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Food adulteration is widespread across India. The adulterated food items that are most commonly available, and affect the most number of people, are probably milk and ghee.

The most common adulterant in milk is water. But, as most Indians boil milk before drinking it, it reduces the nutritive value but is otherwise harmless. I guess that this kind of contamination affects more than 50 per cent of all milk consumed in India.

The food safety problem in milk adulteration is when “synthetic milk” contamination happens. This is a toxic mix of unsafe chemicals and is indistinguishable from real milk for most people. This possibly affects about 5% of milk consumed in India. As consumers, how can you protect yourself from milk adulteration?

There are only two ways I can recommend. One is to buy milk that sold in Tetra Pak containers, but this is expensive for many people. The second (inexpensive option) is to ensure that the animal is milked in front of you. This recommendation may seem strange to Westerners. But in India, this service is possible and available for most people in almost every town and village, and even in most parts of large cities, and it’s not expensive at all.

For ghee, the problem is different. The most common adulterants are palm kernel oil or vanaspati (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils). The palm oil adulteration is usually not a food safety problem. However, the adulteration of ghee with vanaspati is a food safety issue. Vanaspati is toxic and a source of transfats. Vanaspati is banned in cities like New York, and it is illegal for restaurants to use it there. Vanaspati is an unsafe product and not recommended for consumption.
Read an article on adulteration of ghee here:

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