NEW DELHI: India is on high alert against the deadly strain of Shiga toxin-producing
E coli, that has infected over 1,700 people across 12 European nations. The deadly
food-borne bacteria is causinghaemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) or kidney failure.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) has informed its officials
posted in the five major ports and four airports which receive imports, to watch
out for all food items, especially fruits and vegetables, coming in from Europe.
All such items will first be tested in FSSAI labs before being allowed into the
Speaking to TOI, FSSAI CEO Dr V N Gaur said, "We are keeping a close watch on all
imports into India, especially food items. Records, however, show no food items
have come to India in the past five months from Europe."
He said, "We have alerted our staff in the major ports like Kolkata, Haldia, Mumbai,
Chennai and JNPT and airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata to keep a close
So far, the outbreak has claimed at least 17 lives in Europe. Besides Germany, which
is believed to the first country that was affected, the bacterial infection has
also been reported from Austria,Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Norway,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain and the United States.
The World Health Organisation has urged countries not to impose any trade restrictions
in the face of this outbreak. However, Russia and Belgium have clamped a ban on
vegetables from Spain and Germany.
E coli is common bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and part of the normal bacterial
flora. However, some E coli strains are able to produce a toxin that could produce
serious infection. Humans acquire the infection by consuming contaminated food or
water. Following an incubation period of about 3-4 days, a variety of gastrointestinal
symptoms appear, ranging from mild to severe bloody diarrhoea, mostly without fever.
The one causing infection now is a highly virulent mutated strain.
WHO recently stated that this strain of E coli "is a unique strain that has never
been isolated from patients before" and there may be "various characteristics that
make it more virulent and toxin-producing".
WHO says that HUS is characterized by acute renal failure, haemolytic anaemia and
thrombocytopenia. It is estimated that up to 10% of patients with this latest infection
may develop HUS, with a case-fatality rate ranging from 3% to 5%.
Overall, HUS is the most common cause of acute renal failure in young children.
It can cause neurological complications (such as seizure, stroke and coma) in 25%
of HUS patients and chronic renal sequelae, usually mild, in around 50% of survivors.
New Delhi: Whether the vitamin pill you pop every day is a drug or a food supplement
depends on whether you are consuming it in the US or India. The
ambiguity over the way these products are regulated in India is prompting a clutch
of direct selling firms to push multi-vitamin preparations as food supplements in
Firms such as Amway, Daehsan Trading and Elken International, which are entering
the dietary supplement market of India, however, need to tweak the original composition
of their vitamin formulations specially for the Indian market. The reformulation
is to ensure that these products do not fall under the definition of ‘drugs’, which
will entail more stringent regulatory requirements. While drugs are regulated under
the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, food supplements fall under the Prevention of Food
If these products are marketed as drugs, the firms will have to furnish clinical
evidence of the therapeutic claims they make, meet the stringent licensing norms
of the Drug Controller General of India and may even have to reduce prices, if the
drug falls under the Drug Price Control Order. Sandip Misra, CEO, Elken International,
told FE: “We have altered the composition of some of our products. For instance,
Calrich, which is a calcium supplement, has undergone some compositional changes
to be in line with the Indian food standards.” According to Amway, highly regulated
markets such as the US, EU and even some Southeast Asian markets permit much higher
vitamin levels in the composition of food supplements. “These markets follow the
Codex Alimentarius guidelines of upper safety limits of vitamins and minerals as
the higher permissible limits in composition for food supplements,” an Amway spokesperson
said. The purpose of supplements are different from drugs, he noted. Supplements
are being marketed for specific anti-oxidant or nutrient properties and not for
any curatory purpose.
These firms also say that the regulation of nutraceuticals is a grey area which
calls for an exclusive set of guidelines, for which they are in touch with the Food
Safety and Standards Authority of India. Amarnath Sen Gupta, country manager, Daehsan
Trading, narrates an anecdote: “Our product Morinzhi, a juice of Morinda and Roselle
was detained in India for not being sweet enough. These fruits, even under ripe
conditions, are not sweet. Under the Indian standards, a minimum sweetness is prescribed
for every fruit juice measured by the Total Soluble Solid (TSS). For Morinzhi, we
had to actually alter the global standard to add more sweetness to meet Indian regulatory
requirement.” “This was because the authorities here could not be convinced that
the TSS requirements are not valid for Morinda and any shortfall in TSS standard
has no bearing on the product quality and utility,” said Gupta.
However, government officials told FE that the nutraceutical firms should have no
reason to complain as Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) here have just been revised
late last year. This revision came 22 years after the previous one in 1988. In contrast,
the US revisits its RDA guidelines every five years. A member of the ICMR expert
group told FE: “For instance, on calcium supplements, a committee had held in 1988
that population groups in many developing countries subsist on a much lower calcium
intake than in developed countries without any ill effects.
However, last year, a committee after examining evidence for calcium nutrition status
of the Indian population suggested an upward revision of calcium RDA.” The blurred
line between drug and food supplement surfaced prominently in 2009 when the drug
price regulator stated that pharma firms are marketing drugs as food supplement
to escape the price ceiling net. In a letter to the health ministry, it cited the
example of food supplements such as Ranbaxy's Revital and Germany-based Merck KgaA's
vitamin E product Evion which it said were earlier being marketed as drugs. A Bihar
High Court order of 2009, however, held that health supplements marketed by various
drug companies such as Feradol manufactured by Pfizer, Revital (Ranbaxy), A to Z
(Alkem), Beneficial, CSN and DSN capsules (Shreya Life Sciences) need to be marketed
as health supplements as the manufacturers have made no therapeutic claims on the
label to suggest that can cure. The Indian nutraceutical market – Rs 4,400 crore
in 2009 – is expected to more than double to Rs 9500 crore by 2013. The Codex Alimentarius
Commission was created in 1963 by UN's Food and Agricultural Organization and World
Health Organization to develop international food standards and guidelines.
The first phase of the long-in-limbo food SEZ—Pearl City Food Port SEZ—is likely
to be completed by June-July 2011. Already a honey unit has started operations at
the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and the concerned company is planning to export
its products soon.
Speaking to FnB News, G V S Mani, head, marketing & business development, Pearl
City Food Port SEZ, informs, “Apart from the honey unit, a coffee unit is likely
to be operational in July, a pulses processing unit may receive notification from
the concerned ministry by May 31, 2011, and a nutritional products and health products
company and a packaging company, are also fast-nearing completion.”
The pulses processing unit is likely to start exporting its produce as early as
August of this year. Mani states, “Being an SEZ, the produce from here will be exported
to other countries, unlike that of food parks, which are not considered to be export-oriented
units by the government.”
He adds, “Further, the SEZ is strategically located near the Tuticorin port, which
is known for export of seafood, agricultural commodities like sugar, and tea and
spices. The location will be also useful from the point of import of raw materials.”
In addition to the above-mentioned four new units, the SEZ has been receiving requests
from companies that are dealing in wheat-based products, specialty areas, tea, spices
and so on. The SEZ can accommodate 40-50 units under the first phase.
As for the perceived delay in execution of the project, Mani explains, “the project
was not exactly delayed, we were awaiting the notification from the Commerce Ministry
since 2009-10. Once the approval for setting up the processing zone on 294 acres
out of the planned 425 acres was received, work on phase one was started about a
couple of months ago.”
He adds, “As part of the phase one, infrastructure development works such as laying
of roads, providing electricity and making provision for water supply have been
taken up. These are likely to be completed by June-July 2011.”
According to Mani, soon a food testing lab will also be set up at the SEZ, after
which, warehousing and cold storage facilities will come up as part of the common
facilities. Mani adds, “These common facilities are very important for small and
medium units as these lessen their investment in the unit.” Under the second phase,
the SEZ will take up work on the residential and commercial areas.
In a bid to help the food processing industry and farmers in the country, a two-day
national conference on career and research trends in food processing, which will
also cover the aspect of food wastage, will be held at the Indian Institute of Crop
Processing Technology (IICPT), under Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI),
Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, on June 24 and 25, 2011.
“We are going to focus on all aspects of food processing and food wastage and discuss
technological innovations in the sector,” Dr Singara Vadivel K, principal scientist,
IICPT, informed FnB News.
Besides food processing, the event would also focus on the workshop on bulk storage
systems and HACCP food safety in food industries.
Dr Vadivel explained that there was a huge food loss of about 30 to 40 per cent
in the country due to lack of technology and skilled labour in the food industry
whereby he clearly indicated that there was a need to focus on food processing and
storage facility today.
Moreover the event would highlight various aspects of meat processing such as hygienic
ways of cutting meat for butchers.
Dr Vadivel said that food processing would also help minimise fluctuation in prices
of agro-products citing an example of tomato, which could be sold as value-added
product even in off-season with the help of food processing.
The event is likely to witness 1,500-2,000 visitors this year with many guest speakers
covering various aspects of food processing, technological innovations and food
storages. Farmers will also benefit from such a platform whereby they will be given
an opportunity to form a farmers group whereby they can sell their products seeking
Dr Vadivel further said that the event would basically involve only national speakers
unlike last year wherein about 30 foreign speakers participated.
With the prevailing countrywide ban on the production, sale and use of endosulfan
pesticide by the Supreme Court and the continuing debate over it, a seminar to support
“Organic Farming” was held in Bhopal recently, sources told FnB News.
The sources added that the seminar was held with attendance by eminent scientist
Dr Pushp Bhargava and others who have been working on bringing organic farming into
The sources further informed that in order to reduce the use of pesticides in agricultural
practices, the practice of organic farming was realised by the Centre as it had
its own advantages over the crops.
The sources confirmed that “the final draft of the organic farming policy” was likely
to be out soon.
The ongoing debate over the commercial release of genetically-modified crop Bt Brinjal
in the country, heated up once again in a recent meeting of the Genetic Engineering
Approval Committee (GEAC). This was informed by sources in the concerned ministry
to FnB News.
According to these sources, 11 out of 16 members attended the meeting. From among
those who attended, only Dr P M Bhargava, founder of Centre for Cellular and Molecular
Biology (CCMB), opposed any kind of release of Bt Brinjal, while Prof. M S Swaminathan,
noted agricultural scientist, and others were keen to discuss further.
The sources said that it was GEAC, which was responsible to deal with more bio-safety
issues of GM crops, and that the committee had decided that the National Institute
of Nutrition (NIN) would conduct a study so as to reach the final decision on the
commercial release of Bt Brinjal.
“The meeting consisted of presentations and discussions with some strong arguments
being made that there was no need for further testing of Bt Brinjal. Strong views
were expressed on limited release, with testing taken up parallel to it,” one of
the source said.
However, earlier the National Institute of Unani Medicine (NIUM), National Medicinal
Plants Board (NMPB), and department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha
and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) had expressed concern over the likely impact of GM Brinjal
on traditional Indian medicines. Also, Jairam Ramesh, environment minister, had
apprehensions on the commercial release of Bt Brinjal in January 2010.
