Fake and Hazardous Products

Delhi Belly

Many products sold in the local shops in India and Nepal are fake and/or hazardous.

Anything in a prepackage or bottled could be fake or adulterated quality goods. The most common example is package bags of milk. Good milk may cost up to 45Rs per litre which too expensive for the Indian market. Also the 'Ghee' which is clarified butter is expensive product made from milk. So regular milk packaged for the local market is first remove of the ghee leaving a watery unsweetened milk which they then add milk power to improve the taste. 
The milk power may come from China where they had a scandal of large amounts of power milk being adulterated by Melamine a poisons chemical. This tainted milk power has shown up in various parts of India since 2008. 
Hopefully regular milk power is not harmful in India other than the inferior quality. This bag milk is commonly used in India, unless you find a good source like a farmer or an upscale restaurant. So chai shops may use buffalo milk which is good too.
A recent study in Nepal found %100 of bag milk was adulterated.
A similar study found that 90% of packaged drink water (bottles) where adulterated with bacteria. Packaged drinking water should be of better quality in India. One way to check is open the bottle water and smell the top. You will soon find many have a strong odour of bacteria and this a typical problem that the plastic caps are not sterile and grow bacteria underneath.
In this case of these sun screens they even say made in the USA. Unfortunately these product do not work and who knows what's really in them. Steroid cream is a strong suspicion.
Stick to good quality shops and well know products and brands. Bottled water that is made by small brands is just pumped from a local well.



St Ives and Banana Boat do not make these products!


Other fake products to look out for

Pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately many drugs are known to be fake. Buy only in big cities for big pharmacies. Check packaging carefully. Bring your own meds if you can.

Cosmetics, anything in a package. Henna, black stuff maybe paint.

Laundry Powder: Be warned that Indian made laundry powder maybe made of just bleach or other hazardous chemicals. Bring your own or buy the best quality brands in India. Cloths maybe damaged by cheap brands and this has happen to me more than once. Don't bring any clothes to India that you don't mind losing.

Food. Often the curries masks the poor not fresh quality of the vegetables.

Water in India.


India has some of the worlds worst water woes. Too many people and not enough water or sewage. Monsoon supplies million of liters of water but it is all lost and wasted.

Some bottled water is worse than the tap in India. Stick to the big well know brands: AquaFina, Bisleri, Kennly .

Himalyan brand is the purest and cost around 40Rs per litre. Its imported from high mountains springs of India and blessed by Yogis. Avian is imported from France.

One problem with water is often the packaging. Plastic residue seeps from the bottles into the water, soon you'll be drink plastic!

Avoid water that has been sitting in the sun. Try to buy the freshest as possible. If you can't find the date, it's probably old.

Best before 6 months or 12 months.  Imagine some food has to sit in a shop in India or Nepal for 11 months before being sold. How does food stay fresh for 11 months through the heat and the monsoon and with no refrigeration? Chemicals my dear, lots of chemicals.

The date of manufacturing on Indian packages is like this: 9/25/10

That means it is good usually for six months from that date so you have think for yourself if it before 3/25/11.

This is the India Standards Institute logo of assurance (let's hope it's real.)



Soft drinks and other bottle drinks



Soft drinks in India have been tested in the past and found to have high levels of pesticides and heavy metals.  The water quality in India has proven to be highly unpredictable.

In 2003, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a non-governmental organization in New Delhi, said aerated waters produced by soft drinks manufacturers in India, including multinational giants PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company, contained toxins, including lindane, DDT, malathion  and chlorpyrifos — pesticides that can contribute to cancer, a breakdown of the immune system and cause birth defects. Tested products included Coke, Pepsi, 7 Up, Mirinda, Fanta, Thums Up, Limca, and Sprite. CSE found that the Indian-produced Pepsi's soft drink products had 36 times the level of pesticide residues permitted under European Union regulations; Coca Cola's 30 times.[11]  CSE said it had tested the same products in the US and found no such residues. However, this was the European standard for water, not for other drinks. No law bans the presence of pesticides  in drinks in India. 

Asbestos in India

Asbestos is widely used in India and not considered a health hazard by most. Typical usage is insulation of air conditioned rooms. It may be used in roofing materials or anything that requires insulation.  The danger comes from long term exposure to fine particles of asbestos floating in the air.



It is not uncommon to find exposed wires in the bathroom or any where in a hotel or guesthouse in India. I can think of many times that I have been mildly shocked by something in India. Electric water heaters in the bathroom/shower area is typical danger as is a loose light bulb.

Not surprising death by electrocution is common in India, often whole group at once.

  • Be very careful with water on the floor of the bathroom or anywhere else in India.
  • Always look up for any hanging or broken electrical wires when walking on the streets.
  • If you see downed electric wires keep away.
  • If you have broken or exposed wires in Guesthouse complain to management, request an alternate room.
  • Be careful when you touch this switch old plug this is when you get shocked
  • If you have a laptop bring extra power adapters or buy a surge protector.


