Madurai: The next time you walk into a roadside juice bar for a cold drink, think twice before you gulp it. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has come up with this dire warning stating that ice mixed in fruit, sugarcane juices and sherbet being sold in all wayside eateries could well be the one used for preserving seafood and flowers.
Though health officials have recommended drinking plenty of water to keep you hydrated in summer, the use of ice in juices could land you in hospital. The trend is mostly down to the easy availability of inedible ice, also known as industrial ice, manufactured using non-purified water in hazardous environment and the ignorance of public about the health issues they pose.
FSSAI officials said there are stringent regulations and instructions that hygiene should be ensured before making ice for human consumption, but this is not happening when it comes to the manufacturing of industrial ice. This has made edible ice cost five times the price of the industrial one, which is sold Rs 2 a kg.
The officials have ordered ice manufacturers to add indigo carmine or brilliant blue up to 10 PPM (part per million) to overcome the problem. It has asked all the district level officials in the state to monitor and ensure the new procedure is followed with effect from June 1.
Asked about the sources of the ice they use, many traders failed to give a definite answer. “We do not know where the ice is manufactured and whether the vendor follows the procedures. We would be happy to give better quality ice. I don’t know how to distinguish between the good and the bad,” said a sugarcane vendor from South Gate who buys the ice from a dealer who delivers it at the doorstep for Rs 5 a kg.
Designated food safety officer for Madurai district M Somasundaram said they make sure that the rules and regulations are strictly adhered to by calling a meeting of the manufacturers in Madurai and discussing the issue in detail. Most manufacturers are doing the business without registration, he said.
Consuming juices mixed with ice manufactured from unhygienic water could leave one vulnerable to diseases like throat infection, cough, cold, hepatitis A, diarrheal diseases and even jaundice. Somasundaram urged people to be cautious while consuming drinks mixed with inedible ice.
“Soon, people will be able to distinguish between edible and industrial ice as the latter would have blue colour added to it. Severe action would be initiated against those selling industrial ice to juice and sherbet vendors,” he said. FSSAI sources said that substances like formaldehyde, which is used in preservation, is used in industrial ice. Seafood traders buying such ice as they can be sued to retain the stock for longer period.