The sources explained that the meeting reveiwed Bt Brinjal with an “Expert Group”
for the first time. Meanwhile, the Coalition for GM-free India also warned and pointed
out that the lack of independent expertise and balance in the constitution of such
expert groups would come up with predictable outcomes every time, questioning, how
could a different outcome be possible when the same set of people who cleared the
Bt Brinjal earlier were involved.
Sources confirmed that several GM crop developers and members who attended the meeting
in the past were involved this time as well and out of the 11 members, at least
five favoured the release of Bt Brinjal in the country, knowing the ill-effects
of GM crops.
The sources further informed that if the committee approved a limited release of
Bt Brinjal, there would be cases of illegal sowing of such seeds, forcing the government
to make the release complete.
“The concept seems to be like contaminate first and then go ahead with approval,”
sources said and added that around 11 states had already expressed disapproval of
GM crops last year in a written statement to Jairam Ramesh.
Since the discovery in 2002 that acrylamide is formed when starchy foods are baked
or fried at high temperatures, this natural chemical substance has been raising
a number of concerns and posing manufacturers with the challenge of how to effectively
reduce its concentration in their products. The CIAA, the Confederation of Food
and Drink Industries of the EU, launched an acrylamide reduction toolbox to offer
the most efficient solutions to assist the affected industries. The toolbox is a
combination of suggestions for changes in raw materials, processes and recipes,
with importance placed on the fact that the brand-specific customer acceptance of
the final products should not be impacted. There is one option within the toolkit
that is growing in appeal — the innovative use of the enzyme asparaginase.
Health and taste appeal
Acrylaway has been proven to substantially reduce acrylamide in a broad range of
foods - biscuits, crisp bread, crackers, and potato-based snacks, and lab and pilot
tests in French fry production also indicate feasible acrylamide reduction. What
is truly appealing about Acrylaway is that the reduction of acrylamide in these
food types is achieved without altering the tempting flavour or visual aspect of
potato-based snacks – a sizeable bonus for food manufacturers who are searching
for acrylamide-reducing solutions and worry about the continued allure of their
products for consumers.
Back to basics
The main mechanisms that cause the formation of acrylamide are commonly found in
starchy foods – reducing sugars and the amino acid asparagine. During the baking
or frying stage, a process called the Maillard reaction occurs –essential for important
colour and flavour developments in baked, fried, and toasted foods. Through a cascade
of reactions, the side chain of asparagine is converted into acrylamide. Acrylaway
enzymatically removal of the amino acid asparagine by converting it into aspartic
acid, enabling the other ingredients to remain part of the Maillard reaction.
So the texture and delicious flavour remains while acrylamide is dramatically reduced.
“Although there are other technologies to reduce acrylamide, asparaginases such
as Acrylaway are the only solution that does not alter the quality of the final
product,” says Emmanuel Michelot, regional marketing manager for Novozymes Food
The natural solution
Today’s consumers are conscious and cautious about what they eat. Health and food
quality are major drivers for the market right now, and food safety is a key consumer
concern. Partner with Novozymes and Acrylaway to ensure that acrylamide levels are
reduced in potato-based products without altering their taste and appearance – and
in turn, produce healthy food that benefits consumers and society.
Making milk digestible
Almost all infants are born with the enzyme lactase, which provides them with the
ability to digest lactose, the predominant carbohydrate in milk. However, the ability
to digest lactose is reduced in early childhood for many people around the world.
It is estimated that approximately 70% of the world population suffers to a degree
from lactose intolerance. This means that society at large is calling for a solution
that breaks down lactose and enables everyone to enjoy and benefit from these products.
A cost-efficient solution is to treat milk and milk-based products with a lactase
enzyme. Lactases work through breaking down lactose to a mixture consisting primarily
of glucose and galactose, which can be safely digested by virtually everyone. In
addition to eliminating lactose, the resulting milk product has a naturally sweeter
taste. In fact, lactase has been used traditionally in the manufacturing of ice-cream.
As glucose and galactose are sweeter than lactose, it enhances the taste, while
also helping to ensure a smoother texture. This is because lactose usually crystallises
at low temperatures, causing sandiness in ice-cream, but its constituent products,
glucose and galactose, remain dissolved.
Novozymes Lactozym Pure is an exceptionally pure lactase that offers a host of unique
benefits. It comes in a variety of different product strengths, instantly offering
process flexibility. It is robust and capable of working at the pH ranges found
in most milk and milk-based products such as regular fresh milk, UHT milk, ice cream,
lassies and dulce de leche. What truly makes this product stand out, is its purity.
Not only does its high purity improve filterability, but most importantly, it reduces
the likelihood of the milk product developing off-flavours. This is of particular
use in the production of UHT milk, an ever-growing industry. UHT milk is popular
throughout Europe, particularly in countries with centralised dairy operations consisting
of a few large units. In these situations, the milk often needs to be transported
over long distances, and UHT is favoured over pasteurised milk as it saves on the
high costs, and eliminates the difficulties, associated with refrigerated transportation.
Before opening, UHT milk has a typical shelf life of six to nine months. Lactozym
Pure ensures that no off-flavours develop, which helps to maintain the pure and
authentic flavour of UHT milk products during prolonged storage.
With the desire to consume milk and milk-based products growing throughout the world,
it makes sense to implement an effective and natural solution that breaks down lactose
and enables everyone to consume and benefit from these products. Lactozym Pure is
an effective and natural way to do exactly this – and its purity supports the development
of superior, lactose-free milk products.
NEW DELHI: Delhi Health Minister A. K. Walia has said that the State Government
would be enforcing the new Food Safety and Standard Act-2006 within the next three
months, thereby ensuring heavy fine and punishment of up to life imprisonment for
adulteration. Also, all food establishments would now be required to procure a licence
and all shopkeepers will have to get themselves registered.
Speaking in the wake of the recent intensification of raids against adulteration,
the Minister said the rules under the Act have been notified. With the enforcement
of the new Act, he said, there will be severe penalties and punishment for food
As per the new Act, Dr. Walia said all food business operators will have to get
themselves registered or licensed with the Department of Prevention of Food Adulteration.
Shopkeepers will also have to apply for registration whereas the other business
establishment will have to get a licence. Under the new law, the punishment has
been divided into two categories. In case of sub-standard, misbranded food and in
case of misleading advertisement about the food products (not injurious to health),
the cases will not go to court but a fine of up to Rs.10 lakh would be imposed.
But in case of unsafe foods, the punishment will be imprisonment up to seven years
with a fine of up to Rs.10 lakh. In case of death caused due to adulterated food
items, the maximum punishment will be life imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs.10
The new Act will also have a provision for paying compensation for injury or death.
In case of death, compensation will be up to Rs.5 lakh; in case of grievous injury
up to Rs.3 lakh and in case of minor injury up to Rs.1 lakh. Subsequent offences
would incur twice the punishment and for the petty manufacturers there would be
provision of compounding of offences.
Dr. Walia said the other penalties would include a fine of up to Rs.1 lakh for unhygienic
or unsanitary processing or manufacturing of food; Rs.2 lakh for selling food not
of the nature or substance or quality demanded; up to Rs.3 lakh for misbranded food
and up to Rs.5 lakh for sub-standard food.
Dr. Walia said the PFA Department was committed to overcoming the menace of food
adulteration as it posed a major health hazard to the people.
He said during April this year, 264 food samples were lifted out of which 40 were
found to be adulterated and four to be mis-branded whereas results of 43 samples
were still awaited.
The Minister said of the samples, 32 were of spices, 31 of milk products, 22 each
of pulses, cereals and milk, 18 of edible oil and 17 from eating establishments.
Apart from this, 69 samples of miscellaneous food items were taken for testing.
In order to improve conditions of the abattoirs in the country under the 12th Plan,
the National Meat and Poultry Processing Board (NMPPB), under the ministry of food
processing industries (MoFPI), has taken up an initiative to provide consultancy
to build around 160 modern abattoirs across the country.
The first abattoir to be set up under the initiative, has already started working
in Dholpur district of Rajasthan, a week ago. The body has already executed an empanelment
of representatives from all states who could work on the newly initiated project.
“Our main intention is to help build a strong base for all the slaughter houses
for the fact that the condition of slaughter houses is pathetic today and needs
a lot of attention”,
And we have already approached the state governments for the support, Achint Gupta,
executive assistant, NMPPB, informed FnB News.
Gupta further stated that the work was still in progress and would continue for
three to four months to reach its target adding that this was one of the projects
which had just begun and that a lot more projects were in the pipeline.
Gupta confirmed that the board was already in correspondence with state municipal
corporations such as Chandigarh, Jammu, Nagaland, Kolhapur and Bhubaneshwar in this
Besides consultancy, the board is also inviting membership entries from aspirants
who want to be a part of the project such as research institutes, scientists, academicians,
and meat and poultry experts.
BHOPAL: The Madhya Pradesh government has banned genetically modified (GM) seeds
in the state with agriculture minister Ramkrishna Kusmariya saying that scientifically
re-engineered foodgrain and vegetables will become "non-vegetarian" and "end" Indian
The same minister had blamed crop destruction because of heavy winter rains three
months ago on the "sins of the farmers".
Kusmariya told reporters in Damoh on Thursday that his department won't permit use
of GM seeds in the state because "use of GM seeds would make every grain and vegetable
non-vegetarian and end our vegetarian culture". He claimed that "nothing will remain
vegetarian if genes and bacteria are infused in the DNA of grains and vegetables".
The much-delayed-but-anxiously-awaited FSSAI (Food Safety & Standards Authority
of India) regulations on nutraceuticals are likely to be out by June, according
to a member of one of the scientific panels constituted by the body recently.
Another panel member, Dr D B Ananth Narayana, an independent consultant and nutraceuticals
expert, Bangalore, hinted at some activity with regard to regulations to FnB News
in a chat over telephone, “Being one of the members in the nutraceutical panel,
I am happy about the way FSSAI has decided to adopt the method to frame the regulations
Interestingly, the FSSAI, which reconstituted the new scientific committee and different
scientific panels to provide scientific opinion to the food authority, on Wednesday,
revealed the names and other details of the respective panel members through its
The committee and the panels will be responsible for providing scientific and multi-sectoral
opinions to the food authority, ensuring general coordination for consistency in
scientific opinion and adopting working procedures.
Around eight panels have been formed covering all categories in foods and the members
have been appointed considering the Supreme Court’s directive on selection criteria.
According to the earlier-mentioned source, the forum will work in areas of food
and necessary guidelines depending on the final project concept drafted as the views
of external experts, scientists, regulators, and academicians. Thereafter the inputs
will be revealed to the stakeholders for their comments and will be reviewed again.
Hence this would give much scope for stakeholders to review and help frame regulations
in a better way.
Earlier the draft would take 6-12 weeks for the stakeholders to comment as the government
was directly in-charge of appointing members and draft notifications, giving limited
scope for the stakeholders of various institutions to review and comment. But this
has changed now.
