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How To Test Food Adulteration At Home

The Food adulteration is addition or removal of any substances to or from the food, so that natural composition and quality is affected. Adulterated food is a impure, unsafe and not wholesome.

We in kitchens use a variety of the ingredients in everyday life. Unfortunately, in the recent years, and purity of these ingredients have become a matter of concern.

Long supply chains and the grocery stores selling loose ingredients make it impossible to track where food comes from or what sub-standard material is mixed in it.However,there is help at hand.

What Is Food Adulteration?

The Food adulteration is addition or removal of any substances to or from the food, so that natural composition and quality is affected. Adulterated food is a impure, unsafe and not wholesome. Food can be either adulterated intentionally and accidentally. Unintentional adulteration is a result of the ignorance or the lack of facilities to maintain food quality. This may be caused by the spill over effect from pesticides and fertilizers. Inappropriate the food handling and packaging methods can also result in the adulteration.

The Intentional food adulteration is usually done for the financial gain. The most common form of the intentional adulteration is color adulteration.

The Natural adulteration can occur due to presence of certain form of chemicals, organic compounds or radicals naturally occurring in the foods which are very injurious to the health and are not added to foods intentionally or unintentionally.

Some of the few examples are toxic varieties of pulses, mushrooms, green and other vegetables, fish and seafood. About 5,000 species of marine fish are known to be poisonous and many of these are among the edible varieties.

Few easy to perform tests that can reveal the presence of the adulterants in the kitchen cabinet.

With the ability to transform any form of the dish, spices are indispensable for every Indian kitchen. Distressingly, the powdered spices available in the market are often contaminated with the artificial colors and bulking agents that have the serious health implications for consumers. Here are few ways to test the products to different between original and adulterated products

Turmeric Powder

Method 1:Take some amount of turmeric powder in a transparent glass and add a few drops of water and then concentrated hydro-chloric acid to it. Next, then shake it vigorously.

A pink color to the mixture indicates presence of metanil yellow. If the mixture releases small amount of bubbles, it indicates presence of chalk powder.

To detect presence of lead chromate, mix a teaspoon of the turmeric powder with water. If adulterated, it will immediately leak streaks of the water-soluble color.

Method 2:One of easiest ways to check the adulteration is to add a teaspoon of turmeric to the glass of warm water. Do not stir it and leave it still for  while. Check after about 20 minutes or so. If powder settles down at the bottom of  glass with clear water above, the turmeric is pure. The Cloudy water indicates possible adulteration.

Adulterant: metanil yellow.

Red Chili Powder

Method: Add a small teaspoon of chili powder to glass of water and stir it. Swirl of the bright red color indicates presence of the artificial color while settling of gritty sediment at  bottom of glass indicates presence of saw dust/brick powder.

Adulterant: Artificial color, brick powder

Coriander Powder

Method:  Add about a teaspoon of the cumin powder to a glass of water and stir well. The husk will immediately start to float on the surface while pure spice will settle at the bottom of the glass.

Adulterant: Husk

Cumin Seeds/Powder

Method: Add a teaspoon of cumin powder to a glass of water and let it stay still for a few minutes. Adulterants will float on the surface while the pure spice will settle at the bottom of the glass.

The Cumin seeds, on other hands, are often mixed with the grass seeds coated with charcoal dust. Rub cumin seeds vigorously with your palms. If your palms turn black, it indicates adulteration.

Adulterant: Grass seeds colored with charcoal dust, saw dust, starch

Black Pepper

Method: Add a few pepper corns to a bowl of alcohol. The papaya seeds will sink while the real corns will stay afloat.

Adulterant: Papaya seeds

Mustard Seeds

Method: Crush or press a few amount of seeds and check them. Argemone seeds have a very rough exterior and are white inside while the mustard seeds have a smooth exterior and are yellow on inside.

Adulterant: Argemone seeds


Method:  Stir in about a spoonful of the salt in a glass full of water for a few minutes. If the mixed solution turns white and residue settles at the bottom, it indicates that the presence of chalk. A clear solution indicates the purity.

