Though many a health conscious person rests happy in the feeling that he/she has taken every precaution to ensure that only unadulterated, uncontaminated food is put on the table, there are many hidden dangers lurking in the kitchen cupboards.

Here’s a quick look at what some of the ubiquitous items on our list of food ingredients may harbor:

The processing of tea involves iron rollers, which may leave behind iron filings in the tea leaves or dust. The manufacturing process involves the use of magnets to remove these filings, but often, a sizeable amount is left behind. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India had specified a maximum limit of 150 mg of iron filings per kilo of tea, but it’s anyone’s guess how much goes into your brew. The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg for women and 8 mg for men. Too much of iron can result in a range of ailments, from an upset tummy to organ failure.

All across India, aluminium phosphide tablets are used as a fumigant in rice stocks. If not properly manufactured, they crumble. They contain mercury, which is poisonous. If accidentally consumed, they can be dangerous.

Similarly, chalk, dissolved in water, is often added to milk by unscrupulous vendors to increase volume. The ingestion of this adulterated milk could cause problems such as kidney stones.

Other common contaminants are the use of calcium carbide and hormones to artificially ripen fruit, which could cause adverse health effects, the use of antibiotics in rearing poultry, which could result in antibiotic resistance among consumers, unregulated use of toxic dyes in drinks and the use of toxic aluminium foil in the making of silver leaf, part of the ingredients of many Indian sweets.


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