Aug 29, 2013

Maalai Malar News

4 packaged foods that are killing you

Packaged foods help in time-management, but experts say they are killing you slowly
Mornings are a rushed affair and to make life easy, you pour a glass of milk over the cereal that you picked from the supermarket. So you think you've had a wholesome meal, right? Not really.
Medical experts say that packaged food — even the cereal that you have been assured is healthy — the quick fix for the on-the-go generation is full of chemicals and, more often than not, 'completely devoid of nutrients'.
 While you may argue that you look for the reassuring words on packets — no-trans-fat, no preservatives, no monosodium glutamate (MSG), experts say that these boxes are full of other hidden ingredients that can pose serious health problems if consumed in the long-term.
Killer ingredients

Refined wheat flour, sugar, edible vegetable oil, milk solids, invert syrup, raising agents, salts, emulsifiers, vitamins and dough conditioner
What's hiding?
We already know the toxic effects of refined flour. However, what's scarier are the high levels of edible vegetable oil in these baked cookies, says macrobiotic nutritionist Shonali Sabherwal. "Edible vegetable oil is nothing but fat as its nutrients have been stripped. This loads up the liver, which reacts to fat that cannot be processed in the body, resulting in a fatty liver and slowing down your body," she explains. Besides, invert syrup, a mix of both glucose and fructose creates a sense of being full, and this sugar also make you crave more sugar — so while most products scream no sugar (they mean white sugar), they still add glucose, fructose, or for diabetics, chemical sweeteners, which actually have long-term effects. "Milk solids have also been linked to schizophrenia, autism, depression and multiple sclerosis (MS)," she adds.
Killer ingredients

Invert syrup, strawberry crush (sugar, water, strawberry pulp, thickener), strawberry syrup, pineapple crush, mango crush, apple juice, concentrate, liquid glucose, soy lecithin
What's hiding?
The label says there's no added sugar, but the sugar rush you get from the various syrups added to make this a scrumptious breakfast, is perhaps why you probably have been hyperactive. If your blood sugar levels are going awry, blame it on your breakfast cereals. And the extreme sugar rush is not the only cause of worry.
Most packaged muesli contains soy lecithin, a by-product of the soybean oil production. Studies suggest some of the common sideeffects of soy lecithin — used to bind the various ingredients together — are change in weight (loss and gain), loss of appetite, occasional nausea, dizziness, vomiting and confusion. "Besides, if you have been advised by your doctor not to eat soya, you may just be consuming it unknowingly even in breads," shares eco-nutritionist Kavita Mukhi.
Killer ingredients

Dehydrated vegetables, water, edible vegetable oil, cashewnut, salt, sugar, butter, ginger paste
What's hiding?
Physician and cardiometabolic specialist, at Tardeo's Bhatia Hospital, Dr Hemant Thacker, says that ready-to-eat meals are full of dehydrated vegetables which are nutrient-empty. They are only fibre and calories. Worse, the process of reheating the vegetable kills whatever micronutrients are left in the food. He adds that it is impossible to preserve food for 12 months if they haven't added any additives or chemicals. "Those additives may be permissible for that much quantity of food, but if you keep eating it day in and day out, you are posing great danger to your kidney and liver," he says.
Packaged soups
Killer ingredients

Corn flour, edible vegetable oil, thickener, softening agent, sugar, salt, dehydrated vegetables, dried glucose syrup, edible vegetable fat, yeast extract powder, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, acidity regulator, flavour enhancer
What's hiding?
Prepare tomato soup using fresh tomatoes. Do this for a couple of days. Does the colour turn out the same every day? No. How then do the various soup manufacturers manage to keep the colour of packet soup uniform? It is thanks to the colouring agents which are sometimes disguised as 'flavour enhancers'. Dr Thacker says, "Colouring agents are toxic. They put the liver and kidney into overdrive, since these organs have to work extra hard to wash away chemicals from the system and make them safe for the body. This means that the overworked liver is unable to do its regular job — it handles the nutrients that have been absorbed by the gut from food, removes toxins from the blood, makes proteins like albumin and clotting factors, and secretes bile which helps digest fatty foods in particular — as efficiently." That apart, Sabherwal points out, hydrolyzed vegetable protein contains up to 30 per cent MSG, which is known to trigger headaches, rapid heart rate, chest pain and cause nausea. "Moreover, yeast extract powder only increases the bad bacteria (yeast) in the body. This causes problems with the pH levels and creates acidic blood condition, therefore decreasing immunity," she says.

