Food safety needs up­grade

■ Mea­sure­ment of tox­i­c­ity have not been up­graded to stan­dard­ised lev­els

Deccan Chronicle - - City - KANIZA GARARI | DC

The mea­sure of tox­i­c­ity in grains, pulses, milk, veg­eta­bles and foods have not been up­graded to the stan­dard­ised Codex lev­els in prac­tice for In­dian con­sump­tion though they have been put up on paper by the Food Safety and Stan­dard Au­thor­ity of In­dia.

These are ag­gres­sively im­ple­mented for ex­port prod­ucts. The lev­els are be­ing ad­justed ac­cord­ing to height, weight and body com­po­si­tion of In­di­ans.

Iron­i­cally, while the lev­els are low, the pres­ence of toxic el­e­ments is very high when com­pared to the United States of Amer­ica, Europe and even Saudi Ara­bia.

“The reg­u­la­tions have been made strict, but en­force­ment has to be car­ried out by the state gov­ern­ment,” Dr R.B.N. Prasad, chair­man of the sci­en­tific pan­els com­mit­tee of FSSAI, ex­plained.

“In the case of trans fats, the limit for In­dia is 5 per cent and not 2 per cent like in the rest of the world, as it will take time to bring it down to 2 per cent. The rea­sons are many, as the sys­tems in the food in­dus­try have to be up­graded and also aware­ness has to be cre­ated over why only 2 per cent,” Dr Prasad said.

Codex stan­dards have been taken as ex­ported In­dian foods were be­ing re­jected be­cause of pes­ti­cide residue lev­els.

For this rea­son, the stan­dards have been com­pletely up­graded on the in­ter­na­tional scale and now ef­forts are be­ing made to have it im­ple­mented.

A se­nior Food Safety and Stan­dard Au­thor­ity of In­dia of­fi­cial ex­plained, “The crux is more on ex­ported prod­ucts, as they are from the or­gan­ised sec­tor. The ef­fort is on what goes out, but what is within is be­ing tested ran­domly. The apex body was heav­ily crit­i­cised for tox­ins in food. For this rea­son, random food checks are be­ing reg­u­larly car­ried out in whole­sale mar­kets.”

Yet, the per­cent­age of pes­ti­cides at the ground level con­tin­ues be­cause of bad farm prac­tices where the bid is to save crops from in­sects.

Sim­i­larly, en­vi­ron­men­tal tox­ins in wa­ter and en­vi­ron­ment are also be­ing ab­sorbed by the crops and that is lead­ing to heav­ier pres­ence than ever.

Dr Kal­pagam Po­lasa, for­mer di­rec­tor of the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Nu­tri­tion, ex­plained. “Tox­ins are ab­sorbed also dur­ing trans­porta­tion, han­dling, stor­age and de­liv­ery of prod­ucts. These are some of the rea­sons which are not taken into ac­count. Hence, food safety re­quires proper han­dling, which is a ma­jor chal­lenge.”

When com­pared to stan­dards that are set in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, the process of stan­dard­i­s­a­tion has just be­gun and only the or­gan­ised sec­tor is be­ing made aware.

A se­nior food in­spec­tor who was a part of the train­ing pro­gramme held re­cently said, “FSSAI has now set lim­its for ad­di­tives and chem­i­cals, which make their way into food due to pro­cess­ing and han­dling. These are the pre­pared guide­lines and good man­u­fac­tur­ing prac­tices have been given to them. For the or­gan­ised sec­tor to im­ple­ment it, the time is 2022.”

The agri­cul­tural sec­tor is be­ing told to get prod­ucts la­belled as or­ganic, but there is stiff re­sis­tance from var­i­ous farm­ers’ bod­ies. But FSSAI com­mit­tee states that they have to get the la­bel from them only and not any other body, as that is the only way in which best farm prac­tices can be im­ple­mented. This is an up­hill task as the num­bers are very vast and the en­force­ment is not as re­quired.

Dr Su­jatha Stephen, chief nu­tri­tion­ist at Yashoda Hos­pi­tals, ex­plained, “Pes­ti­cides are one of the sus­pects. Un­treated in­dus­trial ef­flu­ents be­ing dumped into rivers and fields are also ma­jor cul­prits. The other grow­ing prob­lem is fumes from au­to­mo­biles, which con­tain lead and man­ganese. These par­ti­cles set­tle on crops, con­tam­i­nat­ing them. There is no proper en­force­ment or aware­ness about these, which is con­stantly show­ing high lev­els in tested sam­ples.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.