Fruits tested positive for at least one pesticide residue
By Pragati Shukla
Not just fish, but even vegetables and fruits imported from outside could be contaminated due to large scale use of preservatives. The apples from New Zealand and China cannot be sold in Goa without the use of preservatives
Oh, how do you like them apples? The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit advocacy agency has released their list of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables — and apples have been ranked as the most contaminated — fifth year in a row. The Dirty Dozen list includes the top 12 fruits and veggies with the highest amount of pesticide residues. The agency hopes to enlighten people so they study the list, stay away from this produce and go for the organic options instead, at least for these 12 items — Apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet ball peppers, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes.
“The bottom line is people do not want to eat pesticides with their fruits and vegetables,” said Ken Cook, EWG’s president and co-founder. “That’s why we will continue telling shoppers about agricultural chemicals that turn up on their produce and we hope we will inform, and ultimately, empower them to eat cleaner.”
According to a statement, the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce ranked pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of more than 34,000 samples taken by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and federal Food and Drug Administration. It was found that pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables even when they were washed or peeled.
This can’t be good, especially when pesticides have been linked to a range of health problems, including cancer, developmental problems and lower IQ in children.
“We are saying, eat your fruits and vegetables,” said Sonya Lunder, EWG’s senior analyst. “But know which ones have the highest amounts of pesticides so you can opt for the organic versions, if available and affordable.”
Dirty Dozen PLUS
EWG says the Dirty Dozen + category focuses on food that contains trace levels of highly dangerous pesticides. Though these don’t meet the Dirty Dozen ranking criteria, they are contaminated with insecticides that are deadly to the human nervous system. Leafy greens — kale and collard greens — and hot peppers feature in this list.
Research conducted by USDA scientists in 2007-2008 found 51 pesticides on kale and 41 pesticides on collard greens. Several of those pesticides -famoxadone, dieldrin, oxydemeton, chlorpyrifos, DDE and esfenvalerate are extremely toxic.
Though farmers would have altered their pesticide practices since 2008, esfenvalerate and chlorpyrifos are still allowed on leafy greens. Likewise, Organochlorine pesticides DDE and dieldrin were banned a few years ago but still linger on your greens even today. Organophosphates pesticides – which are potent neurotoxins – can damage children’s intelligence, brain development and nervous systems even in low doses.
How to Stay Safe
Shop smart and buy organic whenever you can. It’s always a good idea to shop from Local farmers’ markets.
A study by Cynthia Curl of the University of Washington found that people who “often or always” buy organic produce had significantly less organophosphate insecticides in their system even though they reported eating 70% more servings of fruits and vegetables per day than adults who said they “rarely or never” purchase organic produce.
Formalin Scare Hits Fish Markets In Assam; Kerala, Northeast Cautious
A shipment of fish which tested positive for formalin on July 10, put the brakes on its imports in Assam
The price of local fish in Assam has shot up by `100 per kilo in the last five days after the July 11 ban on fish imports from other states, especially Andhra Pradesh. Assam’s annual fish intake is 10,000 metric tonnes, and about 90% is imported from Andhra Pradesh.
However, a shipment of fish which tested positive for formalin on July 10, put the brakes on its imports.
Formaline is used to preserve cadavers. It is a carcinogen.
The ban on Andhra’s fish is temporary, but the government hasn’t ruled out an extension.
“We will keep testing samples and if they turn out positive, we will again ban. In Assam, most people consume fish every day. We don’t have adequate production so there is no question of a permanent ban,” said Pijush Hazarika, Assam Minister of State for Health.
Nagaland, too, has banned import and sale of fish from the southern state after samples tested positive for formaldehyde on June 22.
In the neighbouring Mizoram, fish samples being collected from markets and they would be tested at the laboratory of the Regional Institute of Para-Medical and Nursing Sciences (RIPANS) for the presence of cancer-inducing formalin, a Mizoram health department official said.
Even as the earlier samples tested negative, the state won’t stop taking precautionary measures and regular testing of samples will continue.
In Kerala, the situation is improving. No formalin contamination was found in the last 10 days in fish imported from both Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Imports, after thorough checks, from both the states have been entering Kerala.
But officials don’t want to take any chance. They have increased monitoring in the coastal state and have also introduced quick test kits produced by Kochi-based Central Institute of Fisheries and Technology.
“In June, we tested 28,000 tonnes of fish from Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad using quick test kits, and confirmed the results from various laboratories. The fish tested positive for formalin,” said MG Rajamanikyam, Food Safety Commissioner.
Due to lack of space for disposal in Kerala, the fish were sent back to the state of origin with an instruction to avoid their sale.
But officials of Andhra’s fisheries department sent to Assam say they have tested nine samples at the entry point in Guwahati in the presence of officials from both states and not even one tested positive for formalin. That report has been sent to the Assam government.
Food products prone to adulteration in India
Food is adulterated to increase the quantity and make more profit. The technical definition of food adulteration according to the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is, “The addition or subtraction of any substance to or from food, so that the natural composition and quality of food substance is affected.” In India normally contamination/adulteration in food is done either for financial gain or due to carelessness and lack in proper hygienic condition of processing, storing, transportation and marketing.
