Dieticians call for stringent guidelines

Dieticians and nutritionists in the City have called for stringent guidelines on nutrition-labelling on ready-to-eat food packets.

The call comes in the wake of reports of excessive lead content found in Maggi noodle packs recently. They said there was a need to mention even the quantity of minerals present in each serving of a food item, besides the ingredients used in it.

Speaking with Deccan Herald, Dr Malathi V, dietician, Manipal Hospitals, said more than the quantity of mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) which was found in Maggi noodles, it was the lead content that was a cause for worry.

According to reports, lead content was found t
o be seven times more than the permissible limit (0.5 to 2ppm) in Maggi noodles. This is not acceptable, she said. “It is important for one to look up for salt and fat content in a pack. Even MSG is a type of salt. Both these in excess could be harmful,” she said.

She said that besides the ingredients added in a food item, it was essential that the food and drug administration bring about stringent norms to have the quantity of minerals present in one serving of a food item also mentioned on the pack.

“Except for iron and calcium, there is no mention of any other mineral on most of the food packs. This has to happen,” Malathi added.

Even as there are no scientific evidences to prove that excessive consumption of MSG could lead to ailments, individual cases and the available literature suggest the same, say doctors.

Dr Asha Benakappa, HoD, paediatrics, Vanivilas Hospital, said, “Like any other salt, which when consumed in excess leads to dizziness and headache, even consumption of mono-sodium glutamate , naturally found in tomato and pumpkin, will lead to discomfort,” she said.

Laws not potent
Dr Priyanka Rahatgi, chief clinical nutritionist, Apollo Hospitals, said there was a need for stringent laws on food administration. “In our country, the laws are not stringent. Proper nutrition food labelling has to be made mandatory,” she added.

Rahatgi suggested that one look for trans fat content, salt replacement, flavour enhancers and other added preservatives before consuming ready-to-eat food items.
Alternative healthy snacks are what dieticians say are good for children.

“MSG is not advised for growing children. Even as there are no studies to prove it is harmful, it is believed to be carcinogenic,” she added.

A non-cereal snack is what is advised to be served to children in the evening. Fruits and sprouts are ideal, Dr Priyanka said.

“Also, for the child to understand if it is hunger or just thirst, tender coconut or butter milk can be given,” she added.

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