Further the source added that it was a convenient and better approach by FSSAI this
year, seeking different members from various backgrounds to frame regulations for
In order to promote nutritionally adequate diets in the country, the National Institute
of Nutrition (NIN) has revised its dietary guidelines for Indian people, which are
meant to be practical and based on prevailing situation in the food industry. The
revised guidelines were released recently.
Today the economic transition has changed the lives of the people, particularly
in the urban sector, at a rapid pace in society. Hence, people have shifted their
focus from traditional to modern foods with a change in cooking practices and increased
intake of processed and ready-to-eat foods.
This being the background, “The guidelines basically emphasise on promotion of health
and prevention of disease of all groups with special focus on infants, children
and adolescents, pregnant and lactating women,” Dr D Raghunatha Rao, scientist,
and deputy director, member and convener, Dietary Guidelines Committee, informed
Fifteen guidelines mentioned mainly focus on coping with malnutrition problems in
children, chronic energy deficiency in adults, indicating the effects from recent
evidences of under-nutrition.
Meanwhile, the guidelines have highlighted some effective points for optimal health
such as include green leafy vegetables in daily diet, to consume more other vegetables
and fruits as much as possible, which would help to meet the basic requirements
Rao stated that there was an increased demand for processed, ready-to-eat and convenience
foods due to changes in lifestyle. He explained that as processed foods lack in
dietary fibre and micronutrients, caution needs to be exercised when they constitute
a major part of the meal.
Rao confirmed that public awareness campaign would be carried out in order to educate
people in the country, seeking such NGOs assistance who would look into the issues.
A high-level conference of officials and researchers, convened by Agriculture Minister
Mullakkara Ratnakaran here on Wednesday, decided to ban several red category pesticides
and introduce restrictions on the use of certain yellow category weedicides and
fungicides in the State.
An order for enforcing the decision is likely to be issued in a day or two as part
of implementing the State's organic farming policy.
The policy recommends phasing out of pesticides over ten years, considering the
peculiar characteristics of the ecosystems in the State. Kerala Agriculture University
has already prepared a revised package of practices for agriculture.
Chemicals to be banned
The red category chemicals listed for ban include furadan, phorate, methyl parathion,
monocrotophos, and methyl demeton. Rodenticides bromadiolone and zinc phosphide
have been recommended for restricted use, besides agro-chemicals such as karatee,
chlorpyrifos, and cypermethrin.
Use of yellow category pesticides such as profenophos and triazophos is also proposed
to be restricted under the policy.
The conference resolved that pesticide use should be severely restricted in biodiversity
hotspots of the State. Sale of red category pesticides is already banned in Kasaragod
and Wayanad districts.
Measures should be taken to educate workers regarding safe use of pesticides and
disposal of unused pesticides and wastes. They should also be encouraged to wear
The conference also discussed the problem of pesticide residues in various fruits
and vegetables arriving in Kerala from other States and decided to establish five
regional testing laboratories to test fruits and vegetables for residues.
Senior officials and researchers of the Agriculture Department, Kerala Agriculture
University, Kerala Biodiversity Board and non-governmental organisations attended
Farmers are guided to use ethylene gas in pressurized cans for ripening “How many
times, have the bright red colour of the apples or the golden colored mangoes attracted
you to buying them from the shelves? “For all that gloss and glitter: in reality
the bright colour can contain lethal toxins dangerous for human health. The method
used for ripening fruits must be given due care by farmers and traders as it decides
the end use of the fruits — those consuming it,” says Dr. M. Selvarajan, Professor
and Head, Department of fruit crops, Horticultural college and research institute,
Periyakulam, Tamil Nadu. “Lack of easier and rapid methods for uniform ripening
poses a major problem in the fruit industry. Almost all methods of ripening, either
conventional or the modern chemical methods, come with their own merits and demerits,”
There are several technologies and methods available today for farmers for proper
ripening. Normally the number of days taken for edible ripening varies for different
fruits and prevailing climatic conditions. For instance, it takes about 5 to 6 days
for mangoes and 6 to 7 days for sapotas to ripen. Under natural conditions, ethylene,
a ripening hormone produced by the plant plays a major physiological role in the
ripening process. A simple technology practiced in households to trigger ripening
is to keep un-ripened and ripened fruits together inside an air tight container.
Since the already ripened fruits release ethylene, ripening will be faster. Another
method is to place the fruits intended for ripening inside an air tight room and
induce ripening through smoking inside smoke chambers.
Smoke emanates acetylene gas. Several fruit traders follow this technique to achieve
uniform ripening especially in banana and mango. “But the major drawback of this
method is that the fruits do not attain uniform colour and flavour. In addition
the persistence of smoke odour on the product impairs its quality,” adds Dr. Selvarajan.
In yet another practice some farmers dip unripe mature fruits in 0.1 per cent ethrel
solution (1 ml of ethrel solution in 1 litre of water) and wipe it dry. The fruits
are then spread over a newspaper without touching each other and a thin cotton cloth
is covered over this. The fruits ripen in two days.
Spreading unripe fruits as layers over paddy husk or wheat straw for a week to ripen
is another alternative. But these conventional methods possess some disadvantages
like longer duration for ripening, high degree of spoilage due to excessive handling
and lack of uniformity in colour development. About one-fourth of the fruits are
spoilt by these methods, according to him. In one of the simple and harmless techniques,
10 ml of ethrel and 2 gm of sodium hydroxide pellets are mixed in five litres of
water taken in a wide mouthed vessel.
This vessel is placed inside the ripening chamber near the fruits and the room is
sealed air tight. About a third of the room is filled with fruits leaving the remaining
area for air circulation. Ripening of fruits takes place in about 12 to 24 hours.
“In order to reduce the cost of chemical, some ethylene releasing fruits such as
papaya and banana can also kept in the same room. Since ethrel is a plant hormone
and hastens the ripening process by the release of ethylene in the atmosphere this
practice may be the safest method,” explains Dr. S.P. Thamaraiselvi, Assistant Professor
of the Institute..
Today many growers and traders use calcium carbide that emits acetylene gas. Fruits
ripened using calcium carbide are carcinogenic and should not be consumed. Farmers
and traders should become more aware about the dangerous effects in using the chemical.
“At our institute we are guiding farmers desirous of exporting their products using
ethylene gas filled in pressurized cans for fruit ripening in 24-48 hours,” says
We live in a sea of radiation. In any city, an unsuspecting owner of a 0.1 acre
backyard garden may not know that the top one metre of soil from his garden contains
11,200 kg of potassium, 1.28 kg which is of potassium- 40 (K-40, a radioactive isotope
of potassium), 3.6 kg of thorium and one kg of uranium. These values may be higher
or lower depending on the soil. Uranium and thorium decay through several radio-nuclides
to lead, a stable element. The presence of radioactive nuclides does not pose any
The total annual external dose from sources in soil and cosmic rays in Mumbai, Kolkata,
Chennai, Delhi and Bengaluru is 0.484, 0.81, 0.79, 0.70 and 0.825 milligray respectively.
Gray is a unit for absorbed dose; when the radiation energy imparted to a kg of
material is one joule, it is called a gray. Since gray is very large, milligray
(one thousandth of a gray), and microgray (one millionth of a gray), are commonly
used. Cosmic rays come from outer space. Their intensity at a place depends on the
altitude. Cosmic rays alone contribute 0.28 milligray at the first three cities
as they are at sea level; the column of air helps to reduce their intensity. At
high altitudes, the protection from the column of air is less. The cosmic ray contributions
are higher at 0.31 milligray and 0.44 milligray respectively at Delhi and Bengaluru
as these cities are at altitudes of 216 metre and 921 metre. Air passengers receive
5 microgray per hour from cosmic rays.
Parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are high background radiation areas (HBRA) because
of the presence of large quantities of monazite in the soil. Thorium content in
monazite ranges from 8-10.5 per cent. Researchers found that the radiation levels
in 12 Panchayats in Karunagappally varied between 0.32 to 76 milligrays per year;
the levels in 90 per cent of over 71,000 houses were more than one milligray per
year. The average value of population dose in HBRA is 3.8 milligray per year. One
milligray is the average value for areas of normal background radiation. The units
milligray and millisievert are the same in these instances. Study at the HBRA during
1990-99 by the researchers from the Regional Cancer Centre and Bhabha Atomic Research
Centre did not show any health effect attributable to radiation. Radon, which occurs
in uranium series present in soil seeps into homes. In temperate areas radon decay
products build up in air due to poor ventilation and deliver high doses to the lungs
of millions of people. In tropics ventilation is adequate to disperse radon .In
the United Kingdom persons in 5 per cent of the homes are exposed to doses above
23.7 mSv/year. One per cent of the population receives doses above 55.8 mSv/year.
The highest estimated dose was 320 mSv/year in Cornwall. All foodstuffs contain
potassium-40 (K-40). We need potassium for sustenance. K-40 is 0.012 per cent of
potassium. Once ingested, most of the potassium enters the blood stream directly
and gets distributed to all tissues and organs.
The potassium content in the human body is strictly under homeostatic control. The
body retains only the amounts in the normal range essential for its functioning;
it is independent of the variations in the environmental levels. The body excretes
excess amounts with a biological half life of 30 days. K-40 delivers a constant
annual radiation dose of 0.18 mSv to soft tissue. This dose is unavoidable as potassium
is an essential element. Every time we eat a banana, we are introducing 14 Bq of
K-40 in to our body. Trucks containing bananas have triggered radiation alarms at
border posts in the U.S.
Brazil nut is probably the most radioactive food. Scientists have measured 700Bq
of radium per kg of Brazil nut. The roots of the Brazil nut tree pass through acres
of land; They have a tendency to concentrate barium; along with barium, the roots
collect radium as well. Radium appears in the nuts. Many vegetables like brinjal,
carrot etc. also contain the radioactive isotope. Indian researchers have measured
polonium-210 in fish and other marine organisms. Our whole body is hit by particles
coming from all sides. Radiation is a part of our life. We cannot avoid eating food
just because it contains radioactivity
A three-day “Global Symposium on Ready-to-Eat (RTE) Foods: Opportunities for R&D,
Entrepreneurship and Markets” was organized by the International Crops Research
Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in association with ASSOCOM India
and with support from the Ministry of Food Processing, Government of India.
With shifting consumer trends and changing eating patterns worldwide, the meet sought
to promote RTE foods to a wider market through the transfer of technologies to entrepreneurs.
It also addressed various food challenges such as meeting the demands for innovative,
healthy and safe meal solutions for a busy lifestyle. The role of micro, small-
and medium-scale enterprises was highlighted as vital in improving people's livelihood
opportunities and increasing their participation in the agro-food industry.
Tackling the issue of food safety in the Indian food industry, Mr. P.I. Suvrathan,
Chairperson, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), spoke on the
new Food Safety and Standards Act and how it “shall revolutionize the way food safety
is perceived by the food industry and the consumers alike, in India.” He stressed
that safety of foods is the primary responsibility of the food business operators.
