Danger on Platter: Milk, Butter, Ghee too Fall Foul of Standards
CHANDIGARH:It’s not just Maggi. The people of Punjab will now have to be cautious about all what they eat. In the state, some other edible products like milk, butter, ghee, ice cream, packaged drinking water and edible oils have also failed to clear the tests conducted by the state government.
As per the data available with the state health department, these samples have flunked the test as they contain high levels of ‘harmful substances’. While testing the products, the health department officials have found that chemicals like urea are being used in milk, beyond the permissible limit of 700 particles per million (PPM) which makes the product harmful for the consumers. And it’s just not about milk, the bottles of packaged drinking water have also made the officials worried as substances like E. Coli has been found in the water samples. And officials fear that consuming waters containing E. Coli could lead to gastroenteritis.
In the last four years, the health department have seen around 300 cases, where the items tested were found unsafe to eat or drink. Of these, 250 cases are sub-judice and the other fifty are pending for sanctions. To make the people aware about these harmful substances, a round-the-clock health helpline number has been introduced by the health department. “Now, the people are aware of all this and they even come and file complaints,’’ Dr HS Bali, joint Food Commissioner, said.Heavily filled with urea, milk tops the list of failed samples. While 22.2 per cent samples failed to clear the test in 2011, the figures went up to 44.1 per cent this March. While, the urea-content in milk is an area of concern for the health department officials, things are no better for desi ghee, butter and ice cream. From 23.1 per cent in 2011, nearly 45 per cent samples have failed the test this year.
And in a bid to ensure that things don’t worsen further, the health department have decided to conduct regular tests on food samples. “We have formed two to three teams in each district, and they regularly collect samples of various items and get them checked at our food laboratory in Chandigarh,” state Food Commissioner Hussan Lal said. “If the sample fails the test, then necessary action is taken. Every month each team takes 30-100 samples,’’ he added.
Even though the Food Commissioner talks about random sampling, things are pretty worrisome for edible oils too. While officials claim that higher amount of crude rice bran are used in the edible oils, 24.5 per cent samples failed in April. Even spices like turmeric, chillies and black pepper have high food adulteration levels.
At a time when the Maggi controversy has taken the country by storm, raising concerns about health and hygiene, the namkeens are also found unsafe. In Punjab, 47.4 per cent namkeen samples were found having harmful substances.