FSOs have more tasks, but poorer infrastructure

Exactly two years after the implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011, across the country, Food Safety Officers (FSOs), the personnel who make ensuring food safety possible by conducting raids, collecting samples and enabling punishment or fine in case of non-compliance, are a disillusioned lot.
While the FSOs admit that the regulations have given them more teeth compared to the predecessor - the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, 1954 – they make no bones about the fact that though their responsibilities have increased multifold under the new regime, their powers have been reduced and work is hampered by lack of infrastructure such as offices and vehicles and absence of adequate number of personnel. A look at some of the states where FSOs are trying to do their duties while facing such issues:
Bihar - Kosi
Arjun Prasad, FSO, Kosi district, said, “The process has been going on very smoothly since FSSA, 2006, was implemented, but being government employees, we have not been allotted four-wheelers by the government in order to conduct raids. We have to make our own arrangements for transportation, and as a result, are unable to conduct raids at many places. So if the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) wants to obtain better results from each state, they should provide the FSOs with a larger fleet of vehicles.”
Ashok Kumar Sinha, FSO, Gaya district, informed, “FSSA, 2006, is stricter than PFA, 1954, and is definitely a good move by FSSAI. But for the proper implementation of the Act, FSOs should be provided with better facilities, which have been lacking. We have been provided with two-wheelers, whereas the Designated Officers (DOs) have been given four-wheelers. A DO's job is to look after such aspects as licensing and registration, and not to collect samples and conduct raids on the Food Business Operators' (FBOs') premises.”
“In order to take stringent action against FBOs, FSOs should be provided with four-wheelers, and more people should be recruited. FSOs are like one-man army, and hence it gets difficult. And sometimes FBOs use their influence in order to escape raids. It is not possible to collect enough samples on a two-wheeler.”
Goa - North Goa
On the condition of anonymity, North Goa's assistant local health authority and senior FSO, said, “For the last two years, FSSA has been in existence, but most of the powers continue to be vested in the Designated Officers, instead of being bestowed upon the Food Safety Officers. During the PFA Act, the power was with the Designated Officers, but it should have changed in favour of FSOs during the new Act, because it is us who are carrying out most of the tasks.”
She added, “Goa has sufficient number of vehicles to carry out the raids and tasks of sampling and testing, but we have shortage of manpower. An interview has been scheduled, and we expect the problem to be solved soon. One of the problems we are facing is that all the staff operates from only one office, which is based in the North Goa district. There is no office for the South Goa district. We have been demanding it for the last one year.”
South Goa
Sanjot Kudalkar, South Goa's assistant local health authority and senior FSO, said, “In South Goa, we conduct regular checks on FBOs. Sampling and testing is the everyday process here, and each day there are two or three samplings by the FSOs. As per the time-frame stipulated by the Act, the results of the tests are declared within 14 days, and if they turn to be negative, the case is filed with the authority concerned.”
When quizzed if there is a shortage of vehicles in the district, she said, “The availability of vehicles makes the collection of samples easier, but we are actually facing a shortage of staff. That is the reason the FSOs have to undertake multiple tasks. But an interview has been scheduled for the recruitment of FSOs, and the situation will change very soon.”
Haryana - Jind
N D Sharma, FSO, Jind, said, “Manpower is a major challenge for us. We have brought the issue to the notice of the higher authorities, but action is yet to be taken.”
Om Kumar, FSO, Rohtak, stated that the key difference between PFA and FSSA was that licensing had come under the purview of the latter. “We carry out sampling and testing at least thrice a month, collect the samples and send to state headquarters for testing,” he informed.
Uttarakhand - Dehradun
Ramesh Singh, FSO, Dehradun, said, “FSSA came into force on August 5, 2011. Since then, most FBOs have been using fair means to do business, fearing action. FSSAI officials have lots of expectations from us, but we have a huge workload and inadequate facilities. We do not have a force with us to undertake inspection, and we have only a few vehicles at our disposal. Since FSSA came into force, I have personally collected 21 samples in 2011 and 68 in 2012, and this year, I have collected 85 so far.”
However, he said, “During PFA, I personally collected 32 samples in 2010 and 25 in the year 2009. The reason for collecting less samples during that period was that both food inspectors and officials from nagar nigam (civic body) were involved in raids and samples collection. But after FSSA, FSOs were loaded with more responsibility, their area of operations was expanded and they had to face increased expectations. In the new regime, even laymen are aware and inform us when they find anything wrong thus entailing more occasions for taking action.”