“This global symposium on ready-to-eat foods is a step towards exploring new markets
and creating demand for a wider diversity of higher-value foodstuffs and in reducing
poverty by fostering agro-enterprises,” said ICRISAT Director General William Dar.
The goals of the symposium, he added, are consistent with the Institute's Inclusive
Market-Oriented Development or IMOD strategy which focuses on helping the farming
poor to access markets to increase their food supplies and incomes.
Mr. Dave Hoisington, ICRISAT Deputy Director General (Research), expounded on the
Institute's Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) where inclusive growth and
innovation is the key. He pointed out that NutriPlus Knowledge Program, one of the
three components of AIP, aims to engage with the public sector, the private sector
food industry, and advanced food research institutes to promote the cause of smallholder
farmers of the semi-arid tropics.
Children prefer snacking on chips, burgers, noodles, pasta, samosas and other junk
foods being sold in schools canteens, leading to lifestyle diseases, an ASSOCHAM
survey has found.
Releasing the survey, “Rise in consumption pattern of junk food in school”, ASSOCHAM
Health Committee chairman Dr. B. K. Rao said there was a need to improve children's
nutrition by setting health standards for snacks and beverages sold in school canteens.
The survey was conducted in 25 private and public school canteens in Delhi and the
National Capital Region among 5,000 children.
It found that kids preferred junk food like pizzas, burgers, chowmein, samosas,
pasta which are heavy in fats, salt and sugar. Due to this, many children develop
“Not just parents but the school management should urge canteens to sell healthy
snacks instead of junk foods as children spend more time in school,” said Dr. Rao.
The survey found that children buy food from the canteen at least four times a week.
Half the children surveyed said they eat eggs, pulses and nuts only once a week.
Most of the children said they feel extremely tired by the end of the day and can
only jog for 10 minutes at a stretch.
“Certain unexplored aspects like the need for school canteen guidelines and the
impact of advertisements on children's eating habits needs to be debated. Health
intervention at school is the need of the hour,” stressed Dr. Rao.
Seventy-seven per cent of children wanted to opt for fruit juice and 60 per cent
wanted flavoured milk. Nevertheless, samosas, chips and patties sold the most in
The survey also indicates that 75 per cent of the canteen operators approached were
interested in providing healthier food options but profit making was their primary
About 80 per cent parents liked their children to carry home-cooked food to school
on all six days, though 39 per cent of them also give Rs.20-40 to their children
to buy canteen food.
Also, around 56 per cent children spend Rs.50 every day at the canteen with burgers
and noodles selling the most, 45 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.
Schools also agreed that the eating habits of children need urgent attention as
cases of obesity and cardio-vascular diseases at an early age are rising.
However, some schools have started healthy practices like daily fruit breaks where
children and teacher together eat fruits.
“Healthy food needs to be considered normal not boring. Getting rid of packaged
foods is a great thing to do health-wise and environmentally. Parents need to remember
that kids consume 30 per cent of their daily kilojoules at school so they should
be carefully monitoring what is put in the lunch box or ordered from the canteen,”
added Dr. Rao.
Consuming nutritious food and adopting a healthy lifestyle will enable students
to grow and develop to their optimum potential, leading to improved educational
Dr. Rao also mentioned that “a healthy diet also plays a preventative role in relation
to nutrition-related conditions such as overweight, obesity and dental disease,
and, in later life, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus.”
Gujarat Food and Drug Control Administration have planned training sessions on April
23 and 24, 2011, in Gandhinagar.
The training session on April 23 would involve imparting awareness on food safety
to consumer forums, social organisations and NGOs.
The FDCA will aim at sensitising these groups on various food safety aspects, grievance
redressal procedures and provide a demo on the use of food-testing kits. These kits,
FDA claims, could lessen the burden of food inspectors and by these forums conduct
small tests, like identifying water in milk, non-edible item in oil and non-edible
colours in sweets. The Administration aims to distribute these free of cost.
“By educating these bodies we may be able to reach masses at large,” said H G Koshia,
commissioner, FDCA, Gujarat.
The training on April 24 would focus on public prosecutors who represent the government
in food adulteration cases. “We will sensitise them on the most common causes of
acquittals and how adulterators resort to chasing loopholes in law to setting themselves
free. This would help tame such miscreants and have more number of convictions,”
The Government Fruit Preservation Factory (GFPF) in Sikkim is all set to launch
packaged drinking water and set up a food processing training centre at its premises.
At a function held recently, GFPF honoured its distributors for their support in
increasing its turnover in financial year 2010-11. The GFPF recorded a turnover
of Rs 2.81 crore in 2010-11, which was around 80% more than last financial year
of Rs 1.57 crore. The distributors were felicitated at the hands of Karma Zimpa,
Managing Director, GFPF.
Zimpa informed that GFPF has plans to set up a food processing training centre to
train people and encourage local entrepreneurs in this sector. He added that GFPF
was also going to bring out packaged drinking mineral water very soon.
India and the Netherlands are to cooperate in meat and poultry processing in a big
India has sent a delegation to the Netherlands to the Product Boards Livestock,
Meat and Eggs (PVE), to understand the Dutch processes relating to meat and poultry
processing. The delegation is led by Ajit Kumar, the joint secretary in the ministry
of food processing industries and vice-chairman of National Meat Poultry Processing
The NMPPB, the first-of-its-kind body in the country, has been set up to cater to
the expanding needs of the Indian meat & poultry sector and to ensure that the country
becomes a global leader in production, consumption and export of safe, hygienic
and quality meat products.
The body, as part of its mandate, offers consultancy / technical assistance to the
urban local bodies for upgrading their slaughter houses / abattoirs and improving
the working environment of the meat shops. The Board has a consultancy division
to assist the local bodies in modernisation of abattoirs and assist in preparing
detailed project reports as well as supervision and implementation. It will help
the local bodies to modernise abattoirs.
NMPPB works as a central / national hub to address issues related to meat and poultry
processing sector. It is helping the industry to establish infrastructure for backward
and forward linkages for traceability of meat / poultry processing sector of India.
The Product Boards Livestock, Meat and Eggs (PVE), the Netherlands, has shown its
keen interest in collaborating with NMPPB and have even sent concept programme for
visit to their country. The Dutch agriculture industry features a unique system
of representation. There are private law organisations for each professional group
and vertical public law organisations, the product boards. In the livestock, meat
and egg sectors there are two such organisations: The Product Board Livestock and
Meat (PVV) and the Product Board Poultry and Eggs (PPE).
There is a joint secretariat for the Product Boards Livestock, Meat and Eggs (PVE).
It prepares policy and implements it on behalf of the sector concerned. Examples
of autonomous activities initiated by the PVV: Developing and managing systems for
animal healthcare and quality assurance; The classification and weighing of carcasses;
Encouraging research and innovation; Market development; Providing information on
the production, processing and sale of livestock and, meat; and Executing EU-agricultural
The ministry has approved the following members' visit: Ajit Kumar, Joint Secretary
(MoFPI) / VC, NMPPB - leader of delegation; Dr Kondaiah Napa; Kishor Chand Panda;
Achint Gupta; Ramachandran Sanjeevi Shanmugam, and Dr Rahul Arya.
In an attempt to curb the sale of adulterated food items, the Department of Prevention
of Food Adulteration conducted raids on six wholesalers of pulses and spices in
the Walled City area falling under the Lahori Gate police station on Tuesday.
Following the raids, Delhi Health Minister A.K. Walia said the Department of PFA
is now concentrating on traders involved in adulteration across Delhi. “We want
to eliminate adulteration in food items which affects the health of common people,”
The Department inspectors carried out the raid along with the Delhi Police and SDMs
of Kotwali and Sadar Bazar. The joint team swung into action this morning and lifted
samples of whole black pepper, loose turmeric powder and Masoor pulse. The samples
were sent to a laboratory for urgent testing as per the prescribed techniques.
Dr. Walia has instructed the PFA Department to submit the results of the test at
the earliest and to take appropriate action against the adulterators. “The guilty
will not be spared and will be booked under existing Act,” he said, adding that
such raids would be carried out in future.
The government has decided to set up an expert panel headed by Planning Commission
member Abhijit Sen to look into the immense wastage of food in the country and explore
solutions by way of building silos for storage of foodgrains in the country.
A comprehensive study on the economics and logistical feasibility of building sufficient
modern silos for foodgrain storage in the country under the PPP model will be taken
up by the panel.
The decision was taken following severe criticism of the FCI (Food Corporation of
India) for wastage of food due to lack of logistics and scientific storage in the
The sorry state of foodgrains worth crores rotting in the FCI godowns was admitted
by Sharad Pawar in Parliament last year, during his term as the minister of consumer
affairs, food and public distribution.
However, the FCI has reported that rotting and wastage has reduced to 0.015% of
total grain offtake in 2010-11 from 0.02% of the total grain offtake in 2009-10.
1. But, the ongoing Rabi marketing season (RMS) is expected to intensify pressure
on existing storage faciltiies with the FCI and states, requiring the agency to
push out its massive stocks of older grain with urgency into welfare and subsidised
grain sale schemes such as the OMSS (Open Market Sale Scheme) or risk big losses
on its economic costs for grain buys and storage.
According to an ET report, the FCI remains clueless whether, and how much, its storage
needs could go up exponentially on account of the Centre's policy, including the
food security law. Also, the national food law is still not in a state of clarity
and the pertinent question of grain delivery through the PDS versus cash transfer,
indicates the indecisiveness of the Centre in many inter-related aspects, storage
space for foodgrains being one of them.
To tackle the situation, the plan panel study, would work out an average annual
storage level for the country, except for the north-eastern states based on the
public-private partnership (PPP) model inclusive of a 10-year usage guarantee from
The panel's brief includes a cost comparison of silo storage with conventional storage
facilities in terms of grain holding, identifying key regions in the country where
the silo advantage can and should be put up for optimum grain storage and movement
advantage as well as the modus for the tendering process for the public-private
partnership (PPP) projects. Although no time-frame has yet been spelt out for the
submission of its recommendations, it is understood that international consultants
Mott Mac Donald have been hired at a cost of around Rs 20 lakh to advise the panel
on the advantages of using silos for scientific grain storage.
Chennai-based International Herbal Water Foundation has written to P I Suvrathan,
chairman, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, explaining that the flavoured
water industry is facing a hazardous time, particularly in the south, due to the
absence of an official standard. This is leading to the flavoured water drink being
misunderstood as packaged drinking water.
"We, at the flavoured water industry, are facing pin pricks at the hands of implementing
officials due to the absence of official standard for flavoured water," said the
The above is due to misunderstanding of the definition of "Packaged Drinking Water,"
as defined under rule 49 (28) of the PFA Rules, 1955, which states as follows -
"No person shall manufacture, sell or exhibit for sale Packaged Drinking Water except
under the Bureau of Indian Standards Certification Mark."
As per the above rule, it is only the "Packaged Drinking Water" which has to be
manufactured and sold under BIS mandatory certification mark and flavoured water
does not fall under purview.
