With Holi, the festival of colours, approaching on Thursday, Thandai and sweets like Gujiya are the first edibles that pop up in one's minds, but it's imperative to remain aware of adulteration that could ruin the celebrations.
Suggesting tips and ways to prevent oneself from being a victim of adulterated Thandai, Saurabh Arora, founder of Food Safety Helpline, mentions a few pointers that could be followed to save one's day:
* Thandai can be adulterated by essentially using inferior quality ingredients, which include milk, water, sugar, black pepper, artificial colours and flavours.
* Milk can be adulterated by adding starch, which gives it a thick, rich texture. It can be tested by boiling a diluted sample in a test tube, cooling, and adding a drop of iodine solution. Blue colour indicates starch contamination.
* It is essential that the water used for preparing Thandai is pure and potable. Any contamination of water will lead to stomach upsets, and therefore ruin the festivities. If in doubt, boil the water and cool it before preparing Thandai.
* Powdered sugar can be adulterated with chalk powder or white sand, which can cause severe stomach disorders. You can check by adding sugar to water and stirring. Pure sugar will dissolve, while any impurities will remain undissolved.
* Whole black pepper corns can be contaminated with papaya seeds. A simple way to check is to put the black pepper corns in alcohol. Mature black pepper corns will sink while papaya seeds, if present, will float.
* Thandai can also be adulterated with non-permitted colours-flavours by flouting the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) guidelines. For starters, saffron (kesar) is sometimes included and the declaration on the label is often used by the Food Business Operators (FBO) to mislead the consumers, when actually artificial colours are used instead. Therefore, it is advisable to buy these ingredients from a reliable outlet.
* If you intend to buy Thandai mix from the market, be sure to buy a reputed brand from a reliable retail outlet. This will save you trouble from buying a spurious product. It is important that you check the date of manufacture and expiry date.