Stay Away from Adulterated Sweets this Diwali

Diwali is just around the corner and the preparations are at its peak. The markets are flooded with lights, idols of gods and goddesses, gifts, chocolates and the ever-tempting sweets.

The tradition of distributing sweets to friends and family on Diwali is very old but the quality of sweets is just not the same anymore. The sweets are no longer that sweet, thanks to the soaring prices and the adulterated sub-standard materials added onto it.

There is a swarm of people going out and purchasing sweets these days. In order to complete the avalanche of orders and to make extra money, the shopkeepers mix the sweets with cheap or sub-standard items and sell at the rates of real things.

The adulterated sweets are not only priced equivalent to the real sweets and dupe the customers but also puts your health at risk. Several infections and diseases are extremely deadly and can have serious negative consequences.

Adulteration of sweets has become a common scenario, especially during the festive days when there are bulk orders. Many sweets of paneer and milk are adulterated with soybean flour and starch, detergent, refined oil, dry milk etc.

The mouth-watering pethas and laddoos are commonly adulterated with metanil yellow. Half of the bakery products are adulterated with substandard flour and low-grade fat.

Consuming such adulterated sweets can lead to stomach disorder, liver-kidney problems, nutrient deficiency, skin diseases etc.

This Diwali, keep away from adulterated sweets. For those of you, who make these sweets at home, you better stay away from adulterated raw-materials. We bring out some simple tests that you can perform at home and check for adulteration of your raw materials.

1. Milk: An essential component of various sweet dish preparations and can easily be adulterated by simply adding water to it. Not harmful to the consumers but still lowers the quality of the sweets. Adulterated milk can be easily tested by placing a drop of milk on a slanting surface; the diluted milk glides down quickly and will not leave any mark, whereas the pure milk glides down slowly, leaving a white trail behind.

2. Khoya, Paneer and Chhena: Commonly used for the preparation of traditional Diwali sweets, and are often adulterated with starch. Boil a small sample in water, cool it down and add a few drops of iodine solution. A blue colour indicates the presence of starch.

3. Silver Coating or Vark: Silver coating (vark) used to decorate sweets is made from silver. Silver must be 99.9% pure if it is to be used as a food ingredient. With silver becoming expensive, many sweet shop owners use silver vark that contains aluminium.

Silver vark is very fine and will disintegrate when rubbed between the fingers. Aluminium is not that fine and if rubbed it will roll up into a ball. Also, the adulterated silver foil will not spread out so smoothly but tends to break.

You can also perform another test if possible. Place a bowl of hydrochloric acid (HCL) and put in the vark. Original vark won’t dissolve, whereas the aluminium one will dissolve completely.

4. Ghee and Vanaspati: Ghee can be adulterated with animal fat which increases the risk serum cholesterol and triglycerides levels. To detect adulteration in ghee, dissolve a spoon of sugar in 10ml of HCL and add 10 ml of heated ghee or butter to it. If a red colour appears, that indicated adulteration.

5. Chocolates: The gifting preferences have changed over time and people are now switching to chocolates. However, adulterated chocolates can have starch mixed in the cocoa and could also have low quality sugar. Starch is used to increase the weight of cocoa. Starch adulteration in chocolates can be tested by adding water. If the chocolate becomes grainy and breaks, it is adulterated and sub-standard.

6. Flour: Flours are used to make sweets, savouries and bakery products. They are mixed with cheaper flours or substances that can increase the weight of the flours like plaster of Paris, sawdust, chalk, clay and starch. To detect starch in flours, add a few drops of tincture iodine or iodine solution. If it turns blue, it has starch.

7. Artificial colours: Metanil Yellow and Tartrazine colours are not permitted for use in foods. Besan is often coloured with metanil yellow to give it an appealing look. Tartrazine is commonly used in ghee to make it look like a pure cow’s ghee. Non-permitted colours are harmful to the central nervous system.

8. Sugar: Powdered sugar can be mixed with powdered chalk, washing soda or white sand. Since sugar dissolves in water, its testing is easy. Pure sugar will dissolve in water and the adulterants will settle at the bottom.

Diwali is a festival of joy and happiness, don’t spoil it by eating adulterated sweets. This Diwali, we urge you to eat healthily and stay healthy.

Wishing you a safe and happy Diwali!

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