Food Adulteration – Contamination of foods with harmful micro organisms, Metallic contamination, Packaging hazards, Other adulterants, Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA 1954), Monosodium Glutamate – (MSG / E621), Common Food Dyes

Food Services Management

Contamination of foods with harmful micro organisms

Some raw foods like meat, fish, milk and vegetables grown on sewage are likely to be contaminated with harmful microorganisms. These are generally destroyed during cooking or processing of food. Some of the micro organisms may survive due to inadequate heat processing. Even, low moisture foods when stored in humid atmosphere get infected with pathogenic fungus which causes serious illness.

Metallic contamination

Contamination of food with lead can cause toxic symptoms. Lead brings about pathological changes in the kidney, liver, and arteries. The common signs of lead poisoning are nausea, abdominal pain, anaemia, insomnia, muscular paralysis and brain damage. Fish caught from water contaminated with mercury salt contains large amount of mercury. The other elements which are toxic in small doses are cadmium, arsenic, antimony and cobalt.

Packaging hazards

Polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride and other allied compounds are used to produce flexible packaging material. While this method of packaging is very convenient, it must not contain any noxious thermal breakdown products which could be injurious to health. Further, temperatures used for sealing or sterilization should not result in formation of toxic residues. Therefore, it is essential to use food grade plastic packaging materials for packaging foods.

Other adulterants

Pests such as rats, rodents and insects introduce into the food a high degree of filth in the form of excreta, bodily secretions and spoilage microorganisms. Chemicals like DDT are absorbed by the small intestine when ingested. The toxins usually pile up in the fatty tissues of such vital organs as the thyroid, heart, kidney, liver, mammary gland and damage these organs.

This incidental poisoning can be prevented by:

☆Regular market surveys to warn people on the dangerous build-up of toxins in food.

☆Stepping up the integrated pest management programme to teach farmers to use pesticides judiciously. No spraying should be done a week before harvest.

☆Using safer pesticides

☆Washing vegetables thoroughly before cooking.

Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA 1954)

Keeping the large scale adulteration in view, legislation was passed called Prevention of Food Adulteration Act in the year 1954 with the objectives to

☆Ensure pure and wholesome food to the consumers and also to prevent fraud or deception.

☆Protect the public from poisonous and harmful food.

☆Prevent the sale of substandard foods.

☆Protect the interests of the consumers by eliminating fraudulent practices.

Food additives

Food additives have been used for centuries to enhance the appearance and flavour of food and prolong shelf life. Food additives find their way into the foods to help ease processing, packaging, and storage. Some additives have been used for centuries; for example, preserving food by pickling as with vinegar, salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or using sulphur dioxide as with wines.

Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame is found in foods labelled “diet” or “sugar-free”. Aspartame is believed to be carcinogenic, neurotoxin and accounts for more reports of adverse reactions than all other foods and food additives combined.

It is found in diet or sugar-free sodas, diet coke, coke zero, desserts, sugar-free gum, drink mixes, baking goods, table top sweeteners, cereal, breath mints, ice tea, chewable vitamins and toothpaste.

Monosodium Glutamate- (MSG / E621)

MSG commonly known as Aginomoto is an amino acid used as a flavour enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, instant noodles, Chinese foods and many restaurant foods. Studies show that regular consumption of MSG may result in adverse side effects which include depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity. MSG affects the neurological pathways of the brain.

Trans Fat

Trans fat is found in deep-fried fast foods, chips and crackers, baked goods, and certain processed foods made with margarine or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Trans fats are formed by a process called hydrogenation. Numerous studies show that trans fat increase LDL cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL or good cholesterol, increases the risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes, and contributes to increased inflammation, diabetes, and other health problems.

Common Food Dyes

Artificial colourings which are found in soda, fruit juices, and salad dressings, may contribute to behavioural problems in children and lead to a significant reduction in IQ.

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