One of 5 sweetshops MiD DAY visited across the city spiked varakh with aluminium to cut costs, BMC lab reports confirm presence of the base metal
On the eve of the festival of lights, it is not just the air that is getting contaminated, but also the mithai, given the rampant adulteration practiced by halwais of all orders.
Every year, there are instances where owners of local sweetshops adulterate mawa sweets, which are then sold to buyers.
This year, MiD DAY decided to drop in at shops for surprise inspection of sweet samples for adulteration. Last Thursday, we visited shops located in busy areas where people are likely to buy the goodies in a hurry.
The trail led us to shops in Nehru Nagar, Andheri East, Nana Chowk, Ghatkopar West and Bandra West, where we purchased mawa peda, mawa barfi and chocolate barfi, all of which have mawa as a major ingredient.
We submitted the samples at the BMC's laboratory at Dadar. The results of tests conducted over three days by civic chemists were handed over to us yesterday.
MiD DAY findings
Of the five shops, the sweets bought from A-1 sweetshop in Nehru Nagar were adulterated, said the official report from the lab.
All that shines is not silver: A MiD DAY reporter returns from A-One
Sweets, after having purchased the sample that had traces of aluminium
in its silver coating
The tests detected the presence of aluminium foil, which is a substitute for the silver foil on sweets.
Santosh Jathar, BMC Lab Analyst, said, "The silver foil used to garnish sweets is called varakh, and it is made of pure silver. Since silver is a precious metal and is expensive, some shop owners use aluminium instead. We performed a nitric acid test on the foil and detected the presence of the base metal."
He added, "Aluminium is not for fit for consumption and adversely affects intestines."
Owner of A-1 shop, Ishwar Rathod, said, "The cooks prepare the sweets, and I don't know how they make them. But we only use silver foil to dress up the mithai."
Another reporter shows mawa sweets, bought from other shops, which
were free of any adulteration. pics/Atul Kamble, Santosh Nagwekar
Meanwhile, sweets bought from other shops, Sagar sweets in Nana Chowk, Jain Sweets and Farsan at Andheri,
Real sweets in Bandra and Khadewal sweets in Ghatkopar were found to be free of impurities.
The lab tested these sweets for insect and fungal infestation, prohibited coal tar, colours, artificial sweeteners, starch, aluminium foil and so on. But they were found to be fit for consumption, the reports said.
Further, our reporters also checked the odour of the sweets, and whether they were dry or hard.
They also tasted the sweets to see if there was a sense of irritation in the throat. But in the case of the latter, there was none.