Food was contaminated

20 students had fallen ill after breakfast at Adi-Dravidar hostel

Microbiological tests have confirmed the presence of bacterial organisms in food consumed by students on July 31 at the Government Adi-Dravidar hostel in Pollachi near here. Twenty students had fallen sick immediately after consuming breakfast at the hostel.
Official sources said on Wednesday that the samples of cooked food and raw food materials were taken from the kitchen immediately after the students complained of stomach ache, nausea, vomiting, and dysentery.
The source of these bacterial organisms was likely to be flies and insects, which were indicative of open air defecation near the kitchen, the sources said.
After the students took ill, all noon meal centres in Government schools were asked to improve hygiene in and around kitchens and ensure safe food.
The cooked food was tested at Microbiology laboratory of the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital whereas the testing of raw material standards was performed at the Government Food Analysis Laboratory here run by the Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department (Food Safety Wing). Sources in the Food Safety Wing said that the raw food material was found to be safe and fit for consumption.
When contacted, Director of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes D. Venkatesan, who had visited the hostel on July 31, told The Hindu over phone from New Delhi that an action-taken report had been sought from the State Government on this issue.
The commission had submitted a set of recommendations to the State Government requesting a directive to all district administrations to check the raw food material supplied to the State Government hostels for Adi Dravida students.
The sources added that a microbiologist has been posted at the Government Food Analysis Laboratory in Coimbatore.
This post had been lying vacant for more than four years and had prevented the Food Safety Wing officials from taking samples of cooked food from Integrated Child Development Service Centres (ICDS) and noon meal centres in all government and aided schools despite a circular issued to this effect by the Tamil Nadu Food Safety Commissioner Kumar Jayanth on July 19.

86% milk sold adulterated in State

86% milk sold adulterated in State

INDIA’S top food standards authority has ranked Nagaland the sixth among 28 states and 7 Union Territories in the country that have high-adulterants in milk. The central government today released details of the national survey conducted recently by the Food Safety and Standards of Authority of India (FSSAI). “The survey was to ascertain the quality of milk throughout the country,” Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad said in the Rajya Sabha on August 27, according to a Press Information Bureau (PIB) press release. The release listed the culpable states, among them Nagaland, in his information about the survey to the Parliament.
The survey has found that that the degree of adulteration in Nagaland’s milk is 86%. Adulteration of milk in the states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Daman and Diu, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and Mizoram are 100%, the survey.
To the happiness of citizens in Nagaland, the FSSAI’s findings definitely brushes away the righteous claims of a Dimapur-based diary group who had vehemently mounted a witch-hunt in March this year when a concerned citizen found detergents, nitrate and pond water in locally-produced milk products.
Dimapur District Co-operative Milk Producers Union Ltd (DIMUL) had responded days after a local veterinarian tested samples of milk products and found them highly adulterated.
DIMUL simply slammed the test results as an event “without intimation of the intention to have the food article so analyzed” and washed their hands off the matter.
The FSSAI survey has found that the quality of milk throughout the country is highly adulterated. 68.4% of milk samples were found to be ‘non-conforming’ to Food Safety and Standards Regulations of 2011. State-wise ranking (in descending order) where the ‘non-conforming’ milk was prevalent are seen in the chart.
No data is maintained centrally by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, the union health minister told the Rajya Sabha. ‘The nodal agencies do not main data for the purpose of regulating, manufacturing, storing, distributing, selling or importing articles of food, and to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption,’ the government said.
Food safety enforcement is state’s onus
When the DIMUL findings went public in Nagaland, the state’s Health and Welfare department virtually stayed away from the issue. Several days after the story broke a brief response appeared in the media and disappeared – after passing the buck while the milk producers’ union denied that there were any adulterants in the milk products.
The central government has made it clear that the state government authorities are the agencies that ought to enforce food safety standards. “The implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 rests with state/UT governments,” the union minister told the parliament.
“Random samples of food items including milk are drawn by the State Food Safety Officers and sent to the designated food testing laboratories for analysis. Penal action is taken against the offenders, in case samples are found to be not conforming to the provisions of the FSS Act and Regulations made thereunder,” the minister said. “There is an outlay of Rs. 1500 crore in the 12th Five Year Plan to strengthen the food regulatory system at the State level,” the PIB release added.

