Finding out the quality of the food that you are consuming is very important. Foods may be contaminated or adulterated with a foreign substance. These substances can make you sick and unhealthy.
Difference between contamination and adulteration
Contamination and adulteration involve some foreign substance in the food. However, there is a difference between the two. Contamination means that the addition of a foreign substance was unintentional. While in adulteration you intentionally add the substance.
Adulteration generally involves removing the superior quality ingredient with the inferior quality ingredient. It is in a sense dilution of the food. Adulteration can lead to some serious health hazards. So it becomes important to understand the quality of the food.
You can use your senses to detect if something is wrong with your food. For example, if you see a fuzzy fruit, then it is a sign of spoilage. Similarly, a canned product can be called spoiled if the can is not in proper shape. Likewise, you can use your sensory organs to detect many adulterants in the food. For example, you can easily examine the addition of papaya seeds in black pepper seeds.
However, it is not always possible to identify them so easily. Sometimes the food may look of superior quality but very harmful substance may be used for adulteration. To make this distinction you need some form of analysis.
Some basic analysis can easily be done at home or in the school lab. For example, you can easily identify the addition of water in milk, the addition of colors in sugar, addition in beverages, etc. These basic tests are used to identify the presence or absence of the adulterant.
Need of Intermediate tests
However, you may be required to step further and use the intermediate test to better check the quality of food. These intermediate tests would require more advanced instruments and skills. The basic tests could only tell about the presence and absence, however, intermediate tests can tell you the amount of adulterants in the food.
You might have heard about the Mobile Food Testing Laboratory. It is an example of an intermediate testing service. They have basic types of equipment to find out adulteration in milk and other dairy products. They can perform about 23 tests for you.
Need of advanced tests
At times your food may be adulterated in very low quantity. But even this low quantity can be hazardous for your health. If you want very specific information about the adulterants in your food, you can opt for advanced tests.
Advanced tests are conducted by highly specialized technicians in a state-of-the-art lab. For example, if you want to find out the botanical and geographical information of your honey, you can go to these labs.
These labs use sophisticated tools that can detect even small levels of adulterants in your food. If your food passes tests in these labs, then you can be absolutely sure that your food is of very high quality.