Food adulteration is a real and mounting issue. And the most recent target that is being mixed with unhealthy and inedible adulterants is cumin (jeera). The spice is being mixed with inferior quality fennel or dill seed (suwa dana) that are at times coated with stone powder, mud or cement and then mixed with the cumin.
A few months ago, the Gujarat Food and Drug Administration (FDCA) caught hold of an Unava-based trader near Unjha, which is known for its rich spices. The trader was dealing in fake cumin that was made by coating bad quality or inexpensive fennel seeds (saunf) with white and brownstone powder.
Most manufacturers who produce the adulterants make the artificial cumin and then supply it to a ‘packer’, who then mixes the counterfeit with the original and sell it in the market. Dill and fennel are often used as adulterants because they can be bought for one-third and half the price of cumin, respectively. Other common adulterants include broom grass and grass seed.
This harmful practice can pave the way for a number of diseases. Atul Soni, quality manager, public health laboratory, AMC, was quoted as saying: “The chemicals and dyes used in coloring adulterated jeera are carcinogenic and have potential to cause cancer. Mud and cement coating on jeera can result in kidney stone or urinary tract diseases”.
So, the next time you temper your food with cumin, make sure you’ve bought the spice from a trusted brand or seller and that you’re using the real thing and not an unhealthy adulterated mix.