Adulteration has taken away the joy of life. Now everything you like, may or may not have fallen prey to the locus of adulterants. We see grey but it turns out to be black and white. We are trapped in an illusion where everyday food items are now all messed up. This ultimately results in the consumer being cheated or even worse, often becoming the victim of diseases. Such types of adulteration are quite common in developing countries or backward countries. According to the Journal of Food Science, “Olive oil, milk, honey, saffron, orange juice, coffee and apple juice are the seven most likely food ingredients to be targets for intentional or economically motivated adulteration of food.”
Milk is possibly one of the easiest targets and that’s why you’ll find hundreds of cases where food authorities or independent food testing agencies have found milk to be adulterated. A 2014 report warned users how the milk produced by Indian cows
might be adulterated because they graze on garbage. A 2012 study conducted by the FSSAI across 33 states found that milk in India was adulterated with diluted water, detergent, fat and even urea. Some of the adulterants that are used in milk are water, chalk, urea, caustic soda and skimmed milk, while khoya is adulterated with paper, refined oil and skimmed milk powder.
Honey is often adulterated with water and table sugar to increase the quantity. According to a study carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment, most honey brands being sold in the country contain varying amounts of antibiotics and their consumption over time could induce resistance to antibiotics, and lead to blood-related disorders and/or injury to the liver.
Spices like turmeric powder are also adulterated with ‘metanil yellow’. ‘Metanil yellow’ is produced with utilizing some raw materials like ‘metanilic acid’ and ‘diphenylamine’. The common people do not know the risk of consuming turmeric powder mixed with ‘metanil yellow’. It is purely carcinogenic — means it is capable of causing cancer in living tissues. In black pepper adulterant is Papaya seeds (used to add bulk). Its harmful effect is that Papaya seeds can cause serious liver problems and stomach disorders. Chilli powder is often adulterated with a similar looking substance like brick powder.
In ice-cream the adulterants, pepperonil, ethylacetate, butraldehyde, emil acetate, nitrate, washing powder etc, are not less than poison. Pepperoil is used as a pesticide and ethyl acetate causes terrible diseases affecting lungs, kidneys and heart. Ice cream is manufactured in extremely cold chamber where fat is hardened and several harmful substances are added. Also a kind of gum is added which is sticky and slow melting. This gum is obtained by boiling animal parts like tail,the nose,the udder etc.
Food grains and Flour
Rice and wheat are a part of our staple food in India. Powdered rice and wheat are usually adulterated with starch. This is done to thicken the cream. This added substance takes away the nutrition intended for the consumer leaving us under the illusion that our diet is perfect. Rice is being adulterated with small ‘grains of stones’ to increase the overall weight per quintal by unscrupulous retailers.
Coffee powder usually adulterated Tamarind seeds, chicory powder (used to add bulk and colour). It is harmful as it can cause diarrhoea, stomach disorders, giddiness and severe joint pains.
Tomato sauces mostly used in local fast food centres in numerous areas of West Bengal, are also artificially made from ‘pumpkin pulp’, ‘sugar’, ‘non-edible colours and flavours’. No tomato is present in that sauce to maintain very cheap rate in the local market. These sauces with ‘artificial colours and flavours’ are highly carcinogenic. These are being supplied rampantly without the checking of the health department.
Tea leaves are often adulterated with chemicals and additives that add to its aroma or flavour. Many substances have been used to adulterate tea. Ordinary substances for adulterating tea include, but are not limited to: Prussian blue — a nonsoluble, blue pigment commonly used to color blueprints, crayons, paintings, and paint; it is non-toxic to humans. Indigo — a blue dye derived from the Indigofera tinctoria plant; it is non-toxic to humans. Graphite (Plumbago) — a naturally occurring mineral that is a form of carbon; commonly used as the “lead” in pencils. Gypsum — a soft, naturally occurring mineral; used to alter colour of tea
Vegetable Oils and Ghee
In Mustard seeds and mustard oil, the adulterant is Argemone seeds (used to add bulk and weight). Papaya seeds (used to add bulk)that the consumption of these could cause epidemic dropsy and severe glaucoma. Young children and senior citizens with poor immunity are more susceptible this. According to a food website report 70% of the olive oil sold is adulterated with cheaper oils. The most common form of adulteration comes from mixing olive oil with cheaper, lower-grade oils. Sometimes, it’s an oil from an altogether different source — like canola oil or colza oil. Other times, they blend extra olive oil with a poorer quality olive oil.
Khoya and Chhena are commonly used for the preparation of traditional Diwali sweets, and are often adulterated with starch. All you need to do is boil a small sample in water, cool it then add a few drops of iodine solution. A blue colour indicates the presence of starch. Silver coating (vark) used to decorate sweets is made from silver. According to Indian regulations, silver must be 99.9% pure if it is used as a food ingredient. However, with silver becoming expensive many sweet shop owners use silver vark that could contain aluminium.