Posted on: May 11, 2018 at 1:58 pm
Last updated: October 5, 2018 at 12:29 pm

You’re at the grocery store, hand selecting your typical items, all the while recurring questions play on your mind.  Are these safe? Do these contain food additives?  Are they processed?  How processed are they? Do they contain food dye?  The food industry can bring many questions to mind, we’ve all been there.  The answers to these questions may not be settling to the ears.

Truth is, many common food items are likely to have gone through some form of processing.  For instance, food dyes are added to give food glow,  food additives are used to give bulk, imposter ingredients are added to save on product cost, waxes are used to give food that illustrious shine and the tricks don’t end there.

How to Tell If Your Food Has Been Altered

The term given to this type of food processing is called adulteration.  When purchasing adulterated food, not only is the consumer being duped on quality, but adulteration can produce harmful effects on a person’s health.  However, there are methods people can practice to avoid being the victim of food adulteration by the food industry.  Using these adulteration hacks can ensure you’re receiving the quality food items you deserve from the food industry.

1- Detergent in Milk

How to detect detergent in milk.

Why it’s adulterated: Detergent increases the foaming of milk to give it whiteness and thickness.

  • Take 5-10ml of a sample with an equal amount of water.
  • Shake the contents thoroughly.
  • Milk adulterated with detergent forms a dense lather.
  • Pure milk will form a very thin lather due to agitation.

2- Coconut Oil Diluted with Other Oils

Food industry-coconuts and coconut oil in jars


How to detect other oils in coconut oil.

Why it’s adulterated: Coconut oil is in large demand and often the supply of coconut oil fails to meet demand.  Thus, coconut oil filler is used to supplement demand (4).

  • Take coconut oil in a transparent glass.
  • Place this glass in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • After refrigeration, coconut oil solidifies.
  • If coconut oil is adulterated, then other oils remain as a separate layer.

3- Sugar Added to Honey

How to detect sugar solution in honey.

Why it’s adulterated: Honey is a valuable commodity, while sugar is cheaper.  Sugar is a serviceable imposter of honey, as the main component of both is carbohydrates and water (5).

  • Take a transparent glass of water.
  • Add a drop of honey to the glass.
  • Pure honey will not disperse in water.
  • If honey disperses, sugar is present.

4- Impurities and Bleach in Flour

How to detect impurities and bleach in flour.

Why it’s adulterated: Wheat flour is often adulterated with pebble straw, dust, weed seeds, and damaged grains which serve as food additives to provide bulk and save on production costs.

Bleach serves as a food dye to make flour look clean and white, it also helps speed up the aging process.

  • Visual examination can help you distinguish between grains and added impurities.
  • Pour a sample on a clean sheet.
  • Under close examination, impurities will be detectable.

Detecting bleach in flour (4):

  • Bleached flour will have a bright hue and fine grain.
  • Unbleached flour will look pale and off-white, with a dense grain.

5- Not So “Green” Peas

food dyes-green peas in a bowl-on a table

Why it’s adulterated:  Food dye is added to peas to increase brightness and make peas more appealing to the eye.

  • Add a tablespoon of green peas to a transparent glass.
  • Add half a cup of water and mix well.
  • Let it stand for half an hour.
  • If the water remains clear, adulteration is absent. If the water gains color, adulteration is present.

6- Clay Mixed With Coffee

How to detect clay in coffee powder.

Why it’s adulterated: Clay can add fullness to coffee and allows companies to save money on production.

  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of coffee powder in a transparent glass of water.
  • Stir for a minute and keep it aside for 5 minutes. Observe the glass at the bottom.
  • Pure coffee powder will sit at the top of the water.
  • Clay particles at the bottom of the glass indicate adulteration.

7- Yellow Food Dye in Rice

How to detect metanil yellow in sella rice.

Why it’s adulterated:  Metanil yellow acts as a food dye to enhance the appearance of rice.

  • Rub a few grains in the palm of two hands.
  • Yellow will reduce or disappear indicating metanil yellow.
  • Your hands may also contain a yellow substance, indicating adulteration.

8- Wax Coating on Fruit


food additives-red wax apples on a plate

How to detect wax polishing on an apple.

  • Take a blade and scratch the surface of the apple.
  • Wax comes out if wax polishing has been done.

9- Washing Powder in Ice Cream

How to detect washing powder in ice cream.

Why it’s adulterated: Adds a bright white sheen and lightness of flavor.

  • Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on the ice cream.
  • If the ice cream starts to froth or bubble, washing powder is present.

10- Artificial Color in Turmeric

How to detect artificial dye in turmeric powder.

Why it’s adulterated: To give traditional turmeric color.  Common dyes used are metanil yellow, chalk powder and lead chromate (7).

  • Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of water.
  • Natural turmeric powder leaves a light yellow color while settling to the bottom of the glass.
  • Adulterated turmeric powder will leave a strong yellow color in water while settling to the bottom of the glass.

Be Diligent

Everyone wants to believe they can go to the grocery store with the assurance they’re buying safe, clean items.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  Though, being aware of foods prone to adulteration by food additives and food dye gives you a fighting chance in practicing healthy food consumption.  Don’t be afraid to give these hacks a try, and as always, stay informed.



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