Nelly Bassily | September 8, 2008
According to Wikipedia, adulterant usage was first investigated in 1820 when a German chemist named Frederick Accum identified many toxic metal-based colourings in food and drink. Although most countries now have laws against food adulteration and authorities to monitor the safety and quality of foodstuffs, the illegal practice persists. As the study by Ghana’s Food and Drugs Board and Food Research Institute reveals, the addition of adulterants not only reduces the nutritional value of food (as in watered-down beverages or maize meal added to groundnut paste), but it can also be harmful (as in Sudan dyes added to cooking oil or plaster added to bread).
You may wish to investigate whether food adulteration is a known problem in your area. You could contact the authority in your country that is responsible for monitoring the quality of food sold on the market and ask questions such as:
-What does the organization do to monitor food quality and prevent food adulteration?
-Which types of foods have been found adulterated in your area? Are there types of adulteration that are particularly dangerous that consumers should be aware of?
-How can consumers recognize these types of adulteration?
-What should a consumer do if they suspect that a vendor is selling adulterated food?
You may also wish to refer to these past FRW stories for program ideas on other food safety issues:
-“Food poisonings a grim reminder to store beans and grains safely” (FRW Issue #22, May 2008)
-“Cooking oil used by most Malians found to be toxic” (FRW Issue #10, February 2008)
Finally, these Farm Radio International scripts describe measures people can take to prevent food contamination in their kitchens:
-“Keeping food safe,” a two-part series (Package 46, Scripts 7 and 8, October 1997):