Item A.33 of the Appendix B of PFA Rules, provides the legal standards / definition
of Packaged Drinking Water. This definition does not allow the use of any additives
including flavouring substances etc in Packaged Drinking Water. It only allows certain
treatments like decantation, filtration, etc.
In view of above the foundation claims that, "Flavoured Water Drink" is not Packaged
Drinking Water as defined under the PFA Rules since it contains an additive - Flavouring
substance, hence, there is no obligation to have a mandatory BIS certification for
"Flavoured Water Drink." This is also corroborated and confirmed by the BIS.
Further, Rule 37 (A) of PFA Rules on the manufacturing of Proprietary Foods, define
proprietary food as, "A food which has not been standardised under the Prevention
of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955."
Hence, the Foundation has claimed that the packages containing "Flavoured Water
Drink" was a proprietary food (non-standardised product) and was duly labelled as
such, hence it followed that it did not have an obligation to manufacture and sell
it under BIS Certification.
In an earlier letter written to the FSSAI, Navill Motha, president of IHWF, said,
"Every day the member investment is losing lakhs of rupees and their market share
due to sudden close of factory by local Implementing authority and district collector."
Though flavoured water did not come under certification of the BIS, the food inspectors
insisted its members to obtain the BIS certification.
Thus the Foundation asked the Authority to stop the unwarranted closures of the
water processing units without BIS Certification.
In response to the above, the FSSAI convened a meeting of the expert committee to
address the issues surrounding the flavoured industry recently, whereby it was decided
that instead of drafting separate regulation, the existing provision under PFA needs
to be considered for arriving at appropriate decision.
An agenda with relevant documents / Codex standards will be prepared and placed
in next meeting of Scientific Panel on food additives, flavourings.
In an attempt to address various issues on water standards for different categories
of water in the country, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India called
for a meeting of experts, under the chairmanship of P I Suvrathan, chairperson,
FSSA1 (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) on March 18, 2011, at PDA Bhawan,
The industry was also invited to present its views on different issues through presentations
The FSSAI discussed three important areas in water which could have a major impact
on the food and beverage industry -- setting up of standards for potable water /
water as an ingredient of food, reviewing standards of Packaged Drinking Water (PDW)
and setting up of standards for flavoured water.
After detailed deliberation on the issues indicated above, it was decided that the
scientific panel for contaminants might study the revised BIS standards on potable
water and recommend the minimum acceptable standards of potable water to be notified
by the Food Authority. For this purpose, the FSSAI secretariat may prepare draft
standards for potable water on the basis of the revised standards of potable water
(IS:10S00) keeping in view of the WHO's recommendation in this regard.
The issue of colour-tinted bottles for packaged drinking water was also discussed
in the meeting. In this regard, it was decided that the scientific panel may examine
the issues surrounding the packaged drinking water and mineral water including issue
of colour of bottle and recommend suitable standards.
The Central Committee for Food Standards (CCFS) recommendation, to allow 33% of
coloured resin for making container for bulk packing of packaged drinking water
and mineral water subject to the condition that the transparency of such containers
should be above 96%, was also noted by the members and it was opined that the issue
needs further evaluation by Scientific Panel / Scientific Committee. Detailed dossier
will be prepared within a month for consideration by scientific panel.
With regard to flavoured drinking water, instead of drafting separate regulation,
the Authority opined that existing provision under the PFA needed to be considered
for arriving at appropriate decision. An agenda with relevant documents / Codex
standards will be prepared and placed in next meeting of scientific panel on food
In a comment that emerged it was noted that under the PFA in rule 47, sub rule (1)
(a) the term "Non-carbonated water based-beverages (non-alcoholic)" existed. Flavoured
water can be brought under this category and relevant requirements may be incorporated
in the new regulations.
The safety of natural / artificial extracts or flavours used in flavoured water
needed to be verified on the basis of toxicological / risk assessment study. There
was a need to have a quick look at the international standards and similar standards
on flavoured water should be considered by the Food Authority for domestic standards.
Another comment that emerged was that flavoured water standards could not be compounded
with packaged drinking water and that thorough assessment was required to be made
with regard to TDS, pH, pesticide residues, levels of heavy metals such as arsenic,
lead, cyanide, chromium, and so on.
The Authority further said that data should be obtained regarding the licensed /
unlicensed Packaged Drinking Water units operating in the states before a view is
taken regarding surveillance of water quality in the states. The state governments
had already been advised to keep a watch on unauthorised units and this might be
BIS agreed that they would provide the Food Authority the data pertaining to the
number of licensees of packaged drinking water and also the approximate number outside
this licensing system.
Suvrathan sought clarification from BIS with regard to the large number of complaints,
in the implementation of Quality Control Order of PFA and the large number of illegal
bottled water manufacturing units which were outside the purview of BIS.
BIS, in their reply, clarified that the major problem is related to manufacture
and supply of packaged drinking water or packaged mineral water without BIS standard
mark. Action for such irregularities lies under the PFA Rules.
BIS has no power to take any action under PFA Rules. Enforcement of the PFA Rules
lies with the state government or FSSAI. Further BIS is empowered to take action
under BIS Act for misuse of its Standard Mark which may consist of its usage without
the BIS licence or for the products not conforming to the relevant BIS Standards.
BIS has been taking the prescribed action for irregularities in respect of misuse
of the Standard Mark. Also, as per the Act by which BIS was formed, BIS has been
given the sole mandate to carry out certification activity and license to BIS mark
In order to record complete data on nutrient and non-nutrient raw, processed and
cooked foods from pearl millet (bajra), the M S University, Vadodara, has picked
up a project to study dietary intake and nutritional status of women and children
"Banaskantha, which is known as the pearl millet (bajra) belt of Gujarat, unfortunately
does not possess any data on the study of bajra crop, which is widely grown and
consumed in this region," Vanisha Nambiar, principal investigator, Department of
Food and Nutrition, MSU, told FnB News.
As per the season and crop report of 2007-08 of Gujarat government, Banaskantha,
which is one of the 25 administrative districts of Gujarat, has 26.61 per cent of
its area under pearl millet (bajra) and 11.7 per cent of wheat. However it has been
observed that this crop, which is relatively high in nutritional values, can be
an important dietary source for rural and tribal areas.
Nambiar explained that the research work had started last August and they found
around 31 varieties of bajra and six additional recipes prepared from it in Banaskantha
until now, wherein, 30 villages would be selected using cluster sampling technique.
According to the project concept by the MSU team, the study is divided into four
phases. The Phase-1 includes collecting information on seasonal patterns and time
trends in millet production and consumption whereby the detailed information obtained
form government reports, agricultural colleges, libraries and Internet will be presented
An interactive 24-hour dietary recall survey will be conducted in the second phase
to assess the importance of pearl millet and other foods of essential nutrients
among women of child-bearing age (15-45 years) and children under 5 years.
In the third phase of study, the details of food prepared from bajra would be then
be taken for analysis of iron, zinc, and phytate and polyphenol retention through
The study would be complete when biochemical profile levels of a subsample of nearly
300-350 women would be conducted to assess the relationship between production,
consumption patterns and hematogical indices in the last phase.
Nambiar stated that the entire report would be submitted to the state government
for necessary changes in the mid-day meal scheme, while the mid-term results of
the research project would be declared on April 19, 2011, at Sardarkrushinagar Agriculture
India's livestock industry will soon have to restrict the amount of antibiotics
used for seafood including prawns and other variety of fish, in the wake of the
soon to be announced National Policy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance.
The policy, formulated under the chairmanship of Dr R K Srivastava, directorate-general
of health services, ministry of health & family welfare, was finalised in January
"A comprehensive policy has been formulated and we are satisfied about how it has
been developed. It is now awaiting union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad's approval
and also the budgetary implication and other financial constraints are being looked
at," confirmed Dr Chand Wattal, chairperson, clinical microbiology, Sir Ganga Ram
Hospital, New Delhi, who is also a member of the task force formed to implement
The policy prohibits the use of antibiotics and other pharmacologically active substances
like all Nitrofurans, Chloramphenicol, Neomycin, Nalidixic Acid, Sulphamethoxazole,
Aristolochia spp. and preparations thereof, Chloroform, Chlorpromazine, Colchicine,
Dapsone, Dimetridazole, Metronidazole, Ronidazole, Ipronidazole, other Nitroimidazoles,
Clenbuterol, Diethylstilbistrol, Sulphonamide drugs, Fluoroquinolones and Glycopeptides
in any unit processing seafood including shrimps, prawns or any other variety of
fish and fishery products.
Antibiotics are used by farmers to prevent infection in fish or poultry. These are
used widely in food animals as growth promoters and for prevention and treatment
of infections. Non-therapeutic usage of antibiotics has been especially common in
poultry production. Poultry is fattened and fish are made bigger by pumping antibiotics
and hormones for better price. However, currently there is no regulation regarding
the use of antibiotics in livestock, except for some provision made in the Prevention
of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955, curbing excessive use of antibiotics.
Towards the formulation of the new policy, the dangerous prospects of such fish
or meat entering the food chain and leading to the emergence of antibiotic resistance
in humans who eat it were considered.
In the task force created, an official from the animal husbandry department was
co-opted for providing inputs on the use of antimicrobials in veterinary sector.
Other members from the field of veterinary were on board, confirmed Dr Wattal. As
part of the action plan, an inter-sectoral coordination committee comprising experts
from Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Health and
Family Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture (Indian Council for Agricultural Research)
and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Agricultural and Processed
Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Marine Products Export Development
Authority (MPEDA) and Drug Controller General of India (Member Secretary) will be
formed and assigned specific tasks.
The committee would undertake activities like reviewing available data regarding
the use of antimicrobials, generating data by undertaking studies on the use of
antimicrobials as animal growth-promoters (AGPs), specifying antibiotics for use
in livestock, and reviewing current laws on the use of AGPs in other countries and
feasibility of their implementation in India.
It will mainly look at the development of regulations on usage of antimicrobials
in poultry and other animals as well as the requisite labelling requirements in
food and other related issue.
One important task for the committee would be the revision of PFA Rules 1995-part
XVIII: Antibiotic and other pharmacologically active substances, if required, to
enhance the scope for inclusion of other food products and antimicrobials.
Currently, the PFA limited the amount of antibiotics for seafood including shrimps,
prawns or any other variety of fish and fishery products and set a prescribed tolerance
limit (mg/Kg[ppm]) as:
a. Tetracycline (0.1)
b. Oxytetracycline (0.1)
c. Trimethoprim (0.05)
d. Oxolinic acid (0.3)
Thus the new policy on antibiotics will be a step forward and give a reference point
to regulating the use and misuse of antibiotics in the country. On the whole, the
policy proposes to create control mechanisms like national surveillance system for
antibiotic resistance, mechanism of monitoring prescription audits, regulatory provision
for monitoring use of antibiotics in human, veterinary and industrial sectors and
identification of specific intervention measures for rational use of antibiotics.