Adulterant: Chalk powder


Method:  Stir in the spoonful of salt in a glass of water. If solution turns white and the residue settles at the bottom, it indicates the presence of the chalk. A clear solution indicates the purity.

Adulterant: chalk powder

Milk/Khoya/Condensed Milk

Method 1: Mix a small sample of the product with about 20 ml of water and bring to a boil. Cool it to the room temperature in a transparent glass and add a few drops or two of iodine solution. A blue-colored solution indicates presence of starch.

Method 2: Mix about 10 ml of milk sample with an equal quantity of water and then shake the mixture vigorously. Milk adulterated with the detergent will form a dense lather while pure milk will have a thin layer of foam.

Adulterant: Starch, detergent


Method 1: Take a small teaspoon of melted ghee/butter in the test tube or in a transparent bottle. Add a small pinch of sugar, close the container and give it a bad vigorous shake. Let it then  stand for five minutes. If a red color appears at bottom of the vessel, then sample contains vegetable oil.

Method 2: Melt a small quantity of the ghee/butter and Pour it into a glass jar and then place in the fridge till it solidifies. Presence of the separate layers indicates the presence of other oils.

Method 3: Add about few drops of iodine to the two teaspoons of molten ghee. Appearance of the purple color indicates the presence of starch.

Adulterant: Vanaspati, vegetable oil, starch

Mustard Oil

Method:  Take a small amount of the mustard oil in a transparent glass and add few drops of nitric acid to it. Shake it vigorously and then heat mixture for 2-3 minutes. The appearance of the red color indicates the presence of argemone oil.

Adulterant: Argemone oil

Coconut Oil

Method: Take the sample of coconut oil in a glass jar or in a bowl and place it in fridge for 30 minutes. If it’s pure, entire sample will solidify. If the sample is adulterated,then the other oils will be seen as a separate layer.

Adulterant: Other Oils


Method:  Powder some of the dal with a pestle and mix a spoonful of it with the lukewarm water. The same can be done for the besan. Add a few small drops of hydrochloric acid to mixture. If it turns pink or very purple, it indicates that the presence of metanil yellow in it.

Adulterant: Metanil Yellow


Method: Sprinkle a small teaspoon of tea powder on a moist blotting paper. If color of the white blotting paper changes to something similar to the yellow, orange or red, it indicates the presence of the artificial color in tea powder. Pure tea leaves release color only when they are added to the hot water.

Adulterant: Used/processed tea leaves that have been the artificially colored


Method:  Add a spoonful of honey to the glass of water. If the honey disperses instantly, it indicates that the presence of glucose/sugar syrup. Pure honey is the denser form and will instead sink to bottom instead of the dissolving instantaneously.

Another test involves the mixing a tablespoon of honey, a little amount of water and about 2-3 drops of the vinegar together. If mixture results in the foaming, it indicates the possible adulteration in honey.

Adulterant: Glucose/sugar syrup, high fructose corn syrup

Green Peas, Green Chilies and Other Green Vegetables

Method 1:  Place a small sample over the moistened white blotting paper. The Green colored impressions on blotting paper indicate the presence of the malachite green.

Method 2: Take a small cotton piece soaked in the liquid paraffin and rub the exterior of the sample. If the cotton turns, green, it also indicates the presence of the chemical dye.

Method 3: Soak the sample in some amount of warm water for 30 minutes before rubbing it gently. If green color leaks into water, it indicates that presence of malachite green.

Adulterant: Malachite green



With the alarming rate at which the adulteration of food is increasing in world, it is not an exaggeration to say that the almost nothing that we eat/drink daily is safe for our health And what is further the astonishing is that all food items that I am referring to, make an essential part of our day to day balanced diet.

Now while we cannot be really be sure of when this flourishing  bad business of the food adulteration will reach its dead-end, it falls upon us to keep the safety of our good health intact and also one of the most potential ways we can do so is by simply performing these simple tests to see whether or not your food item is fit for the consumption or adulterated.(source)  (source)

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