List of Food Adulterants

Below is the List of Food Adulterants and their effects on our health:

Sr. No Adulterants Foods Commonly Used Diseases or Health Effects
Adulterants in Food
1. Argemone Seeds

Argemone Oil

Mustard Seeds

Edible Oils and Fats

Epidemic Dropsy


Cardiac arrest

2. Artificially coloured foreign seeds As a substitute for cumin seed,

Poppy seed, black pepper

Injurious to health
3. Foreign leaves or exhausted tea leaves, saw dust artificially coloured Tea Injurious to health, cancer
4. TCP Oils Paralysis
5. Rancid Oil Oils Destroys Vitamin A and E
6. Sand, marble chips, stones, filth Food grains, pulses etc. Damage digestive tract
7. Lathyrus Sativus Khesari dal alone or mixed in other pulses Lathyrism (crippling spastic paraplegia)
Chemical Contamination
8. Mineral Oil (white oil, petroleum fractions) Edible oils and fats, Black pepper Cancer
9. Leadchromate Turmeric whole and powdered, mixed spices Anemia, abortion, paralysis, brain damage
10. Methanol Alcoholic liquors Blurred vision, blindness, death
11. Arsenic Fruits such as apples, sprayed over with lead arsenate Dizziness, chills, cramps, paralysis,, death
12. Barium Foods contaminated by rat poisons (Bariumcarbonate) Violent peristalisis, arterial hypertension, muscular twitching, convulsions, cardiac disturbances
13. Cadmium Fruits juices, soft drinks etc. in contact with cadmium plated vessels or equipment. Cadmium contaminated water and shell – fish. ‘Itai – itai (ouch – ouch) disease, increased salivation, acute gastritis, liver and kidney damage, prostate cancer
14. Cobalt Water, Liquors Cardiac insufficiency and mycocardial failure
15. Lead Water, natural and processed food Lead poisoning (foot – drop, insomnia, anemia, constipation, mental retardation, brain damage)
16. Copper Food Vomiting, diarrhoea
17. Tin Food Colic, vomiting
18. Zinc Food Colic, vomiting
19. Mercury Mercury fungicide treated seeds grains or mercury contaminated fish Brain damage, paralysis, death
NOTE Safe limits have been prescribed for above metals in different food. continuous use of food contaminated with these metals
20. Bacillus cereus Cereal products, custards, puddings, sauces Food infection (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea)
21. Salmonella spp. Meat and meat products, raw vegetables, salads, shell – fish, eggs and egg products, warmed up leftovers Salmonellosis (food infection usually with fever and chills)
22. Shigella sonnei Milk, potato, beans, poultry, tuna, shrimp, moist mixed foods Shigellosis ( bacillary dysentery)
23. Staphylococcus aureus Entero – toxins – A, B, C, D or E Dairy products, baked foods especially custard or cream – filled foods, meat and meat products, low acid frozen foods, salads, cream sauces etc. Increased salivation, vomiting, abdominal cramp, diarrhoea, severe thirst, cold sweats, prostration
24. Clostridium botulinus toxins A,B, E or F Defectively canned low or medium – acid foods, meats, sausages, smoked vacuum – packed fish, fermented food etc. Botulism (double vision, muscular paralysis, death due to respiratory failure)


25. Clostridium perfringens (Welchii) type A Milk improperly processed or canned meats, fish and gravy stocks Nausea, abdominal pains, diarrhoea, gas formation
26. Diethyl stilbestrol (additive in animal) Meat Sterlites, fibroid tumors etc.
27. 3, 4 Benzopyrene Skoked food Cancer
28. Excessive solvent residue Solvent extracted oil, oil cake etc. Carcinogenic effect
29. Non – food grade or contaminated packing material Food Blood clot, angiosarcoma, cancer etc.
30. Non – permitted colour or permitted food colour beyond safe limit Coloured food Mental retardation, cancer and other toxic effect.
31. BHA and BHT beyond safe limit Oils and fats Allergy, liver damage, increase in serum chloresterol etc.
32. Monosodium glutamate (flour) (beyond safe limit) Chinese food, meat and meat products Brain damage, mental retardation in infants
33. Coumarin and dihydro coumarin Flavoured food Blood anticoagulant
34. Food flavours beyond safe limit Flavoured food Chances of liver cancer
35. Brominated vegetable oils Cold drinks Anemia, enlargement of heart
36. Sulphur dioxide and sulphite beyond safe limit In variety of food as preservative Acute irritation of the gastro – intestinal tracts etc.
37. Artificial sweeteners beyond safe limit Sweet foods Chances of cancer
  Fungal Contamination
38. Ergot alkaloids from Claviceps purpurea

Toxic alkaloids, ergotamine, ergotoxin and ergometrine groups

Ergot – infested bajra, rye meal or bread Ergotism (St. Anthony’s fire burning sensation in extremities, itching of skin, peripheral gangrene)
39. Alfatoxins Aspergillus flavus – contaminated foods such as groundnuts, cottonseed etc. Liver damage and cancer
40. Toxins from Fusarium sporotrichiella Moist grains Urov disease (kaschin – Beck disease)
41. Toxins from Fusarium sporotrichioides Grains (millet, wheat, oats, rye etc.) Alimentary toxic aleukia (ATA) (epidemic panmyelotoxicosis)
42. Toxins from

Penicillium inslandicum

Penicillium citreovirede

Fusarium, Rhizopus, Aspergillus

Yellow Rice Toxic mouldy rice disease
43. Sterigmatocystin from Aspergillus versicolour

Aspergillus nidulans and bipolaris

Foodgrains Hepatitis
44. Ascaris lumbricoides Any raw food or water contaminated by human faeces containing eggs of the parasite Ascariasis
45. Entamoeba histolytica Viral Raw vegetables and fruits Amoebic dysentery
46. Virus of infectious Hepatitis (A) Shell – fish, milk, unheated foods contaminated with faeces, urine and blood of infected human Infectious hepatitis
47. Machupo virus Foods contaminated with rodents urine, such as ccereals Bolivian haemorrhagic fever
  Natural Contamination
48. Fluoride Drinking water, sea foods, tea etc. Excess fluoride causes fluorosis (mottling of teeth, skeletal and neurological disorders)
49. Oxalic acid Spinach, amaranth etc. Renal calculi, cramps, failure of blood to clot
50. Gossypol Cottonseed flour and cake Cancer
51. Polycyclic aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) Smoked fish, meat, mineral oil – contaminated water, oils, fats and fish, especially shell – fish Cancer
52. Cyanogenetic compounds Bitter almonds, apple seeds, cassava, some beans etc. Gastro – intestinal disturbances
53. Phalloidine (alkaloid) Toxic mushrooms Mushroom poisoning (Hypoglycemia, convulsions, profuse watery stools, severe necrosis of liver leading to hepatic failure and death)
54. Solanine Potatoes Solanine poisoning (vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea)
55. Nitrate and nitrites Drinking water, spinach, rhubarb, asparagus, etc. and meat products Methaemoglobinaemia especially in infants, cancer and tumours in the liver, kidney, trachea oesophagus and lungs. The liver is the initial site but afterwards tumours appear in other organs.
56. Asbestos (may be presentin talc, Kaolin etc. and in processed foods) Polished rice, pulses, processed foods containing anti – caking agents etc. Absorption in particulate form by the body may produce cancer
57. Pesticide residues (beyond safe limit) All types of food Acute or chronic poisoning with damage to nerves and vital organs like liver kidney etc.
58. Antibiotic beyond safe limits Meats from antibiotic – fed animals Multiple drug resistance hardening of arteries, heart disease.


Sources :

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