Directors of 17 regional cancer centres in the country have written to Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh, urging him to bring in a ban on smokeless tobacco products, including
gutka and pan masala. India has the highest number of oral cancer patients in the
According to a press release issued by the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute
(CNCI) here, one of those to have written to Dr. Singh, between 75,000 to 80,000
new cases of oral cancer are reported every year, a figure to which tobacco-chewing
contributes 90 per cent.
“The easy availability of this mixture of toxic substances, including the areca
nut (supari), slaked lime and certain food additives, in small affordable pouches
in every nook and corner of the country has become a serious health hazard,” the
release said. Different combinations of the product — mawa, khaini, gudakhu and
panni — were available in different regions.
CNCI director Jaydip Biswas said the tobacco industry had been targeting the youth
by selling tobacco products outside schools and colleges, distributing free samples
and getting endorsements from film stars.
He said more than 1,000 new cases of patients suffering oropharyngeal cancer — many
caused by chewing gutka — were reported at the institute annually, and the number
of users showed an upward trend.
MYSORE: Stress-relieving biscuits and anti-fatigue food bars will soon appear on
more supermarket shelves as scientists at the Mysore-based Defence Food Research
Laboratory (DFRL) commercialise food technology created for the armed forces. Their
goal is to make convenience foods better than what nature has to offer.
From memory enhancing chocolates to performance enhancement foods, the laboratory
is employing a small army of food scientists to help make the next generation of
foods healthier and tastier, with a more understandable ingredient list.
"The food habits of people are changing fast. Working couples have less time to
cook," says Dr A S Bawa, director of DFRL, one of the laboratories of the Defence
Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).
So the laboratory which caters to the varied food challenges for the Indian Armed
Forces is now bringing these hi-tech foods to the wider market, by transferring
technologies to entrepreneurs.
"One high energy chocolate bar can help a human being survive for days without food,"
says Bawa whose laboratory resembles a kitchen. Carefully labeled jars hold freeze-dried
mangoes, dehydrated vegetables, curries and fresh salt. Interspersed within are
glass beakers, large syringes, digital thermometers, food testing kits and bio-reactors
used to test and certify the food.
During the Kargil War, DFRL supplied tonnes of food packets to provide sustained
nutrition and control hunger. "These are foods designed to keep a person alert even
during stressful situations such as war, tsunami and earthquakes," says H V Batra,
associate director, DFRL.
The Lab has already completed over 550 technology transfers to nearly 220 entrepreneurs,
who have built businesses on them. "The technical know-how has been transferred
to leading food manufacturers such as MTR Foods, lTC Ltd, and companies such as
ADF Foods apart from many entrepreneurs," says A D Semwal, scientist at DFRL. The
institute is now setting up an incubation centre in Kerala to speed up the process
of commercialising these technologies.
One of the early adopter of these technologies is Mumbai-headquartered ADF Foods.
The company which owns brands like Ashoka, Camel, Aeroplane, Khansaama and Truly
Indian has acquired a packaging sterilisation method from DFRL. Prior to this it
used to pack ready-to-eat products in cans. "Acquiring this technology has helped
us enter the packaging sector with easier to heat, non-messy packs of ready-to-eat
products," says Sapna Nair, the Quality Assurance Executive at ADF which exports
ready-to-eat foods to markets such as USA, UK, Australia and Middle East.
The technology transfer has also helped Bangalore-based MTR Foods emerge as one
of leading processed food makers. The firm, acquired by Norwegian food-to-metals
group Orkla, sells ready to eat authentic Indian meals like curries, rice meals
and soups across the country. "Ready to Eat is relatively a new category in India.
We expect this to become an important category," said an MTR spokesperson.
Pune-based ready-to-serve food maker Tasty Bite Eatables Ltd is also one of the
early recipients of the technology transfer. "They played a path-breaking role of
providing the technologies to the companies. Now private sector has moved up the
value chain and is using more advanced technologies," says Ravi Nigam, managing
director of Tasty Bite and promoter of its parent company Preferred Brands International.
The range of foods includes staples such as chapattis, parathas, chicken biriyani
to curries and protein rich egg biscuits, cut fruits and juices. Apart from the
convenience these foods are also designed to have a shelf life of more than one
DFRL has also developed more sophisticated packaging technology. These foods are
packed in therm-o-packs, which are chemical-based self heating systems and do not
need an outside heat source. It is activated on opening and rubbing the food packet.
The food can be repacked back and it remains warm for a long time. "The system is
designed in such a way that there is no direct contact between the chemical heater
and the food pack at any point of time," explains K Jayathilakan, scientist at DFRL.
Some institutes such as Indian School of Business (ISB) have also realised the commercialisation
potential of the technologies that are being developed at various research labs
in the country.
We are maintaining the quality as prescribed by BIS: Jal Board The Delhi Jal Board
on Thursday asserted that the water it supplies for drinking in the city is safe.
Reacting to a report in Lancet that a “superbug” has been found in samples taken
from across the city, the DJB said it ensures that water meant for potable uses
is safe and as per the norms laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
“The water that we supply is safe. We conform to the BIS standards and even get
an independent agency, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute
(NEERI), to run tests for ascertaining its safety,” said Ramesh Negi, the Chief
Executive Officer of the Jal Board.
Responding to the findings of the report, Mr. Negi said: “It is a gene that mutates
the coliform bacteria and makes it resistant to antibiotics. The report itself says
the bacteria cannot sustain in chlorinated water and we supply water that is treated
While Mr. Negi acknowledged that the BIS standards of testing that are being followed
cannot detect the presence of the New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM) 1 gene,
which makes coliform bacteria resistant, he was quick to add that its presence has
been limited to water found in the open and not in the piped supply.
“They lifted 177 samples from seepages and 50 from taps, and the gene was found
in 51 of the 177 samples and just 2 of the tap samples. Our concern is about the
two samples that were taken from Ramesh Nagar and South of the Red Fort. We are
maintaining the quality of water as prescribed by the BIS, which permits 10 coliform
for 100 ml water and we are will within that limit,” Mr. Negi said.
The DJB CEO said the seepage samples that tested positive for the NDM-1 gene were
collected close to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Gole Market and other sites. “Even in
countries like Spain, Canada and Australia this gene is found mostly near hospitals.
We are, however, taking precautions to ensure that the contamination is the least.
We get about 50-60 complaints regarding contamination and water quality everyday
and we immediately get down to isolating the areas and running a check.”
Pointing out that a lot of contaminations cases are a result of poor condition of
the service pipelines, the DJB has urged consumers to change their service pipelines
after 15 years. “Taking cognisance of the reluctance on the part of consumers to
check their pipelines, we have decided that along with 5 lakh meters that we will
change over the next two years, we will also change the service pipes of consumers
by charging them for it,” Mr. Negi said.
The DJB will also carry out the mapping of vulnerable areas with regard to contamination.
“The most vulnerable areas are the 550 unauthorised colonies where there is water
supply but no sewer system. Also, we are urging consumers not to use boosters, because
online boosters tend to suck filth, especially if the pipes are corroded and there
is a sewer close by,” the CEO said.
On the claims made by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi about the poor quality
of water supplied in its schools, the CEO said: “They have never written to us…we
are ready for a joint sampling.”
NEW DELHI: India will not ban food imports from Japan immediately as no item has
yet tested positive for radioactive contamination. All food imports, however, will
now need mandatory 'no-radiation' certification from the Japanese authorities and
also face radiation checks once they enter India.
An inter-ministerial meeting chaired by commerce minister Anand Sharma on Thursday
decided that there was not enough reason to impose a blanket ban on food imports
at the moment but gave directions for weekly reviews, a commerce department official
Officials from the health ministry, the ministry of external affairs, the department
of atomic energy, the directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) and the food safety
and standards authority of India (FSSAI) attended the meeting.
"It has been decided that 100% of food imports, irrespective of the region it comes
from, have to go through radiation checks in the country and need certification
of no-radiation at departure," the official said.
The FSSAI, the country's food safety and standards authority of India, on Tuesday
had given an advisory stating that there should be a three months ban on food items
The advise followed decision by a number of countries including the US, China, Australia,
Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Canada to ban food imports from areas
around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant affected by the earthquake and the tsunami
that hit the country last month.
"We are wholly aware of the threat aspect and would ensure that no harmful imports
happen. But at the same time we do not want to have a knee-jerk reaction to the
problem," the official said. The FSSAI had already identified laboratories for testing
samples of imported food items.
These include Board of Radiation & Isotope Technology in the Bhabha Atomic Research
Centre, Shriram Institute for Industrial Research, New Delhi, and Monarch Biotech,
Chennai, in this regard.
"As soon as we get information of contaminated products coming in, we will indeed
give ban orders," the official said. The directorate general of foreign trade notifies
all decisions on imports and exports including imposition of bans.
India's imports of food items from Japan is a very small part of total annual imports
of about $7 billion from the country. The key food items imported from Japan in
the past few months, though in small quantities, are soybean curd, dried noodles,
boiled mushrooms, radish paste, cooking sauces, roasted seaweed, flavoring extracts,
tea bags, wheat flour, yakult, food additives and tofu.
Contrary to the earlier recommendation to include smokeless tobacco in the food
category, delegates of a National Consultation on Smokeless Tobacco held in New
Delhi on Monday and Tuesday, sought a progressive ban on smokeless tobacco products
in the country. The delegates urged the government to move in the said direction,
this was revealed to Fnb News in an exclusive chat over the phone.
The recommendation was made to the Government of India at the end of the two-day
consultation organised by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in association
with Public Health Foundation of India and the WHO (World Health Organisation) at
Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.
As said earlier, the recommendation is in sharp contrast to the earlier suggestion
by union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to the Food Safety and Standards Authority
of India (FSSAI) for considering the inclusion of smokeless tobacco in the food
category (FnB report dated March 26, 2011).
This newspaper had then pointed at the likely repercussions of the initiative, such
as problems in regulating taxes for tobacco with respect to food, and rules dictating
manufacture and sale of tobacco which could easily be chucked by the manufacturers
and retailers if tobacco was passed on as food.
As for the two-day consultation, it reviewed the country's preparedness on upscaling
cessation efforts in the country and activities around providing alternate livelihood
options for people employed in the manufacturing sector of smokeless tobacco. Along
with imposing a complete prohibition on such products, the experts emphasised on
the need to use a multi-pronged approach, including high taxation on smokeless tobacco
products and strengthening the infrastructure for delivering effective cessation
services across the country
Chairing the concluding session, B K Prasad, joint secretary, MoHFW, pointed out
that if the Apex Court ordered a ban, the government would surely work in that direction
and put processes in place to implement such a ban. The government was going to
conduct a disease survey under Non-Communicable Disease programmes all over the
country targeting youth and adults. Under the programme, these groups will be screened
for tobacco use pattern, reflecting the urgent need to be integrated into India's
tobacco control framework. As tobacco is a major cash crop, the issue of alternative
cropping needs to be mitigated. Prasad said that the political will for tobacco
control measures was also growing, and it would assist the government in implementing
the programmes in a comprehensive manner.
