Wednesday 29 May 2013

From The Hindustan Times: Beat the Heat



Summer brings with it a slew of health problems. Dehydration, loss of appetite and allergies are some ailments that can turn this season into an unhealthy one. But certain foods can help cool your body, without compromising on nutrition. “Maintain your body’s water level in the heat, not just by drinking fluids, but also choosing foods that contain a lot of water,” says nutritionist Mitalee Doshi. Here’s our guide to what you should pile your plates with this summer.

Intestinal infections such as cholera and typhoid go around faster when the weather is warm. Eating curd increases the friendly bacteria in the intestines. “These bacteria promote digestion and boost immunity. Curd also contains vitamin B, which helps soothe ulcers, allergies and heat boils that tend to appear during summers,” says Doshi.

Due to sweating, water and essential minerals are lost from the body, which in turn, makes you tired and sluggish. But certain drinks can work as energisers. “Coconut water, packed with simple sugars, electrolytes and minerals, replenishes hydration levels,” says Doshi. “Sugar cane juice is useful for those who work out. Since it contains only natural sugars, it cools the body and energises with a high quantity of carbohydrates.” A lemon and honey drink can also instantly replenish your body’s lost water.

“Fruits like watermelon, lemon, sweet lime and orange should be consumed during the hot months as they have high water content,” says Sanjeev Kapoor, chef and director, Wonderchef. Doshi adds, “Fruits rehydrate the body and provide the essential vitamins and minerals to keep up the energy levels.”
Light to digest, water-based vegetables are recommended for the summer. “Stock up on water-rich vegetables such as cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, spinach and bell peppers. They prevent urine from being acidic,” says Doshi. “Eating these foods may assist your body’s ability to release heat so that the hot weather doesn’t make you feel overheated or exhausted.”

They may lead to constriction of blood vessels and decrease heat loss from the body. “Extremely cold foods and drinks are known to interfere with digestion and sweating, the body’s natural cooling mechanism,” explains Doshi.

“Digestion of heavy foods depletes the levels of water further. The result is fatigue, poor concentration, light- headedness and decreased metabolism. Oil contains fat, which, on entering the body, produces a thermal effect and increases its temperature,” says Doshi. “Eating too much spicy food during summers also generates heat in the body,” says Kapoor.

Kapoor advises to avoid high caffeine content as it dehydrates your body. Doshi adds, “Caffeine and alcohol both act as diuretics — substances that increase urination, which leads to a loss of excessive water from the body. Plus, with additives like sugar and other chemicals, they can increase your body’s temperature from within.”

Drink three litres of water daily. Also, drink water before, during and after physical activity to offset the fluid your body loses through perspiration. Your diet should comprise soups, salads and fruits. 

Plan light meals during the day to keep you agile. Hygiene measures should be followed as summer brings water-borne diseases. Washing hands, eating fresh food and avoiding outside food is a must. 

Friday 24 May 2013

How to Keep Your Kitchen Clean (From The Hindu)



