Diwali special: Don’t let that spurious Barfi ruin your joy

Each bite of that mouth-watering barfi and a glass of that sweet coloured milkshake might be adulterated.

By Shruti Saxena | Last Updated: Oct 30, 2013, 12:15 PM IST

The festivities in India never end without the occasion being celebrated with great zeal and spirit. Each festival is a synonym for revelry.

With Diwali, the festival of lights around the corner, the first thing that comes to our mind is the delicious sweets and savouries that one craves to eat. Talking about sweets, we cannot just ignore them, as in India, sweets are an integral part of all the celebrations. They signify good omen, glee and prosperity. Festivals without devouring sweets are like life without love. When people plan to visit friends and relatives, a packet of sweets is the best and unanimous choice.

In the past, sweets were prepared at home with products like ghee, milk etc. and all the members of the family used to gather at one place. The biggest advantage was that the homemade sweets were believed to be absolutely safe without the use of any synthetic chemicals and added colours.

But now with the growing concept of nuclear families and busy lifestyles, one hardly has time to prepare sweets at home. So, people now opt for those delicious and ready-made sweets from the market.

So, if you have a sweet tooth, better be careful before biting into that yummy ‘gulab jamun’, as the mithais in the market are high on spurious ingredients that are most likely to fool you with synthetic colours, foils and thereby turning bitter the festival joy.

Each bite of that mouth-watering barfi and a glass of that sweet coloured milkshake might be adulterated. And if your ice-cream tastes a bit, well, soapy, maybe it is washing powder.


Check out for these common adulterants being used in various products.

Milk: The most common ingredients used to adulterate milk are water, chalk, urea, soap and other whiteners. Milk adulteration is mostly detected in loose milk supplied by dairies in the outskirts of the city.

Ghee: Ghee is most commonly adulterated with mashed potatoes and vanaspati. While edible oil may be adulterated with angemon oil.

Khoya: It generally includes adulterants like paper, refined oil, skimmed milk powder, water.

Besan laddu: It is generally adulterated with kesari daal (animal feed unsuitable for human consumption).

Gulab jamun: Most common adulterants used are contaminated khoya and paneer.

Rasgulla: The common adulterant is chhena made from synthetic milk which in turn is made from caustic soda and detergent powder.

Jalebis: They are usually adulterated with insect-infested old stock of maida.

Ice-creams: Before licking a bite of your favourite chocolate ice-cream remember that it might contain washing powder in it.

Chocolates: They are the latest target of adulteration which might contain low quality sugar and added minerals to increase its weight.

Silver toppings on sweets: All that glitters is not silver. It might be adulterated with aluminium foil.

Here are some simple tests that one can easily perform at home to detect adulteration in food products.

Ghee: Take 1 spoon of ghee and add an equal amount of hydrochloric acid, and now add some sugar to it. Shake it for one minute. The presence of vanaspati can be detected if the base of the acid shows dark red colour.

Similarly, to test adulterant in edible oil, add a few drops of nitric acid to the sample and shake it well. The appearance of reddish brown colour shows the presence of angemon oil in it.

Milk: Put a drop of milk on polished vertical surface. The drop of milk either stops or flows slowly leaving a white trail behind it. If it contains water, it will flow down fast without leaving any mark.

Another test to detect synthetics or the presence of starch in milk is by adding a few drops of iodine to milk. The presence of blue colour confirms it is adulterated with starch.

Khoya: Boil the sample with some water. Cool it and now add a tincture of iodine to it. If blue colour appears, it means the Khoya sample has starch.

Another simple test is just rub some amount of khoya on your fingers, if it feels a bit stretched or if you taste it and it tastes sweeter than usual, it shows adulteration.

Ice-creams: A simple method is to add a few drops of lemon juice to it. If bubbles start appearing, it means that the sample if adulterated.

Silver foil: Burn the foil completely. If it turns into brownish ash, it confirms the presence of aluminium foil.


The best precaution is to buy sweets from a reliable and branded shop so that there are fewer possibilities of buying adulterated food items.

Also, under the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, consumers can approach government labs for testing of suspected adulterated food item.

On a final note, readers are advised to be a bit cautious to ensure free flow of harmony, happiness and health in the family this Diwali.