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Tests to Detect Adulteration in Commonly used Foods


Tests to Detect Adulteration in Commonly used Foods


To safeguard consumer rights and also their health, it is very important to have simple methods to detect adulterants at least in foods that we consume on a regular basis. This will ensure that food safety is a priority and will decrease any health risks caused by adulteration.

Following are some easy tests we can do at home to see if our food is adulterated.

Red chilli powder

One of the most commonly adulterated food products is red chilli powder. Take a glass of water and add a teaspoon of red chilli powder. If there is any artificial colour the water becomes coloured.  Sprinkle some red chilli powder on the top of the water in a glass. If streaks of colour appear in the water that indicates that there is an artificial colour in that sample of red chilli powder.

If you rub the sediment at the bottom of the glass and you feel any grittiness or sandiness that may indicate the presence of brick powder or sand and any white residue at the bottom it shows the existence of soapstone.


Take a spoon of salt you want to test and add it to a glass of water. Stir it well, salt should dissolve in water. If the water becomes white that shows the presence of chalk powder in the salt. If there is a sediment that indicates the presence of impurities.

Iodized salt

If you would like to know whether the salt you bought is iodized or not as it claims to be you can do this simple test. Cut a potato and on the exposed part rub a little iodized salt and after a minute add two drops of lemon juice. If the salt you have rubbed on potato is iodized the potato surface turns blue. If the salt is not iodized there will be no blue colour.


Exhausted cloves that is, the valuable volatile oil has already been extracted are used to adulterates cloves. If you observe carefully these exhausted cloves are smaller and shrunken in appearance. And the distinct pungent aroma of cloves is less pronounced in these exhausted cloves.

Cumin seeds

Grass seeds are coloured with charcoal dust and used to adulterate cumin seeds. If you take cumin seeds and rub between your palms if they leave a black colour on your palms that means the cumin sample is adulterated.


Cassia bark is used as an adulterant in the case of cinnamon. If you examine carefully cinnamon bark is very thin and can be rolled even around a pencil or pen. Cassia bark has several layers in between the outer and inner layers. If examined with care these differences can be seen.

Coffee powder

Usually, chicory root powder is used to adulterate coffee powder. Take a glass of water and add a spoon of coffee powder. If it is adulterated with chicory powder the coffee powder will float whereas the chicory powder will sink to the bottom of the glass.

All of the above tests can be easily conducted at home. There is no need for any chemicals or special equipment. Be careful when you buy food products because adulterated foods may cause serious health problems.

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