Dr K Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation, in his concluding remarks
said, "We should not be discouraged if 'ban' does not come immediately. We need
to employ a multi-component strategy to tackle smokeless tobacco situation in the
country. We need to utilise each opportunity that comes our way and prepare for
a progressive ban on smokeless tobacco products in India."
A 58-year-old man, who was admitted to a hospital after consuming adulterated “kuttu
atta”, died on Wednesday even as the police arrested 17 people in a crackdown on
shopkeepers allegedly selling it. Eight people are still under treatment in various
Prabhu Lal, a resident of Trilokpuri, was admitted to Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital
here on Tuesday after he complained of uneasiness after consuming “kuttu atta” and
died on Wednesday morning. A case has been registered at Kalyanpuri police station.
However, Deputy Medical Superintendent (LBS Hospital) Amita Saxena said the death
was in no way related to consuming of adulterated “kuttu atta”. “Prabhu Lal was
already under treatment for heart disease and hypertension. He died because of pre-existing
medical disorder. He probably got alarmed on seeing so many people being taken ill
on consuming adulterated flour and felt uneasy. It was just co-incidental,” said
Delhi Health Minister A.K. Walia said post-mortem would be conducted on Prabhu Lal
to ascertain the cause of death.
Meanwhile, the North-East Delhi and the East Delhi police have registered 14 separate
cases and arrested 17 shopkeepers from different parts of the Capital.
Over 150 people were admitted to various government and private hospitals in East
and North-East Delhi on Tuesday and treated for food poisoning after they consumed
District Food Safety Officers in Haryana have been directed to seize samples of
kuttoo atta and other such food items being used by people during the Navratra fast
in view of reports of sale of contaminated atta at various places.
There were reports in the media that several people had fallen sick after consuming
Haryana Food and Drug Administration Commissioner P.K. Das said 32 samples of the
flour had so far been taken from different places in the State, including Hisar,
Rohtak, Ambala and Faridabad
Research done on lambs shows a link between maternal and offspring obesity and is
the first demonstration that this is the case in mammals bearing ‘mature offspring'
— as humans do.
The government set its first radiation safety standards for fish Tuesday after Japan's
tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant reported radioactive contamination in nearby seawater
measuring at several million times the legal limit.
The plant operator insisted that the radiation will rapidly disperse and that it
poses no immediate danger, but an expert said exposure to the highly concentrated
levels near the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant could cause immediate injury and that the
leaks could result in residual contamination of the sea in the area.
The new levels coupled with reports that radiation was building up in fish led the
government to create an acceptable radiation standard for fish for the first time.
Some fish caught Friday off Japan's coastal waters would have exceeded the new provisional
Tuesday, TEPCO announced that samples taken from seawater near one of the reactors
contained 7.5 million times the legal limit for radioactive iodine on April 2. Two
days later, that figure dropped to 5 million.
Experts agree that radiation dissipates quickly in the vast Pacific, but direct
exposure to the most contaminated water measured would lead to “immediate injury,”
said Yoichi Enokida, a professor of materials science at Nagoya University's graduate
school of engineering.
He added that seawater may be diluting the iodine, which decays quickly, but the
leak also contains long-lasting caesium-137. Both can build up in fish, though iodine's
short half-life means it does not stay there for very long. The long-term effects
of caesium, however, will need to be studied, he said.
The move came after the health ministry reported that fish caught off Ibaraki prefecture,
which is about halfway between the plant and Tokyo, contained levels of radioactive
iodine that would have exceeded the new provisional limit.
Caesium also was found, at just below the limit. The fish were caught Friday, before
the new provisional safety limits were announced.
Such limits are usually very conservative. After spinach and milk tested at levels
far exceeding the safety standard, health experts said you would have to eat enormous
quantities of tainted produce or dairy before getting even the amount of radiation
contained in a CT scan.
Except oxygen and water, all other essential chemicals, such as carbohydrates, proteins,
fats, minerals, vitamins, etc, are taken in by us through diet for our survival
The raw materials such as rice, pulses, fats etc are in such chemical architecture
that we cannot assimilate. That is why, by cooking process, they are chemically
converted into smaller molecules that can further be managed by our digestive system,
from mouth to intestines, through a series of enzymatic processes (mostly hydrolysis).
Long chain carbohydrates are converted into oligosaccharides, long chain proteins
in meat, egg or pulses into shorter protein chains and oils into micellar globules
If the cooked food is left out for a while, a host of microorganisms invade the
food stuff and work on the molecules in their own physiological ways because the
cooked food stuff is now in a bio-manageable molecular status.
These microorganisms leave their own chemical signature on the food stuffs over
time. If such a type of food is reheated, not only are the useful remains are warmed
or further hydrolyzed but the microorganisms themselves and the chemicals they have
excreted are also heated and chemically processed.
These alien chemical and biological entities are likely to generate poisonous molecules
upon reheating. Similarly, food stuffs, left for long, are also likely to be contaminated
by the invisible microorganisms along with their excreta during their regime on
this food. Thus, a leftover/preserved food is also a source of possible poisonous
It is, hence, said that eating reheated cooked food and taking left over/preserved
food are not good for health.
Almost a month after Japan was devastated by a high-intensity earthquake, followed
by radiation from nuclear reactors, the government has banned import of food articles
from that country with immediate effect.
The ban will be in place for at least three months, according to an advisory issued
by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), under the health and
family welfare ministry.
“Import of food articles coming from Japan stand suspended with immediate effect
for a period of three months or till such time as credible information is available
that the radiation hazard has subsided to acceptable limits,” the FSSAI order said
today. The authority will carry out weekly reviews to assess the situation.
On Monday, FSSAI had called a meeting on food imports from Japan in view of the
radioactive incidents at the nuclear power plants. Experts attending the meeting
came to the conclusion that “since the radiation was spreading/expanding horizontally
in other parts of Japan, it may result in further radioactive contamination in the
supply chain of food exports from Japan.” Nuclear-contaminated food can cause cancer
and other diseases, according to experts.
The meeting, headed by FSSAI Chairperson P I Suvrathan, was attended by representatives
from the Board of Radiation & Isotope Technology, Bhabha Atomic Research Institute,
Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Central
Board of Excise & Customs and Shriram Institute for Industrial Research.
Among the products that India imports from Japan include dairy items, coffee, tea,
vegetables and honey. But the quantity of import of food items from Japan is not
The US, Canada, China, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore have already suspended
import of food products from Japan.
Immediately after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, FSSAI had issued an advisory
citing concerns of possible radiation leakage from affected nuclear plants. “There’s
need to increase surveillance of food imports from Japan to ensure they are safe
for consumption,” the authority had said on March 15, four days after the quake
in Japan. It had notified a laboratory to test for nuclear contamination of food
items, mainly seafood, fruits, vegetables and meat.
A few days later, FSSAI came out with another advisory, authorising two more labs
for monitoring food imports from Japan to check radioactive contamination
Next time you go out to buy grocery or fruits and vegetables, do carry a jute or
cloth bag with you. Delhi Cabinet on Monday approved a blanket ban on manufacture,
sale, storage and usage of plastic bags. This means absolutely no plastic bags.
Though the ban has been in place for the past two years, it wasn't enforced effectively.
With the government's renewed will to impose a blanket ban, senior Delhi government
officials said the Capital will become a 'plastic free state'.
"The civic agencies and Delhi Police have been instructed to strictly enforce the
ban," chief minister Sheila Dikshit said.
The government was reluctant to enforce the ban and sat on a high court order for
close to five months before it was forced to implement it. The court had ordered
the Delhi government to ban plastic bags in August 2008. But it implemented the
ban only in January 2009 after the petitioner of the PIL threatened to move contempt
of court motion against officials.
Even after banning it, enforcement was just a token gesture with a handful of token
enforcement drives at marketplaces against using plastic bags. Of late, however,
the environment department has swung into action, directing all civic agencies to
raid retail and wholesale markets.
Violators can be fined from Rs 10,000 to R1 lakh under the Environment (Protection)
Officials said there were hundreds of units manufacturing plastic bags and they
would be closed after a notification is issued.
"We will try our best to implement the Cabinet decision. We want Delhi to be plastic
free," Delhi chief secretary PK Tripathi said.
NEW DELHI :It comes in small pouches, is easy to slip into the pocket and cheap
- and also a killer. Chewing tobacco, or gutkha, is a known cause of oral cancer
in India which has the largest recorded incidence of the disease. The government
is now seriously planning to crack down on chewing tobacco use.
The health ministry is planning measures to curb the use of chewing tobacco - the
most widespread form of tobacco use in India and will soon call a meeting of state
ministers to discuss the issue of "smokeless tobacco" , an official said Monday.
Talking to reporters after a meeting on chewing tobacco, gutka, paan masala etc.
- the health ministry's Additional Secretary Keshav Desiraju said that consultations
will be carried out to formulate policies to inform the people on the ill-effects
"Most of our work so far has focused on smoking. The users of smokeless tobacco
are usually from the weakest sections of the society, and different approach is
needed to reach them," he said. "We will discuss it with all state governments .
Smokeless tobacco is being increasingly used in university campuses and urban areas,"
he said. India has the world's highest incidence of mouth cancer in the world according
to a study by the British Journal of Cancer. "The risk of oral cancer is up to 50
times greater for the person who chews tobacco. It also increases the risk of throat
and pharynx cancer," the European Commission has said.
According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey , 206 million people chew tobacco in India
and of these 42.3 percent are also cigarette users. According to Public Health Foundation
of India president K. Srinath Reddy, the use of smokeless tobacco is increasing
among youth and women. "There is a social stigma related to use of cigarettes by
women and youth, so they find it convenient to use smokeless tobacco . It also comes
in small pouches, which can be easily hidden. Being economic is the factor which
makes it popular among the economically weaker sections," Reddy said.
According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey , out of 35% adults using tobacco in India
, 26% adults use chewing tobacco in some form or another. Studies have shown that
12.5% of all teenagers use tobacco in some form or another. It has been found responsible
for 50 percent of all cancers in men and 25% of all cancers in women, besides being
responsible for 90% of all oral cancers, according to a study by the Indian Council
of Medical Research (ICMR).
ALLAHABAD: The trend of fast food consumption among children has left the doctors
in the city worried.
Senior medical officer, community health, Dr Sam Meesum said, "Two to three out
of every 100 children are suffering from obesity and allied problems. Though the
number of children suffering from such diseases is not much, but there is an urgent
need to create awareness regarding the issue."
He also referred to a case, when doctors at Dufferin hospital found the weight of
a one-and-half-year-old child to be 15 kg.
Meesum pointed that fast foods have high level of fats and sugars that are unhealthy
and addictive. High content of trans-fat in commercially available fast foods make
children vulnerable to heart diseases.
Doctors also pointed out that junk foods often contain colors that are inedible,
carcinogenic and harmful to the body. Food coloring may result in hyperactivity
and lapse of concentration in children.
