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Food adulteration eating away your wellbeing/ health?

by Abhishek Shankar
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If there is reoccurring illness and fatigue in your family and you also experience similar challenges, then you know that it is time to take charge and concentrate on improving health and overall wellbeing. But at the same time you might want to revisit the quality of food that you and your family are having. Things like stomach infections, diarrhoea, allergic reactions, nausea even diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, might be caused by consuming adulterated food once or continuously. Unknowingly, you might be falling victim of food fraud or food adulteration.

We are all aware that food adulteration and counterfeit food products are quite common, but are we really careful to check if we are becoming a target of it? Unfortunately, food adulteration and selling fake food items is one of the most heinous crimes committed against humans. But at the same time it is take very casually.

89 percent of consumers are aware about the presence of fake products in the market according to a recent study by ASPA (Authentication Solutions Providers’ Association), it also revealed that people believe 25 to 30 percent products in the market are fake. Sadly, 31 percent people (consumers) are willing to buy a product even when they know it is a fake and even food items.

One often comes across products such as ghee, milk, paneer, oil, spices, etc. which are adulterated with harmful and dangerous substances like lead, stone dust, grass paste, cow dung or horse dung, chemicals, etc. There is a flood of adulterated products sold without packaging and on the other hand fake mineral water bottles, fake candies, chips, biscuits, etc. are also commonly available.

Have you ever held a bottle of mineral water in your hand and notice the label and immediately know that it is a copycat product of a famous brand, still you have purchased it and consumed it?

Having these adulterated and fake food items which are made with low quality ingredients or are mixed with harmful substances may sometimes affect the health immediately. In some cases, there might not be an immediate effect but consuming these products over a time could adversely affect the health and wellbeing. These unfit foods could make the body weak against illnesses and lead to serious conditions.

How to avoid falling prey to adulterated and fake food?
Avoid buying open food items and ingredients – choose buying packaged spices, ghee, oil, etc. Open products are easy to mix with other substances and packaging is developed to protect the food inside.
Check the packaging of the product before buying – counterfeiters have become very smart and they develop very close copycat packaging and labels, but they cannot make perfect replicas. Look for difference in the name and spellings or smudged labels, etc. Never buy a product which you think is a fake.

Buy food items from authorised vendor or shops and take the bill for your purchase. A lot of people do not bother taking the bill while purchasing which is wrong. It is important to understand that if the food product you have purchased is faulty and causes illness, then the bill can help in pinning the responsibility on the people involved in selling these dangerous products.
Be careful while buying products online – fake packaged products are often sold online so one should be extremely careful while shopping online. If you are doubtful about the product’s authenticity, then return it and report it.
Check Authenticity of the product before buying – One should be aware that there are ways to know the authenticity of a product before buying it, some brands apply authentication solutions on the packaging of the product. Brands usually implement Phygital solutions (Physical + Digital = Phygital). Look for solutions such as holograms, tamper-evident labels, barcodes, QR Codes, Unique Serial Numbers, etc. that can digitally reveal the authenticity of the product. Invest a few seconds to make sure that the product you are buying is an authentic product and then only purchase it.

Don’t let fake and adulterated food ruin the health and wellbeing of your loved ones and you. Safe shopping.

The author is former the President of ASPA (Authentication Solution Providers’ Association).

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