As the New Year approaches, you cannot forget the beautiful display of sweets and dry fruits decorated with silver leaf or silver-ka-work. Silver leaf has been a part of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and was adopted into cooking for decoration. The eye-catching silver glitter may not be silver at all but some other toxic metal. Read on to know more about it:
Why is it used?
It was a particular favorite ingredient in Mughlai Naad Awadhi dishes like shahi tukda, biryani, korma, and kebabs and continues to be used even today in paan, dry fruits, betel nuts and elaichi, and other food items for the following reasons:
- Provides a rich and attractive appearance to foods
- Silver has antimicrobial properties and prevents the growth of bacteria
- Increases shelf life of foods where no preservatives are used
Adulteration in silver leaf is dangerous for health
Adulteration often crops up during the festive season and careless consumers can fall prey to it. Silver leaf or silver-work adulterants have been frequently detected by food regulators, including:
Replacement of silver with aluminum
- Poor quality silver has been used which may not be of 999 purity
- unhealthy preparation methods
- Unsanitary conditions in workshops can cause pollution leading to a risk of foodborne diseases
- Traces of heavy metal contamination such as nickel, lead, and cadmium have been found
Manufacturing process of silver leaf
- What has caused some consumers trouble are some of the methods used to make silver leaf. Different regions of India use different methods such as:
- Hammering a granite stone with a leather punch with silver straps
- Pouring silver into the intestines of oxen and buffaloes and beating them with a hammer to dilute them as required.
- Striking the silver between sheets of specially treated black paper and polyester sheets coated with food-grade calcium powder
- Processing with modern machines
Although the manufacturers say that the intestines are treated with herbs that prevent any part of the intestines from being left on the silver leaf, this is still not accepted by some communities in India, so some manufacturers Have adopted modern methods of manufacturing silver leaf.
Stay of Delhi High Court
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has amended the rules and stated that silver leaf shall not be manufactured using any ingredients of animal origin at any stage of the manufacturing process.
The Delhi High Court has stayed the implementation of this regulation on a PIL filed by traditional manufacturers of silver leaf who use animal intestines to prepare silver leaf as it resulted in the loss of jobs to thousands of workers. Will go. These manufacturers state that:
Hundreds of years old secret manufacturing method does not contaminate the silver leaf nor does it change the quality of the silver. If some consumers have objections then silver leaf can be labeled as vegetarian or non-vegetarian
Simple test to check adulteration in silver leaf
Wipe silver leaf over the sweets. If the residue sticks to the fingers then it is aluminum alloy.
Burn a piece of silver leaf. If it is silver, it will turn into a silver ball while aluminum will burn and leave grayish-black ash.
Place silver leaves in a test tube and add dilute hydrochloric acid. If it turns turbid with a white precipitate then it is silver because aluminum can neither turn turbid nor precipitate.
Rub a silver leaf between the palms of the hands; If it is silver it will disappear, if it is aluminum it will become a small ball.