India is known world over as “The Home of Spices.” It is a leader in the global spice market and caters to around 48 percent of the demand for spices across the world. Spices are consumed in various forms such as whole spices, ground spices, oleoresins, extracts etc. Spices play an important role in enhancing the flavour and taste of processed foods. They are also used in medicine because of their carminative stimulating and digestive properties.
Spices are high in value, and are often sold in ground or powdered form, making them a prime target for adulteration. Ground spices are often substituted with fillers, less expensive/low quality spices, flour, corn starch, sawdust etc. Sometimes toxic and potentially carcinogenic dyes are also added to older stocks to enhance their appearance and hide the presence of fillers. For example, metanil yellow colour and lead chromate used in turmeric; Sudan 1, a red dye, in chilli powder which is a category 3 carcinogen.
Adulteration is primarily intended for economic gains. However, it may lead to serious health risks for the public. Consumption of adulterated spices for prolonged periods may result in stomach disorders, cancer, vomiting, diarrhoea, ulcers, liver disorders, skin disorders, neurotoxicity, etc.
Common adulteration in ground spices:
Adulteration in ground spices can be checked at home by using simple test methods listed in Detect Adulteration with Rapid Test (DART) booklet published by FSSAI. This booklet is a compilation of common quick tests for detection of food adulterants at household level by citizens themselves.
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