Not so common for foreigner tourist but very common for Indian tourists.

Typically at a beach in Goa or Kerala, Tamil Nadu or anywhere in India drowning are very common.

By and large Indian do not know how to swim or get out of dangerous sea current situation which is the cause of the problem.

Tip: If you don't know how to swim or understand ocean tides and currents, keep away from the water!

How to tell if someone is drowning

Teenagers or young children are most likely to be drowning victims. Many adults in India too think they can swim like fish.

Look out for someone bobbing with their mouth only above water gasping for air.

They may not be flaying as much as you imagine a drowning person to act. They are reaching out to grasp onto water, which doesn't work, but they continue which is unfortunate. This continuing down the wrong path is what leads to drowning.

Look for the obvious sign of a motionless body faced downwards.

How to save a drowning person

If you are not a trained life guard i recommend that you exercise caution if you try to save someone from drowning.

Otherwise this is what i would do if i had no other choice. You should try to grab them round the neck (like a lose head lock, with out choking them) then flip them so they are on are floating on their backs, then you should try to drag them to safety, taking to them and try to calm them down, when they are on their backs yell at them "FLOAT FLOAT FLOAT!" They may attack you, so you may have use counter measures in order to save their life. If they continue to drown you, you may have to abandon the rescue.

How to save yourself from drowning

If you find yourself in bad situation in the ocean the simplest thing to do is lay and float on your back. If your lost at sea you will have to do this plus tread water until someone rescues you. It a good idea to practice treading water now and then.

About rip currents in India

Many of Indians' beaches have rip current problems which is a cause of drowning. This is because people panic.

Typically when there is a strong rip current there are some waves coming to shore.

When you are swimming at the beach and wave higher than one meter is coming at you have a problem. As the wave comes closer to you the water underneath you will be sucked under the wave toward the wave, pulling your feet into the spinning wave.  If the wave is strong enough it will suck you into the loops, spin you around and pound you the sandy ocean floor. Obviously this can be dangerous or even deadly.

"If you are not familiar with big wave keep away until your comfortable with small waves."~MSP

This is how you deal with waves- How to learn how to SURF:

When you get off the beach into the water you want to get to deeper water as quickly as possible and away from a wave that may break on you as described above.  The important part is: how much water is bellow you or how much water will be bellow you when the waves hits?

With a wave you can do only 3 things:

1) Run, if you in shallow water jump back  on to the beach away from the wave.

2) Go under the wave.  This is typically what a surfer will do. When a big wave is about to hit you - dive underneath it. You can swim complete under the waves force, but big waves still have a lot of force. Scrunch yourself up like a ball will help.

3) Go over it, if the water is too shallow and you can't retreat you may have to try and jump over it. If it's too high to jump over then it's back to #2 or hospital - good luck!

4) Never let the wave hit you straight on the back or neck, this can cause serious injury. If all else fails become the human beach ball, scrunch your self up.

How to survive a rip current when swimming or surfing in the ocean

When there are a lot of waves and tidal action, a layer of water will be pulling 1-2 meter bellow the surface, like a river flowing out to sea.

While the waves throw water back towards the beach another force is pushing down and out. For someone swimming this can be an unnerving experience, to be pull down from the surface of the ocean and spun around and pushed further away from shore. So typically someone may panic, inhaling some water unable to reach the surface.

The keys is not to panic. If the rip tide currents are pulling you down and out again FLOAT. Let the water take you out to sea, don't try to swim against it, relax. After a while you may find yourself away from the beach and further down one direction. Now you will be out the rip currents and water i will be normal waves. How do you get back? Surf. simple surf back.

How do I body surf how does someone learn to surf?

Use the forces of the ocean to your advantage. Again floating wait for the waves to come. What are looking for is a the birth a wave. A wave that is just growing in force and speed. Catch this wave at it will push you away from it, towards the beach. Just catch waves like this and slowing you will end up back on the beach sooner or later.

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+1 # name 2009-06-15 09:24
Okay good, I will not buy any sunblock, cosmetics, medicine or even food while in India. Though my baggage may get a little large if I'm going to bring all my own food for a trip of a few months!
+1 # brokeback 2014-02-06 02:50
Your article does not present the correct picture and is full of exaggerations. Agreed, there is adulteration in India but not to the extent you paint. If that were the case the people of India would long be extinct. If one used just a little common sense while buying products, they would be as safe here as anywhere else in the world. Milk... Buy brands like Amul, note also in tetrapack that is as good as milk anywhere in the world. Water... Buy the usual aquafina and kinley. Medicines... Just buy them from a large pharmacist, ask for the bill and try in cases possible to stick to well known manufacturers. If the stuff mentioned here were really true millions would be ending up chronically ill when they get back home to the US and Europe.

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