Draw up three schedules to keep your cooking space clean, says Cecilia David who looks after hygiene at Vivanta By Taj-Surya. A daily, weekly and a monthly break-up of the cleaning chores will keep your kitchen clean 24X7. It is also an opportunity to get more eco-sensitive and learn about cleaning/disposing garbage responsibly.
EVERY DAY
Tip: Always clean from top to bottom. Do the floor last. The entire process should not take you more than half an hour.
After cooking and transferring food into the serving bowls, move them aside (to the dining table or side of the counter). Transfer soiled vessels from the countertop to the sink. Clean the stove, the blender, oil canister as it usually sits next to the stove, the tiles behind the stove, and the counter top. If you have used the microwave/over, wipe them out as well. Pay attention to areas around and under kitchen gadgets.
Put washing liquid concentrate on heavily greasy vessels (kadai, tava, etc) and allow to soak. In the meanwhile, wash the lighter vessels and crockery with a sponge. A coarse scrubber may leave scratches on the glassware/non-stick vessels. Rinse well till water runs clear and there is no residual soap on the vessels. Now move to the soaking vessels. Scrub with warm water if necessary to remove the grease. Allow water to drain from the vessels. Wipe, dry and put away.
Clean out the bins.
Sweep and mop the floor, taking care to cover the areas behind the cylinder and under the refrigerator.
Kitchen cloths should be washed every day. Damp smelly cloths lead to unpleasant odour. Keep the kitchen dry.
WEEKLY
This is a more thorough cleaning. This means inside-out cleaning of heavy equipment.
The Fridge Defrost and empty the fridge of all its contents. Remove the trays, including the ice-trays. Wipe the fridge inside out with a combination of water and white vinegar in equal proportion. Pay attention to the nooks and crannies, behind the rubber piping, handles… Wipe clean with fresh, soft cloth. Take care to organise your food in the refrigerator. Freshly cooked food should be on the topmost rack. The raw meat and fish should be stored at the bottom shelf so that it does not drip into the cooked food. This prevents cross-contamination. Change the water in the ice trays. Clean water-bottles well with warm water and a bottle brush. Pay attention to the caps. Dry well before refilling and putting them in.
Check the foodstuff. Throw out anything that is date-expired/spoilt/can’t remember when you put it in. To tackle food odour in the fridge, take a small quantity of baking powder in a container and keep it inside. Alternatively, dilute a drop of peppermint essence/oil in water and dipping a cloth in it wipe the fridge dry. But be careful you don’t use too much of the essence as it is strong and could overpower other foodstuff you have in your fridge.
Microwave Clean the inside thoroughly with a cloth dipped in water/vinegar combination. Remove the glass tray and the ring and clean them too.
Blender Put a mixture of dishwashing liquid and warm water into the blender. Run the machine. This will take care of any food particles stuck beneath the blade. Throw out the water and run the machine again more than once with just warm water so that it takes out any residual soap.
Coffee Maker Mix vinegar and warm water in equal parts and run a brewing cycle. Repeat the cycle another couple of times with only warm water.
Drainage Most important! Clear the sink and clean with soap and water. Pour equal parts baking soda (not baking powder) and white vinegar into the sinkhole. Allow to stand. You will notice some foaming which means the cleaning is underway. After a few minutes pour boiling water to chase down the soda/vinegar. This will clean the drain pipe, remove any grease and kill bacteria.
MONTHLY
Once a month you have to clean the draw pulls, the tap heads, door handles, wall tiles, exhaust, cobwebs, window mesh, light fixtures and switches. All of the above can be cleaned with a combination of water and white vinegar. Be extra careful when you are wiping down electrical fixtures. If there is heavy grease, then use just vinegar. Stubborn stains can also be cleaned with baking powder. Use a toothbrush to reach the corners. Even if you use garbage bags for the bins make sure you clean the bins thoroughly once a week. Segregating kitchen waste is beneficial to health.
Check the cupboards and vegetable tray before you set out to buy your monthly provisions and fresh produce. It is a good way to discover things you have put away and forgotten about. This is also an ideal time to bring down storage containers and wipe the shelves clean.
Do you have these in your kitchen?
The idea is to use as little chemical-based cleaning agents as possible. One never knows what we are allergic to, and the long term harm of some of the harsher chemicals.
Peppermint oil/essence (use diluted and sparingly, to clean surfaces. Fruit-flies hate the smell of peppermint!)
Baking powder , white vinegar, scrub, colour-coded bins, bottle brush
Soft wipes (old vests and tee shirts make great wipes).


Thursday 16 May 2013

The Hindu Reports on the Food Safety Express in Tamil Nadu


"Food Safety Express, a vehicle loaded with audio-visual equipment and awareness materials on prevention of food adulteration, began its journey in the district on Thursday to propagate the importance of food safety among consumers and food business operators.
The express was flagged off by Collector Anshul Mishra at Sairam Matriculation Higher Secondary School at Goripalayam here in the presence of senior district officials and representatives of consumer protection associations.
It will travel across the district from March 21 to April 8 covering urban and rural areas to create awareness of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006.
A team of food safety experts and consumer activists will visit schools, colleges, markets, hospitals and important public places explaining the features of the Act. Trained personnel will also demonstrate detection of adulteration in food items by using a special kit called ‘annam,’ which was developed by CONCERT, a sister organisation of the Consumers Association of India. Consumers and Food Business Operators will get information through bilingual portal www.foodsafe.caiindia.org.
Kalyani Rajaraman, project manager for the mass awareness campaign, J. Suguna, Designated Officer for Food Safety, Madurai district, Ashok Kannan, secretary, Public Welfare and Consumer Protection Association, and Rajendran, District Consumer Officer, were among those who spoke at the flagging-off function.
Apart from Madurai, the express, which started its journey in Chennai on January 17, is reaching out to consumers in Chennai, Vellore, Coimbatore and Tiruchi."

Friday 10 May 2013

Leaflet on Imports

Please view below, a leaflet we had prepared on food imports. As always, do click on the image to view it in a larger size and/or right-click on it and select "Save Image As" to save it to your computer.



