Snack With Caution

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Wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and chocolate cookies? Or maybe not! Who wants to have flavoured mud or chemical-laced flour first thing in the morning? Maybe, a cup of tea can be the great start for your morning. But you can’t rule out the possibility of it having coal tar dye.  If you plan to give your kids a glass of milk, beware! Most likely, the milk that comes to your house contains a concoction of deadly chemicals and artificial hormones.

You might want to give that toast and butter, that so often makes its way on to your plate every morning, a second look. It most probably contains indiscriminately high levels of starch and sugar. The butter is probably so high in sodium it can give you a heart attack.

With instant noodles (Maggi) being banned across the country, suddenly everybody is looking more closely at labels of food they are consuming. However, lack of knowledge and awareness can still put us on a back-foot.

It is not just Maggi, but out of the 49,290 food samples tested by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India in the past month, 8,469 did not clear the food safety tests.

A global food monitoring company reveals that India is the world’s worst food violator, with 11.1% of all food not making the cut for safety norms.

Processed food has made its way into our lives so slyly and subtly that we are not even aware of the harmful, dangerous and alien chemicals that we consume on a daily basis. We tend to overlook the danger in all packaged food that is made to look so scrumptious on television and print ads.

Having worked with a lot of TV commercials, I have seen the reality of how the food and people always look so perfect. During shoots, the actual product is substituted with fake ingredients to make them look visually appealing. For example instead of chocolate milk, paint is used to make the liquid look smoother and the cheese that spreads like magic is actually a mix of paint and fevicol. Just as models are digitally retouched, so are the food items. But the effect it has is phenomenal. I’ve seen my nephew demand for the same item that he’d seen on TV.

The problem lies with selfishness and greed. A culture of greed has gripped our food chain, from the beginning to the end. At every point, someone is trying to make a profit by somehow altering the materials that go into making a food product.

People, in their bid to make money, forget the hazards such food items can have on the health of an individual and subsequently the population.

Today, we see a rise in obesity, cancer, heart attacks, mental problems, retardation, blood-related problems, kidney disorders, and many other problems and there is no doubt that contamination of food items is a major reason.

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