Milk samples fail to conform to standards

More than 68 percent of milk samples tested across the country by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) failed to conform to recommended standards, parliament has been informed.
The FSSAI conducted a national survey to ascertain the quality of milk throughout the country, in which 68.4 percent samples were found to be non-conforming to food safety and standards regulations, 2011, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Tuesday in reply to a written question in the Rajya Sabha.
The FSSAI is the nodal agency which regulates manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import of food items.
The implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, rests with state governments.
Random samples of food items, including milk, are taken by the state food safety officers and sent to the designated laboratories for analysis.
Azad said penal action is taken against offenders in case the samples are found to be not conforming to the provisions of the food safety act.
The 12th five year plan has made an outlay of Rs.1,500 crore to strengthen the food regulatory system at the state level.

Adulteration of Milk

In the National Survey conducted by the Food Safety and Standards of Authority of India (FSSAI) to ascertain the quality of milk throughout the country, 68.4% samples were found to be non-conforming to Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011. State-wise details of non-conforming samples in the descending order of percentage with respect to the total samples collected in different States / UTs are annexed.
No such data is maintained centrally by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, the nodal agency for the purpose to regulate manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import of articles of food, and to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.
The implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 rests with State/UT Governments. Random samples of food items including milk are drawn by the State Food Safety Officers and sent to the designated food testing laboratories for analysis.  Penal action is taken against the offenders, in case samples are found to be not conforming to the provisions of the FSS Act and Regulations made thereunder.  There is an outlay of Rs. 1500 crore in the 12th Five Year Plan to strengthen the food regulatory system at  the State level.
This information was given by the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad in written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha yesterday.

Magic portions for slimming have free reign

COIMBATORE: Though most of us are well aware that there is no magic portion to lose weight, we easily fall prey to the barrage of advertisements on weight loss drugs making tall claims. Most claim to make the excess fat disappear in an unbelievably short time span without having to endure the pains of physical exercise. Presently, the dietary supplements industry has a free reign, allowing firms to invade the market without essential checks and curbs. However, the industry will soon be brought under the control of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and manufacturers and suppliers have been given time till February 2014 to obtain a valid license from the authority. Until then, these products, many of them unsafe and some of them even lethal, will continue to be sold in the market, putting consumers at risk.
D Kumar, a resident of Ganapathy, is one victim of this free reign. He found the supplements prescribed for his wife and daughter by the obesity clinic at Kovai Medical Centre and Hospital, were unfit for consumption as per the norms of the Food Safety and Security Act. The product, sold at a very high price, was found to be misbranded and the slimming powder itself was found to have traces of fat content. "I was shocked when I got the results from the government approved laboratory. The fact that a doctor from a renowned hospital in the city had prescribed an unsafe product to my family is disconcerting," said D Kumar.
Dr Tamilselvi Periasamy had prescribed the dietary supplement called Slim Drink Starter Level 1 and Slim Drink Ultra Level -2 for the mother daughter duo. The product priced at Rs 850 (Level1) and Rs 750 (Level2) for 750 grams was purchased from the hospital pharmacy. When a sample was tested at the government approved laboratory, it was found to be just a mixture of wheat, ragi and cereal. But what is shocking is the fact that the samples were found to contain yeast and mould fungus, making it unsafe for consumption.
"We have sent the samples to the referral laboratory in Kolkata for final tests and the results are awaited," said R Kathiravan, Designated Officer, Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration (Coimbatore).
An even more startling revelation is the collusion of doctors and manufacturers in selling these dubious drugs to the unsuspecting public. The Slim Drink prescribed by Dr Tamilselvi is manufactured and supplied through the label Slim and Trim owned by the doctor herself. When contacted, Dr Tamilselvi confirmed that she owned the firm but she said she has been prescribing the supplements to numerous patients and she has not received any complaint so far.
Speaking on behalf of KMCH, TC Dinamani, General Manager (human Resource) confirmed the incident, saying the product has been 'temporarily' withdrawn from the hospital pharmacy. "We have stopped selling the product at the moment although we continue to get queries from patients taking the supplement," Dr Tamilselvi claimed.
This multi crore industry classified as 'nutraceutical products' exists in the grey zone between regular food products and pharmaceutical drugs. There also seems to be a nexus between certain medical practitioners, officials and dietary supplement manufactures involved in this industry.
"First of all these dietary supplements and nutraceuticals are exempt from the drug price regulatory norms and the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority norms. So they have a free reign in product pricing," said G Selvaraj, Former Director, Drug Control Department Tamil Nadu.
According to Kathiravan, Designated Officer Food Safety and Drug Administration, not even a single license or No Objection Certificate has been issued to any dietary supplement being sold in Coimbatore. Manufacturers have been given time till February 2014 to obtain license for their products but special prohibitory orders could be issued from the office of Commissioner of Food Safety Office whenever specific complaints arise.
"Not even a single manufacturer or Food Business Operator involved in the sale of dietary supplements have approached us for NOC and product approval. The product license will be given only after we issue the initial NOC and product approval," Kathiravan added.

