Food adulteration causing diseases

February 19, 2020

LAHORE:Adulteration and contamination in food items especially milk, cooking oil/ghee, bottled water, spices, tea, sweeteners and bakery products, milk products, beverages and fruit and vegetable...

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LAHORE:Adulteration and contamination in food items especially milk, cooking oil/ghee, bottled water, spices, tea, sweeteners and bakery products, milk products, beverages and fruit and vegetable products have become a constant threat to the health of residents of the provincial metropolis.

Though Punjab Food Authority (PFA) is vigorously involved in uprooting the adulteration mafia, none of the citizens could dream of having pure and hygienic food in any locality of the City. Sources in PFA claimed that spices, milk and milk products, meat (chicken, beef and mutton), soft drinks and juices stood on top of 10 most adulterated items of the provincial capital. Sources alleged that the volume of food adulteration crimes was very high and was repeatedly done right under the nose of PFA and its vigilance teams. Sources maintained that no city locality was considered free of presence and open sale of adulterated food items.

The volume of the food adulteration can be gauged from the fact that PFA on December 30, 2019 released its annual report which revealed that as many as 5,013 food businesses were closed down and 27,259 food business operators (FBOs) were penalised with hefty fines over violations of the provincial food law. The report claimed that only 4,901 samples of different food companies met the food standards while remaining 3,996 (44.9 per cent) food samples failed laboratory tests. As well as, the PFA Medical Screening Lab had conducted medical screening tests of 58,079 food handlers/workers among them more than 4,000 people were found ill during the year. Out of 58,079 people, 2319 were suffering from typhoid, 836 people had hepatitis C virus (HCV), 690 people were suffering from hepatitis B virus (HBV), 166 people from tuberculosis (TB) and one person from AIDS. One of the PFA’s food analyst, on anonymity revealed that many dangerous chemicals/substances were being used in food adulteration, causing serious diseases to the general public especially to elders and children. He said argemone seeds/argemone oil was mixed in many cooking oils/seeds like sunflower and mustard to increase their quantity and it caused epidemic dropsy, glaucoma and cardiac arrest. Similarly, artificially coloured foreign seeds are used as a substitute to cumin seed, poppy seed and black pepper and they are injurious to health. Foreign leaves or exhausted tea leaves and sawdust are artificially coloured and used in tea, which is injurious to health and may cause cancer. TCP is used in many oils and may cause paralysis while rancid oil is used for cooking is extremely dangerous and contained cancerous properties.

He revealed that sand, marble chips, stones and filth were mixed in food grains, pulses, etc, which can damage digestive tract and causes different kidney diseases as well as kidney failure. He claimed that statistical of Health Department may be obtained, which will reveal a sharp increase in kidney failure cases in youngsters.

Revealing further chemicals, he said lead chromate is mixed in turmeric whole and powdered and mixed spices, which may cause anemia, abortion, paralysis or brain damage. Arsenic is sprayed on fruits such as apples with lead arsenate can cause dizziness, chills, cramps, paralysis and even death. Mercury fungicide treated seed grains or mercury contaminated fish can cause brain damage, paralysis and some times immediate death. Bacillus cereus is mixed in cereal products, custards, puddings and sauces, which may cause food infection (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea). Diethyl stilbestrol is used as an additive in animal feed and when people consume that meat, it may result in sterlites, fibroid tumors, etc. PFA DG Irfan Memon while talking with The News said that majority of the adulterated products were sold at small shops, by roadside vendors and small restaurants and hotels because of their high profit margin. Adulterators are not scared of any legal or punitive action due to the various loopholes in the existing laws. He maintained that majority of adulterators arrested or challaned for the offence easily got bails from courts. Irfan Memon revealed that the PFA was considering proposing the Punjab government make a law under which owners of private property were bound to submit their rent agreements to the authority in case they rented out their properties for any kind of food businesses. He said PFA was doing its best in fight against adulteration but it will also be the responsibility of general public to change their behaviour over adulteration.

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