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Steer clear of food adulteration

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Steer clear of food adulteration

Pregnant women should be more careful about food they consume around festival time, writes Dr Rita Bakshi

Diwali is the biggest festival in India and the whole nation celebrates it. It is a time for festivities, celebration and rejoicing with rituals and feasts. As families get together to celebrate the festival of lights, food becomes central to the celebrations too as it is an extremely important part of our culture. In the modern times, however, there is a little bit of bitterness introduced to the food through adulterations. If we are not careful about the things we bring to our table, things might go seriously wrong and lead to fatalities or cause serious damage to your families’ health.

When it comes to pregnant women, it becomes even more important to take care of the food they consume. The restrictions imposed on them might be relaxed a little as they join the festivities, but care needs to be taken that they steer clear of the adulterated food products which might cause harm to them and their unborn child.

Food adulteration happens due to a number of factors. Sometimes the food business operators are unaware of the regulations or the workers might lack training. However, there are enough instances where adulteration is deliberate with the intent to stretch the profit margins, thus making the food potentially harmful, especially for pregnant women.

Even the dishes cooked at home need to be looked into. The raw material may be adulterated, making the food dangerous for pregnant women. It is important to buy the raw materials from reliable vendors with an FSSAI license. Be sure that you check the packaging for FSSAI label, check the best before or expiry date, ingredients and nutritional information before buying anything.


During Diwali, sweets are the most sought after food products and some of the vendors have been known to add adulterants deliberately to cut costs, exposing pregnant women to the harms of these potentially dangerous chemicals. The milk can be adulterated with water, chalk, urea, soap and chemical whiteners. Khoya might contain paper and starch. Vark could be aluminium instead of silver. Ghee can contain vanaspati or animal fat. These adulterants may sometimes be harmless, but the chemicals can especially be dangerous for pregnant women.


In the recent times, with more awareness about adulteration in sweets, people have begun opting for chocolates instead. It is important to know that chocolates are made of cocoa which may contain copper and lead. Both chemicals are especially harmful for pregnant women and may even cause miscarriages. The only way to make sure that you get the real thing is to buy branded chocolates.

Packaged Juices

Packaged juices are quite popular as a gifting item during Diwali. However, not all juices are 100 per cent natural or pure and may contain additives like artificial colouring, thickeners, emulsifiers, or added flavours to maintain uniformity. Read labels carefully and avoid consuming unnecessary chemicals.

Dried Fruits

Size and colour of dry fruits are determinants of the prices they carry. Some sellers are known to soak dry fruits in acetic acid or citric acid to increase their size. Other dry fruits like shelled pistachios and raisins are coloured artificially. These colours are not fit for consumption and some of them may impact the foetus, induce nausea and vomiting.

Packaged Snacks

A convenient option that is often considered more hygienic than sweets is packaged snacks, but these must be bought with caution. Check the packaging for contents and do not buy something that lists ingredients you wouldn’t use in your kitchen like fructose syrup, protein isolates, bulking agents, thickeners, emulsifiers, colorants and flavour enhancers.

The writer is the Chairperson, International Fertility Centre, New Delhi




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