Dr. Wahied Khawar Balwan
Adulteration is a very serious problem posing serious health risks to many in India. In almost every product there is adulteration. Starting from our daily groceries, it moves on to our life saving medicines. The sinners have not spared even infants’ milk products.
Food is one of the basic necessities for sustenance of life. Pure, fresh and healthy diet is most essential for the health of the people. It is no wonder to say community health is national wealth. Among man’s everyday needs, food plays a major sustaining role. From the simple dish to the most elaborate haute cuisine, food preparation is as varied and rich as a man’s taste. The lure of riches and general apathy towards mankind has led to adulterants being added to food from the simple stones in rice to the more harmful brick and boric powder.
Food adulteration is an act of adding or mixing of poor quality, inferior, harmful, substandard, useless or unnecessary substances to food. This act of spoiling the nature and quality of food items is considered food adulteration. The various types of adulteration include Food items, medicines, vegetables, paste, creams, products of famous brands and so on and so forth. May be because of this adulteration, people who consume such adulterated food suffer with upset stomach and other health related issues. I can say more than 20 per cent patients who visit a doctor or any clinic or any hospital are those who had consumed such adulterated food and food products.
Adulterated food is dangerous because it may be toxic and can affect health and it could deprive nutrients essential for proper growth and development of a human being. The worst part is some adulterated food even causes cancer, the most life threatening disease. Also, in many cases which I have come across, many pregnant women who consumed such adulterated food ended up with miscarriages because of poor fetus growth and in some extreme cases the women died while delivering babies.
Food adulteration is one of the serious challenges in the Indian society. Despite various measures and penalties, the problem continues to remain a big challenge. The saddest part is those who engage in such dirty practice do not leave even infants’ milk products and life saving medicines. Adulteration of food is a menace to the society and the perpetrators cannot be let off lightly. After the arrival of fast food concept and online order practices, the consumers really do not bother what type of food is being served to them. They totally forget the health aspect and only concentrate to get their order served at their doorsteps. Taking advantage of a consumer’s laziness, many restaurants and food joints which serve food do not bother to give importance to the quality aspect of the food but only want to satisfy their customers by serving them on time.
Why do companies engage in adulteration? Their one and only intention is that they want to increase their profit margin and want to earn big in a short time. Just to make more profit and money, risking other’s lives is absolutely an unethical practice. But they do not bother at all.
The central government, on its part, is trying everything possible to control this “crime”. In India, the ministry of health and family welfare is completely responsible for providing safe food to the citizens. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, has laid down guidelines to provide pure and wholesome foods to consumers. The Act was last amended in 1986 to make punishments more stringent and to empower consumers further. But the government is planning to enforce harsher punishment now.
The FSSAI has issued the draft amendments to the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, which was passed in 2006 but the regulations were notified only in 2011. Among the key amendments, the FSSAI has proposed to include a new section to crack down on food adulteration.
People need to be very cautious when they buy products from stores and malls. They should check for standards like ISI standard mark, Agmark for quality products, FSSAI standard mark, date of packing and date of expiry etc. If none of the prescribed standard marks is there, then they should totally avoid buying such products.
If to talk of Jammu and Kashmir, as reported with one out of every five processes foods found contaminated, Jammu and Kashmir stands at third rank among the northern states in food adulteration with 19.4% samples of processes foods failing to meet the norms of Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act. The government needs to take up the issue on a serious level and ensure that any loopholes in the existing mechanism of food safety are properly plugged and safety of the consumers is given utmost priority.
Food adulteration is an issue that encompasses the entire society or at least the majority of its people. The increasing consumerism, which in turn is drastically pushing the demand and supply needs, is one of the main reasons why people resort to food adulteration. Lack of proper quality inspection mechanism and less number of workforce too impacts the overall idea of curbing this menace. The government must focus on dealing strictly with those who engage in food adulteration. One way of doing this is by hiking the penalty, including making it analogous to attempt to murder in some extreme cases of adulteration.
It is equally important to regularly check food stuff for adulteration and ensure speedy trials through specific fast track courts.
Eat healthy, live long!
‘Any Error in this manuscript is silent testimony of the fact that it was a Human Effort’
Dr. Wahied Khawar Balwan
Senior Assistant Professor(Zoology)
Govt. Degree College Kilhotran
Jammu and Kashmir
E-mail: [email protected]