Opening a can of worms

Opening a can of worms

Adulterated Food

Opening a can of worms

The recent uncovering of the multi-crore milk adulteration business — accompanied by the seizure of around ten thousand litres of milk rumoured to have been diluted with caustic soda — was shocking.

But many Bangaloreans suspect that the City’s food industry has many more skeletons in its closet. Pre-packaged and processed food are known to have dangerous contents. And fresh products aren’t free of suspicion either. Vegetables, fruits, meat and eggs are only a few items in the list of products masquerading as ‘healthy options’.  In reality, a large quantity of them are coloured, waxed, doused with pesticide and in the case of meat, injected with steroids. Metrolife speaks to a few Bangaloreans to find out whether they trust the food in their kitchens and on their plates, as well as what measures they take to ensure that they avoid the risk of contaminated products.

Pre-packaged food and instant meals have long been suspected of being unhealthy, but it’s only of late that consumers are realising just how much. Srinath, a professional, admits to have emptying his shelves of all such products. “My son, who is in the fourth standard, has been falling sick frequently. I took him to a paediatrician, and had a discussion regarding what could be wrong. I was told that such pre-packaged food can have several repercussions, including the risk of diabetes,” he recollects, adding, “I’ve made sure that we don’t eat any packaged items at home after this — they are a strict no-no. Now that we’ve clearly been advised by a doctor to avoid them, we’re trying to educate my son on the dangers of such foods as well.”

Instant noodles and ready-to-eat meals aren’t the only danger in the kitchen. Naveen, a martial art expert, claims that fresh produce have their own set of problems as well.

“This is something that happens in each and every household. One wants to trust the fruits and vegetables they bring into their homes, but plenty of them are contaminated with wax and colours. Fruits that one doesn’t peel before eating, like apples, are especially worrisome,” he says. 

In an attempt to avoid this risk, he admits to having switched to organic produce. “Many of my relatives and neighbours have done so as well. It’s more expensive, but health will always be my first priority. However, organic farming is done on a very small scale — it can’t cater to a large population,” he adds.

Dr Dayananda, a physician, points out that consuming such foods on a daily basis can lead to a multitude of health disorders. “Preservatives in packaged food and chemicals used to grow produce can actually be hazardous to the physical and mental development of children. In fact, if pregnant women eat too much of such foods, the foetus can be affected as well,” he explains. He adds that other serious issues have been associated with contaminated food.

“In a healthy adult, some of these chemicals can lead to chronic diseases like diabetes, and have been associated with certain types of cancer. Preservatives may also cause allergies,” he concludes.