fight food adulteration

Interesting ways to turn your kids into food inspectors

Safe food means a lot to me as an aware mother. Like what temperature to freeze chicken at. Whether or not to boil milk? To have fresh fruit juice from a vendor or make your own or have juice in Tetra Pak cartons? And whether the food in your pantry is pure or adulterated. Really, if you think the food department can regulate quality that well, why have lead and mercury become a part of our staple diet?

Oh you do not need a bio-lab for testing these out. Just very simple, mundane kitchen items like water, lemon etc. Where do I get my smarts you’re thinking? Well I finished my Nutrition Quotient online course (NQ) on food safety, nutrition and packaging initiated by Tetra Pak under the aegis of the Indian Medical Association, the Indian Dietetic Association and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences [Department of Community Medicine].  

Turns out some basic testing at home can turn us and our kids into safe food ambassadors for our family. Making our kids aware of adulteration and how it is bad for them is a good start. So let’s arm them with good knowledge and heightened awareness. After all it is not just the junk food they need to stay away from.

Age: 4+ to enjoy but 8+ to understand
You will need:
Lemon Juice
Cotton wick

Common adulterants: Washing powder.
How to detect: Just squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on the ice cream. If your ice cream starts to froth and bubble like soap and shampoo, you can be sure it has washing powder.
Dangerous effects: Consuming washing powder can lead to severe stomach and liver disorders. In the long-term it has ingredients that are carcinogenic (cause cancer) and mutagenic (can alter DNA makeup).

Common adulterants: Chalk powder
How to detect: Dissolve approximately 10gms of sugar in water. Chalk powder, if present, will settle in the bottom.
Dangerous effects: Could be harmful to a person with allergies.

Common adulterants: Metanil Yellow (non-permitted food colour)
How to detect: Dissolve half a spoon full of turmeric powder in 20ml of lukewarm water. Add a few drops of lemon juice. If the water turns pink, violet or purple, it shows the presence of Metanil yellow.
Dangerous effects: It’s highly carcinogenic and long time consumption can lead to neurotoxicity (damage to nervous tissues).

Iodised salt
Common adulterants: Common salt
How to detect: Take a slice of potato and rub some salt over it. Squeeze a lemon over it. Appearance of blue color indicates that the salt is iodised and if no blue colour appears, the salt is not iodised. 

Common adulterants: Water
How to detect: Place a drop of milk on a straight surface. If the milk drop runs into one direction, then it has water mixed in it.
Harmful effects: Unhygienic water can cause stomach disorders apart from lowering the nutritional value.

Common adulterants: Sugar solution
How to detect: Dip a cotton wick in honey and light it. If the honey is impure the wick will not burn. This test is only sugar dissolved in water.
Harmful effects: You get no nutritional benefit from consuming adulterated honey.

Tea leaves
Common adulterants: Iron fillings
How to detect: Move a magnet over the tea powder, iron filings will be pulled out.

Harmful effects: Iron fillings are present in tea leaves because of the nature of its processing. In certain countries, a maximum limit of iron filling is set, but in India the limit is almost four to five times higher than that. Its overload can cause osteoporosis, scurvy, diabetes, heart failure, cancer and more.

If you want to know more about safe food and nutrition, you can log on to the NQ course online. Interestingly, this is also where I started my journey as Tetra Pak Safe Food Ambassador.

Comments (1)

Gift your family a safe-food Diwali - KetchupMoms Posted on Nov 10, 2015

[…] 3) Let your favourite brands also pass the acid test:  If you feel anything amiss with your favourite milk packets, ghee containers or paneer pouches may we suggest these in-home simple adulteration check. A simple way to ensure you enjoy a safe-food Diwali . […]


Charu Chhitwal

Charu Chhitwal, Founder KetchupMoms has daring tastebuds, a love for travel and an owl for her soul. It’s little wonder then that she loves to write and share her tips and tricks on traveling, food,

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