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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 125-126

Public health interventions to combat the menace of food adulteration in developing countries

Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Kancheepuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication9-Sep-2014

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, 3rd Floor, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Thiruporur-Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai Village, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram 603 108, Tamil Nadu
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DOI: 10.4103/1119-0388.140439

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It has been estimated that more than 200 diseases are spread through the medium of food. The practice of adulteration of food is a serious threat to health of the members of community. From the consumer point of view, firstly, he is paying more money for a foodstuff of lower quality and secondly, some forms of adulteration are injurious to health, even resulting to death. To conclude, realizing the scope of adulteration and the associated detrimental effects on the health of a consumer, there is an urgent need to formulate sound and holistic strategies to enhance the food safety standards.

Keywords: Adulteration, developing countries, food, food adulteration, food safety, public health, public health interventions

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Public health interventions to combat the menace of food adulteration in developing countries. Trop J Med Res 2014;17:125-6

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Public health interventions to combat the menace of food adulteration in developing countries. Trop J Med Res [serial online] 2014 [cited 2019 Nov 22];17:125-6. Available from: http://www.tjmrjournal.org/text.asp?2014/17/2/125/140439

Food is one of the basic needs for all people, and thus should be safe and wholesome. The practice of adulteration of food is a serious threat to health of the members of community and it eventually affects the overall quality of life of people. [1] A food article is deemed to be adulterated if 'it is not of the quality as desired by the consumer; if the food contains some other ingredients that alters the food quality; if the food commodity is replaced by a sub-standard component; or if it contains any poisonous substance. [2] The characteristics of food adulteration and contamination may vary from place to place or there could be newer adulterants, as a result of changing environmental factors, like non-seasonal rains or improved production/cultivation practices. Broadly adulteration is of three types, namely intentional adulteration (viz. addition of sand, mud, water, and mineral oils, etc.); metallic contamination (viz. arsenic from pesticides, lead from water, and tin from cans, etc.); and incidental adulterants such as pesticide residues or larvae in foods, etc. [3]

Food safety is a public health priority and encompasses of measures to ensure that foods are safe to the maximum possible extent. [4] Globally, out of every ten deaths in under-five year child, one is attributed to diarrheal disease, most of which are reported from the sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia region. [5] Furthermore, millions of people become ill and even thousands may die secondary to consuming unsafe food. [5]

Realizing the magnitude of the food-borne diseases, member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the year 2000 adopted a resolution to acknowledge food safety as an essential public health priority. [6] The aim of the resolution was to develop suitable, integrated food safety systems for reducing the consumer risk. [6] From the developing countries' perspectives, the food safety concern is even more as their first priority is to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by ensuring adequate access to the food rather than maintaining the wholesome quality of the food. [7] However, increased agricultural output, globalization and international migration have further exaggerated the food safety concerns. [7]

Although adulteration primarily thrives in periods of shortages, there can be multiple reasons for the rising trend of the same, varying from availability of too many products in the market; poor buying practices of consumers; the consumer mentality of bargaining; the easy availability of adulterants in the market; poor awareness among the consumers; and weak existing legislative measures. [3],[8]

To combat the problem of adulteration, there is an immense need that the policy makers and scientific community consider food safety as an important priority. [4] In addition, the government should advocate the five key strategies recommended by the WHO, namely maintain cleanliness; raw and cooked food should be kept separate; thorough cooking of all food items; storage of food at recommended temperatures; and ensuring the use of safe water and raw materials. [4] Further, everyone involved in the food chain should be educated about their role in maintaining the safety of food. [4] Other measures such as formulation of a comprehensive food safety and standard act; strict implementation of the act and stringent punishment measures for the offenders; developing appropriate guidelines for the better utilization of hazard appraisal and critical control point (HACCP) system; educating children on safe food handling behaviors in schools; avoiding overcooking when frying, grilling or baking food; creating awareness among the public about adulteration practices; creating agencies that are equally distributed geographically to assess the overall quality of the food; devising newer and cost-effective methods to detect adulteration of different types of foods; and developing international linkages with health care organizations working in the field of sustaining food safety; can also be implemented to achieve long-term benefits for the consumers. [2],[3],[9],[10],[11],[12]

To conclude, scientifically sound and comprehensive interventions are desired to cover the entire food chain right from the stage of production till human consumption to reduce the magnitude of food-borne diseases globally.

  References Top

1.Sudershan RV, Rao P, Polasa K. Food safety research in India: A review. As J Food Ag-Ind 2009;2:412-33.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Park K. Nutrition and health. In: Park K, editor. Textbook of Preventive and Social Medicine. 20 th ed. Jabalpur: Banarsidas Bhanot; 2009. p. 572-3.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Gupta N, Panchal P. Extent of awareness and food adulteration detection in selected food items purchased by home makers. Pak J Nutrition 2009;8:660-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.World Health Organization. Ten facts on food safety; 2009. Available from: http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/food_safety/en/index.html. [Last accessed on 2014 Jan 22].  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Liu L, Johnson HL, Cousens S, Perin J, Scott S, Lawn JE, et al. Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group of WHO and UNICEF. Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality: An updated systematic analysis for 2010 with time trends since 2000. Lancet 2012;379:2151-61.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.World Health Organization. Food safety; 2014. Available from: http://www.who.int/topics/food_safety/en/. [Last accessed on 2014 Jan 22].  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Marler B. Food safety and the global supply chain. J Environ Health 2013;76:48-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Schell LM, Gallo MV, Cook K. What's NOT to eat--food adulteration in the context of human biology. Am J Hum Biol 2012;24:139-48.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Agyei-Baffour P, Sekyere KB, Addy EA. Policy on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and adherence to food preparation guidelines: A cross sectional survey of stakeholders in food service in Kumasi, Ghana. BMC Res Notes 2013;6:442.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Campos Motta TM, Hoff RB, Barreto F, Andrade RB, Lorenzini DM, Meneghini LZ, et al. Detection and confirmation of milk adulteration with cheese whey using proteomic-like sample preparation and liquid chromatography-electrospray-tandem mass spectrometry analysis. Talanta 2014;120:498-505.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Doosti A, Ghasemi Dehkordi P, Rahimi E. Molecular assay to fraud identification of meat products. J Food Sci Technol 2014;51:148-52.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Ellis DI, Brewster VL, Dunn WB, Allwood JW, Golovanov AP, Goodacre R. Fingerprinting food: Current technologies for the detection of food adulteration and contamination. Chem Soc Rev 2012;41:5706-27.  Back to cited text no. 12

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