous for human consumption affects the retail public.

  • 5. What are the Methods of Food Adulteration?

    The listed below are the methods of Food Adulteration:
    a) Mixing: Mingling of stones, clay, pebbles, marble chips, and, sand, etc.
    b) Substitution: Inferior and cheaper materials being substituted entirely or in part with good ones.
    c) Concealing Quality: Attempting to conceal the food standard. E.G. adding descriptions of qualitative food to low quality for selling.
    d) Decomposed food: Primarily in fruits and vegetables the rotten and decomposed ones are mixed with good ones.
    e) False Labels/ Misbranding: Includes changing of manufacture and expiry dates, duplicate foodstuffs.
    f) Addition of Toxicants: Addition of non-edible material such as argemone in mustard oil, colouring agents, or low-quality preservatives, etc.

  • 6. What is meant by the term Food Adulteration?

    The term Food Adulteration can be described as the practice of adulterating, or contaminating food materials by mixing few substances which are together known as the adulterants.

  • 7. When does any Deficiency in Service on part of the Food Service Provider happens?

    a) Delivery of the wrong food item;
    b) Non-delivery of the ordered food item;
    c) Delivery of the stealthy food;
    d) No on-time food delivery;
    e) Serving of stale food, etc.

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