Fun Fun Fact #17

ADULTERATION OF FOOD. “Adulteration” is a legal term meaning that a food product fails to meet federal or state standards. Adulteration usually refers to noncompliance with health or safety standards as determined, in the United States, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Definition of Adulterated Food

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act (1938) provides that food is “adulterated” if it meets any one of the following criteria:

(1) it bears or contains any “poisonous or deleterious substance” which may render it injurious to health;

(2) it bears or contains any added poisonous or added deleterious substance (other than a pesticide residue, food additive, colour additive, or new animal drug, which are covered by separate provisions) that is unsafe;

(3) its container is composed, in whole or in part, of any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render the contents injurious to health; or

(4) it bears or contains a pesticide chemical residue that is unsafe. (Note: The Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] establishes tolerances for pesticide residues in foods, which are enforced by the FDA.)


  1. Food frauds: 10 most adulterated foods

  2. Food adulteration: Sources, health risks, and detection methods.

  3. Adulteration of Spices

  4. What’s NOT to eat- Food adulteration in the context of human biology


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