Friday, January 23, 2009

Food Adulteration - Can India follow China’s example?

Y’day newspapers in Mumbai reported Mewad ice cream sold in Mumbai was infected with E Coli bacteria. I remember seeing Mewad ice cream mobile trolleys on Dalal Street. This news also brought memories of New Delhi summer. Yellow coloured mobile cold-water fountains would sell chilled water to parched throats of Delhites. I looked at them more out of pity after seeing those brown stained glasses being washed in water-filled bucket hanging below the trolley. When I saw the news of Delhi police discovering the nexus of the staff of mortuary of AIIMS and these vendors diverting the supply ice slabs meant to store dead bodies, I squirmed in disbelief. I doubt if I would ever drink that water even though the nexus may well have broken.

These two incidents came to my fore when I read that China court gave death sentences to three men and sentenced the former board chairperson of big dairy firm to life in prison for adulteration of baby milk with melamine that killed six infants and sickened 300,000 others.

I wonder how many Indians are slowly being poisoned not just from isolated cases of Ice Cream and drinking water but also from Fruit sellers. Enticing customers with slices of succulent ripe bright-red watermelons, they feed them red dye that was injected into the fruit to get a bright red shade. Apples in order not to lose luster are coated with wax. Green vegetables in order to look fresh are given a coating of colour to make them look fresh. Ladyfinger, Peas, Capsicum and Brinjal are given a coloured bath or a shiny coat .The most popular colors Sudan red, methanol yellow and lead chromate. Methanol yellow cause cancer, stomach ailments and degeneration of the male reproductive organs, lead chromate causes anemia, brain damage and blindness. Sudan red is also carcinogenic.

This does not end here. Hospitals that treat dialysis patients often have no control on its water quality. The toxic elements that they introduce in the gullible, uninformed patients could be doing more harm than their nonfunctional Kidney’s may have done. How I wish, India like China enact stricter punishment for every food adulterator – be it a fruit vendor or a clinic.

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