Quality of packaged drinking water to be tested

Samples will be lifted from all the 32 manufacturing units in the district

High demand during the last several months has led to many units selling poor quality water.— PHOTO: P. GOUTHAM
High demand during the last several months has led to many units selling poor quality water
Following directives from the National Green Tribunal, officials from the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) have started taking samples from packaged drinking water units across the district.
The team including T. Anuradha, District Designated Officer, Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department, and K. Sumithra Bai, Assistant Engineer, TNPCB has so far collected 19 samples from units in Mettur, Salem, Attur, and Omalur.
“Samples will be collected from all the 32 units in the district and will be sent to Food Analysis Laboratory in Guindy, Chennai, for microbiological and chemical analysis,” said Ms. Anuradha.
She said that the collection of samples would be completed by August 30 and a report would be submitted to the Commissioner of Food Safety by September 4. Of the 32 units, five units manufacture flavoured water. She said that based on the report, units would be categorised as A (safe), B (substandard, not unsafe, and not harmful to health), C (substandard, unsafe, and harmful to health), and D (unsafe and harmful to health).
About 3.5 lakh litres of water was processed in the units in the district and distributed to consumers.
Because of higher demand in the last several months, many units were found selling water without meeting the quality norms. Hence samples were taken from five units and were sent to the laboratory in Guindy. Two samples met with the norms and were found to be ‘standard’ while three samples were found to be ‘substandard.’
Those companies were asked to rectify the deficiencies.

300 women from SHGs enlightened on food safety

FDA's Mission Safe Food held at Rajiv Gandhi E-learning school in Sahakarnagar

Star chef Shailendra Kekade, the brand ambassador of Mission Safe Food
With the country is witnessing a large number of food poisoning cases among students having mid-day meals, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) organised a meeting and training session of over 300 women from self-help groups at the Rajiv Gandhi E-learning school in Sahakarnagar, last weekend.
On Tuesday evening, Shashikant Kekare, joint commissioner (FDA), along with Guruvinder Bindra, chairman of Bindra’s Hospitality and celebrity style chef, Shailendra Kekade, addressed a press conference to enlist the programmes undertaken under the Mission Safe Food campaign started by FDA.
The mission envisages to ensure that all food business operators in the city are well trained on sanitary and hygienic practices, with respect to handling food.
“For our first programme, we have got an amazing response. With the innumerable instances of food poisoning happening all across the nation, this has been a step in eradicating the problem from the root. We will be organising a programme every week, which will gradually take us closer to our aim of educating each and every food handler in the city to main sanitation and hygiene, right from the time of acquiring raw materials to the time of storage and consumption,” said Kekare.
The women were taught how to pick up good quality vegetables and grains to ensure that the school children get good quality food. Besides, the basic things like how to wash hands before handling the food so that there is no chance of getting the food contaminated were taught. “While interacting with these women, we also realised that most of the times, it is not the hygiene aspect of the people making the food that results in food poisoning. Instead, the water available in the schools or such things could cause poisoning,” said Bindra, adding that they will also be training the office bearers and principals of the schools to ensure that these aspects are taken care of.
Star chef to promote the campaign
The conference also formally announced that it will rope in star chef Shailendra Kekade as the brand ambassador of the Mission Safe Food campaign. “This will help boost the campaign. Having such a brand ambassador will make us reach the targeted lot,” Kekare added.