Thursday 9 May 2013

Safe Food Handling

Please see below, a leaflet we had developed on the safe handling of food. Do click on the image to view it in a larger size and/or right-click on it and select "Save Image As" to download it to your computer.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Food Safety News


The Kerala State Ice Manufacturers’ Association has called off its two-day old lockdown of ice plants that began on Thursday protesting against food safety authorities’ order of closure of 15 ice plants in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts.
But for the 15 ordered to be closed, all the ice plants—which mainly served fishing industry—reopened late Friday afternoon. This followed the association’s talks with Health Minister V.S. Shivkumar and Joint Food Safety Commissioner K. Anilkumar.
Food safety officials had found traces of formalin and ammonia in samples taken from 13 of the 15, and traces of ammonia in the other two. Officials said a part of the ice blocks found their way to cool-drink shops and fruit-juice vendors, thus posing huge health risks. The ice blocks were mainly used to increase the shelf life of fish, thus putting the health of a majority of Keralites at risk.
Had the strike continued, the shortage of ice would have deeply hurt the fishing industry as ice is the main preservative used in the industry. It would also have hurt seafood exports.
K. Uthaman, general secretary of the association, said that they were calling off the strike on the assurance that ice plants would not be ‘arbitrarily’ force-closed without giving them time to take corrective steps.
The association had agreed that all the plants would secure licence from the Food Safety Authority and that they would abide by the norms stipulated by the Food Safety and Standards Act.
The Joint Commissioner of Food Safety, K. Anil Kumar, said the samples taken from the ice plants were sent to the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Kochi, for tests. The closed plants would only be allowed to reopen after getting the test results and the plants took corrective steps.
Food Safety Commissioner Biju Prabhakar, who is currently away at Mussorie, told The Hindu that all the ice plants in the State would be constantly under the authorities’ scanner.
Mr. Prabhakar rejected ice makers’ contention that ice was not a food item and that it did not warrant the safety standards stipulated for food stuff.
Since ice was being used as a preservative of fish, which the majority of Keralites ate, there was no question of lowering the norms for the plants, he said.

Leaflet on Labelling

We had a leaflet on labelling made, that you can now view below. Please click on the image to view it in a larger size, and right-click and select "Save Image As" in order to save it to your computer.



Friday 3 May 2013

Registration

Please find below, a leaflet we had prepared on Registration. You can click on the images to view a larger version or right-click and select "Save image as" in order to save the images to your computer.

Please view the most recently updated list of State Food Safety Commissioners on our website, here:
http://fssai.gov.in/Food_Commissioners.aspx





Thursday 2 May 2013

Leaflet on Licensing

Please find the leaflet we had prepared on Licensing, below. Right-click on the image and select "Save" if you want to save it on your computer. Otherwise, click on the image to see a large version.




Friday 22 February 2013

Be an Informed Consumer




“Studies say…”

Advertisers use that claim often enough. They tell consumers of scientific studies that guarantee the superiority of their product. But just what are these scientific studies and how are they conducted? These are questions that require examination.

A scientific study is a method of testing a hypothesis that constructs a test situation and then, using observation and experiment, either proves or disproves the said hypothesis. So, if a food supplement claims to make children grow taller, the study would involve a large number of children, some of whom were given the supplement and others who were given a placebo. Both sets would be observed over a period of time and their heights measured. If the study could prove that the supplement on the whole made the children on it grow faster than the children not on it, while controlling for genetic and other factors that influence height, then the makers of the supplement could use the study to make claims about their supplement’s effect.

Now, there exist a vast number of accredited studies in the fields of nutrition and health that help us gain a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between our bodies and the food we eat. These studies are conducted by researchers the world over, in a rigorously scientific manner and their results have helped us gradually better this understanding. On the other hand, there are also several studies whose independence is dubious at best. Let us examine this in more detail:

Whenever an advertiser makes a claim based upon a study, find out the name of the study they’re referring to. Was the study done by a reputed institute? Was it published in an accredited peer-reviewed journal? If it was, then it’s very likely legitimate, because these studies have been scrutinised by other independent scientists and their findings have been more-or-less validated. If it wasn’t, then you need to dig further.



Now examine the funding of the study. If the company making the claims in its ads is the one that funded the study, then you may well be suspicious of it. While this in itself doesn’t mean the study is incorrect, its independence is certainly questionable.

Additionally, researchers face a great deal of pressure from the corporate world, which operates on a different schedule than them. Time is money for a company, but good research often takes time. This is especially true for research into nutrition where results and also side effects aren’t immediately apparent. So examine the timeline of a study: how long the subjects were under examination and how big the sampling of test subjects was. The number of test subjects should be sufficiently large in order to even out statistical errors. Think at least a few hundreds, and preferably thousands.

FSSAI sets science-based standards for food manufacture. You can help us at this by being an informed consumer. We have a reward scheme for consumers who tell us about misleading or extravagant claims made by food manufacturers, that you can read more about here: http://fssai.gov.in/Portals/0/Pdf/Reward_Scheme(10-07-2012).pdf

Please always keep in mind that if something seems too good to be true, it often is.

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