Dr VB Singh says, "Fast food refers to food that can be served ready to eat." The
terms fast food and junk food are often used interchangeably. Most of the junk foods
are fast foods as they are prepared and served fast.
For children skipping breakfast at home, fast food comes handy in school. Dr Meesum,
meanwhile, said that in a study conducted in Hyderabad, children from high socio-economic
status preferred fast foods to traditional foods despite their better nutritional
On ways to reduce fast food craze among children, Meesum said, "Strategies for healthy
food intake include availability of healthy foods, information campaigns and surveillance
of diets and disease burden. Health education and school-based intervention programs,
which can improve the dietary pattern of children."
Here's how to differentiate between good calories and bad calories
First of all, what is a calorie? A non-technical explanation — a calorie is a measure
of the food energy we consume, which is burned, or stored by the body as fat.
So, when you hear about good and bad calorie foods, what does it mean? At a basic
level, there is no such thing as “bad food”. You know what happens if you deep fry
a “good” potato? It turns into “calorie-dense” potato chips.
However, certain foods contribute more calories than nutrients — think cookies and
fast foods such as fries and burgers. Manufacturers process the raw ingredients,
often adding trans-fats to enhance taste and prolong the shelf life of the product.
A high intake of trans-fat can raise low-density cholesterol levels and increase
the risk for cardiovascular disease.
Manufacturers and fast food restaurants are not concerned about your health. Their
job is to cater to your taste buds. Therefore, these foods are viewed as ‘bad' or
harmful when consumed in excess quantities.
A large burger meal with fries and a fizzy drink can contain more than half of your
total daily calorie recommendation!
An occasional burger meal is fine, but you keep it as an occasional treat only.
NEW DELHI: The Centre will decide on Monday whether it must ban some food imports
from earthquake-ravaged Japan, where radiation leaking from a crippled nuclear reactor
has contaminated swathes of farmland.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has called a meeting of
officials from the agriculture, health and commerce ministries to decide whether
there is a need to ban certain food items. Radiation-tainted foods can cause cancer.
Japan has said that leafy vegetables and milk produced in farms in Fukushima and
three other nearby prefectures have been contaminated by radiation leaking from
the Fukushima Dai-chi nuclear complex that was damaged by the earthquake-triggered
tsunami on March 11.
India imports small quantities of dairy products, natural honey, vegetables, coffee
and tea from Japan. Food items are a fraction of the total imports from Japan, bilateral
trade with which was pegged at $10.36 billion in 2009-10.
The FSSAI will also discuss effective monitoring of food imports so that an informed
decision on banning imports can be taken quickly, an official told ET.
The nuclear crisis in Japan has sparked widespread concern over the safety of food
produced there. The US was one first country to ban import of dairy products and
vegetables from Japanese farms contaminated by radiation. This was followed by similar
bans by Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Canada and China.
Last month, the FSSAI identified three laboratories in the country to test samples
for contamination and asked ports and airports to be vigilant on food imports. "We
will have to consider things like the kind of food items being imported from various
regions of Japan, its traceability, the risks involved and the tests necessary to
establish whether there are contaminants,” a member of the FSSAI said.
"There are only certain regions in Japan which have been affected. We will have
to examine how much of the food products could be traced back to those areas and
the kind of tests that have to be carried out on suspected items," the official
Fearing that many countries may restrict its exports, Japan has told the World Trade
Organization (WTO) that it has restricted distribution of agricultural products
potentially affected by radioactive contamination and that other countries should
"We have to take care and ensure that our actions do not affect safe items," the
official said. The free trade agreement signed by India and Japan earlier this year
is expected to push two-way trade to $25 billion by 2014.
The Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) has developed
a new technology called “Low-cost nutritious meat and poultry product technology”
that addresses the problem of high cost of meat products.
“Nutritious and tasty meat products can be developed utilizing locally manufactured
equipment and low-cost formulation with the help of our technology,” said Dr Suresh
Devatkal, senior scientist, livestock products, CIPHET.
“The major cost factors in meat products are the price of raw meat, ingredients
and imported equipment. Hence the cost of production has to be brought down in order
to make these products more affordable and popular among general public. This can
be achieved by careful selection of ingredients, reformulation with unconventional
food ingredients and using locally available equipment,” said Dr Devatkal.
The institute aims to transfer these technologies to small-scale enterprises and
make these enterprises prosperous and viable. It has initiated a new process of
technology transfer to address the enthusiasm of the upcoming entrepreneurs. The
technology is generally licensed at Rs 21,000 per party which includes practical
training for two people on meat processing, equipment-handling, least cost formulations,
further assistance in setting up of unit, and so on confirmed Dr Devatkal.
He added that certain nutrients like dietary fiber which otherwise get lost in meat
production could be retained using CIPHET's technology.
The traditional sale of fresh meat is not very profitable as compared to the sale
of value-added meat products. Value addition through processing of meat into further
processed meat products increases return from meat sale. Value-added products attract
a higher margin and often provide clever and profitable ways to sell meat products
which otherwise fetch low price in the market.
VARANASI: Kachauri-jalebi, samosas, lassi, rabari, thandai -- the list of mouth-watering
food available on the streets of Varanasi is endless. Most office-goers prefer an
economical meal of bati-chokha being sold by vendors on roadside. Even a BHU study
had confirmed that the city loves its street food. Soon, a Food Street offering
local delicacies made in hygienic way and good infrastructure to enjoy the same
would make the experience worth it. Ministry of Food Processing and Industries,
government of India, had taken up the task of developing a `Food Street' in Varanasi
under its scheme for upgradation of quality of street food. The ministry had also
released fund in December, 2008 for the project, but action on it kept getting postponed
for one reason or other.
However, on Thursday, mayor Kaushalendra Singh told TOI, "The preparation of detailed
project report (DPR) is in process, and it is expected that the DPR would be finalised
in a month. The project coasting about Rs five crore, would be developed in areas
like Asi Ghat, Sigra and Sarnath. The basic objective of the project is to give
a boost to street food by training vendors to improve food quality and maintain
cleanliness and hygiene.''
Notably, a study conducted by a Banaras Hindu University (BHU) researcher had revealed
that about 42 per cent of the working men and women in the age group of 25-45 years,
and 61 per cent of the students in the age group of 14-21 years buy food from street
vendors at least once during the lunch hour. The study was conducted to assess the
socio-economic aspects of street foods, nutritive value, safety aspects, and food
habits of people.
A magistrate court in Mumbai, in its recent directive, ordered destruction of cans
of Cloud9, an energy drink brand, worth Rs 20 lakh. The court order came in as the
energy beverage was found to have contained caffeine more than 200 ppm (parts per
million), as against the revised prescribed limit of 145 ppm for carbonated drinks.
Interestingly, the regulations on carbonated drinks have been made a reference point
here as there are no rules framed specifically for energy drinks.
Similarly, when 12 cases against Red Bull, another popular energy beverage brand,
came up for hearing in the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Alibaug, Raigad district,
Maharashtra, the court ordered destruction of the beverage’s cans worth Rs 6.5 crore
approximately as they were found to contain caffeine between 250 and 300 ppm. Once
again the rules on carbonated drinks were referred to for the ruling.
Thus, while there are virtually no rules for energy drinks, manufacture and sale
of these are continuing unabated everywhere in the country, the reason why the authorities
concerned are initiating action against their manufacturers on regular basis. The
above-mentioned two court orders were also the result of a similar exercise initiated
by the Maharashtra Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as it found growing incidences
of addiction to these beverages with high caffeine content, in the youth and student
The FDA action is not a surprise as several studies in recent times have highlighted
the detrimental effects of caffeine. These studies have, in particular, talked about
how these so-called energy drinks that promise to act as energy boosters or dietary
supplements, in fact, contain high levels of caffeine as well as other additives
such as taurine, ginseng and carnitine that act as stimulants. These studies have
identified Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, No Fear, Tab Energy, Wired and Fixx, among
the popular brands that fall under this category.
As mentioned earlier, another alarming fact with regard to energy beverages is that
in India, there are currently no standards for energy drinks under the Prevention
of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. The standards of carbonated water under PFA Rules,
1955, specified the maximum limits of caffeine of 200 ppm, which subsequently on
recommendations by Central Committee on Food Standards were reduced to maximum level
of 145 ppm and notified vide notification GSR 431(E) dated June 19, 2009.
This absence of a proper law for regulating energy beverages and manufacturers taking
advantage of the fact is what made the FDA take action by conducting raids. Interestingly,
while the manufacturers insist on categorising energy drinks as proprietary food
in an attempt to evade laws, the FDA has made it clear that caffeine content exceeding
the limit prescribed for carbonated drinks will not be allowed.
In this regard, though the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI),
the law-making body which is formulating the new Food Safety and Standards Act,
2006, to replace the PFA 1954, is in the process of jotting down rules for these
beverages, inflow of energy drinks with high caffeine continues in the market.
Explains an official from the FDA, “Some companies are following the rule but many
are still found to be flouting the regulation of 145 ppm.” He points out that in
two other raids conducted recently in Mumbai, energy beverages worth Rs 6 lakh and
Rs 31 lakh each were seized and found to have containing caffeine limit exceeding
145 ppm. These indicate that violations have not reduced in spite of the effort
by the FDA to educate manufacturers on limiting this dangerous ingredient.
Meanwhile, the FSSAI admits that a number of brands of energy beverages are available
within the country and they are not regulated. It adds that it has constituted an
Expert Group to recommend the limit of caffeine in energy drinks and non-carbonated
beverages under food regulations and examine the scientific literature and global
position on use of caffeine and non-carbonated beverages and their labelling.
Some of the observations made by the Expert Group:
1) Caffeine is not an additive but a chemical with addictive property. Caffeine
up to 200 ppm is added as a flavouring agent but above 200 ppm it is a functional
ingredient. The functionality of caffeine at 320 ppm needs to be ascertained along
with justification for fixing a cut-off limit at 320 ppm. However, in August 2008,
a study conducted by the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the Royal Adelaide Hospital
in Australia found that energy drinks could increase the risk of strokes and heart
attacks. According to the research, even consuming one can of the caffeinated energy
drink Red Bull could cause the blood to become sticky, increasing the risk of clotting.
2) The second observation was that energy drink was a beverage which was fortified
with vitamins and there was no case for encouraging its consumption. “The name ‘energy
drinks’ is a misnomer as it gives the impression that this should be taken to get
energy,” the group stated.
3) Standards for energy drinks, both carbonated and non-carbonated need to be laid
down to enable better regulation of the product. These may be termed as ‘caffeinated
Where, international rules for caffeine is concerned, the European Commission has
established new rules governing labelling caffeine and quinine in drinks and food
in a bid to protect consumers who may be prone to adverse reactions. According to
the new rules, drinks containing more than 150 mg per litre of caffeine will be
required to label the quantity of caffeine such as “High Caffeine Content” and the
amount of caffeine used in the same field as the name of the product.
Canada, Australia and several European and Latin American countries have also acted
against the caffeinated drinks following reports of deaths and seizures.