Beware! Spices like Turmeric, Red Chillies in your kitchen can be prone to adulteration, check FSSAI guidelines

Swapna Raghu Sanand
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Beware of food adulteration! Ever wondered how safe and hygienic are the spices you use in your kitchen? In most Indian homes, spices are the soul of cooking. Be it adrak chai in winters, elaichi chai in summers or even haldi doodh or biryani or a delicious paneer dish, flavours in Indian cuisine are laced with the taste of spices.

As you already know, food adulteration is rampant and Indian spices are no exception. For instance, would you be able to detect ‘Sudan 1’, a red dye that is used in chili powder and is known to be category 3 carcinogen? Or that the expensive saffron you bought from a retail store may actually be filled in with coloured dried tendrils of maize cobs! Given the FSSAI’s crackdown on food adulteration, pay attention to quality when you buy spices from retail shelves. Don’t allow smart packaging to dupe you and ruin your health!

Adulteration of spices: How can we detect adulteration in food items?

Spices are high in value but sold in powdered form, making it easy for those who sell it to add ‘fillers’ to make a profit. The adulteration in food items is not easy to detect, nor are fillers that are typically used in spices.

What are the common food adulterants?

When we talk of spices, corn starch, saw dust and flour are used as ‘fillers’ in spices and these can be food adulterants depending on the quality or more precisely, the lack of quality. Keep in mind that low quality spices are used in powdered form but sold at high prices and with smart packaging.

A serious concern raised by FSSAI in its 2018 Guidance Note published on 30-07-2018 pertains to the use of toxic and carcinogenic substances that are used to add ‘colour’ to older stocks of spices. FSSAI’s guidance note cites that methanil yellow colour and lead chromate are used in ‘turmeric’.

So, why is it important to be aware of food adulteration? Remember, it can impact your health and that of others. Prolonged use of adulterated spices can cause serious stomach disorders, liver disorders, ulcers, diarrhea and cancer.

READ: Non vegetarians, pay attention!

Food adulteration: How to detect and report adulteration in spices

A safe procedure is to buy FSSAI-certified organic products. The FSSAI guideline note shares clear guidelines on the procedure:
1. Consumers can inform State Food Safety Commissioners.
2. Write in to the Food Safety Connect portal or register your complaint on the FSSAI app.
3. FSSAI guidelines on its official website provide information on issues related to food safety and how to report the same.

READ: Your favorite samosa and gulab jamun may soon be a healthy food option

Indian cuisine is known for its use of varied spices that blend together and create a fusion of flavours. Step into any Indian kitchen, the first thing that you are likely to observe is the scent of freshly cooked food with hints of spices. To detect food adulteration is not easy but with awareness and observation, it is possible to make healthier food choices for yourself and your loved ones.