Saturday 30 July 2011

New Act to make eating safe

Jul 30, 2011

CHANDIGARH: The fight against transfat in ready-to-eat products will gather greater pace from August 5, when Food Safety and Standards Act is implemented. It will become necessary to specify how much transfat is in food products and if that is not done, the consumers can take packets to food inspectors and complain.

Also, sale of food items having more than 10% transfat won't be allowed.

The lab for testing food is also being equipped with systems so that eatables can be checked according to new regulations. Revamp of the lab so it can analyze pesticide residue is a priority.

The Act also requires that all street vendors selling food register with health department to enable hygiene regulation.

''Those vendors, who are infected with contagious diseases, including skin ailments and tuberculosis, will be
medically examined,'' said a food inspector from UT's department of health.

The Act also enables a consumer to keep a part of the suspected adulterated sample with himself, which can be tested in a laboratory of his choice anywhere in the country.

UT's health authority Dr Satbir Singh said, ''We had no facility for pesticide residue tests. Now we will be able to carry those out.''

''All food will be under the purview of the Act. If there is an expired food product of a particular company, the surveillance system of this Act will help us withdraw stock from all across the country, wherever the batch has been sent,'' added a health official.

''We are aware that fat and cholesterol must be taken in limited amount. But how much is inside a packed food item varies according to the cooking medium. All fried food contain transfat, which must not be more than 10% of the food,'' said senior dietitian from PGI, Madhu Sharma. 

Source: The Times of India

Friday 29 July 2011

Adulterators beware, govt to crack the whip

July 29, 2011

CHENNAI: The state will soon take on the scourge of spurious drugs and adulterated food with the formation of a unified commissionerate of food and drug safety.
The state health department will form the commissionerate under the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006, which will replace the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, 1954, on August 5.
The new body will also be empowered to enforce the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954.

The commissioner, a senior IPS official, will lead a team consisting of officials from food safety and drugs control. Each team will have assistant commissioners, who will be a senior health department official. These officials will offer technical support to the commissionerate.
The food safety department will issue licences to those selling food items after ensuring hygiene and food safety. The Act spells out stiffer monetary penalties for violations.
The penalty for the manufacturer of adulterated food items will be in the range of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh and the case will be adjudicated by an officer of the rank of sub-divisional magistrate.
Under the new rule, the commissionerate need not wait for years for courts to pronounce judgments in the cases they file.
If there is enough evidence, it can impose fines or cancel trade licences. At present, food inspectors double up as health and sanitary inspectors.
They pick samples and also look at sanitation, mosquito menace and contamination of water. Now, they will focus exclusively on food safety.
Instead of merely checking for adulteration, the food inspectors will check food quality and hygiene at outlets. "We are still fighting cases as old as 20 years in courts," said a senior official in the directorate of public health.
Officials from the directorate of drugs control will be brought under the new department. M Bhaskaran, former director of drugs control, thinks the merger will be a major boost to ensuring drug safety.
"Drug inspectors often skip a number of products that come as food supplements, thinking food inspectors would do the job. Food inspectors assume they come under drug inspectors. It's now time that these products, which claim miracle cures, come under the scanner," he said.
But some like former director of public health Dr S Elango feel that the merger could dilute the work done by each department.
"The new rules will regulate manufacture, sale and import of food items. It requires technical knowledge to do all this. The US FDA has people who are from the health department, not the police," he said.

Source: The Times of India

Thursday 28 July 2011

Calorie labelling in the U.S. leads to more awareness

July 28, 2011

A study published in the British Medical Journal says around a sixth of fast food customers used calorie information and, on average, bought food with lower calories since the introduction of a labelling system in the U.S.
Obesity rates in the US are at an all time high in both adults and children and currently a third of adults and 17 per cent of children and teenagers are obese.
Customers often underestimate the number of calories in restaurant meals and before 2007, nutrition information was seldom available at the point of purchase.
The U.S. researchers found there has been a small but positive impact from a law introduced in 2008 in New York requiring chain restaurants with 15 or more branches nationally to provide calorie information on menus and menu boards in the city.
The team of researchers decided to assess the impact of the calorie labelling regulation on the energy content of individual purchases at fast food restaurants in New York City. Surveys were carried out during lunchtime hours in spring 2007 (one year before the regulation) and in spring 2009 (nine months after its implementation) at 168 randomly selected locations of the top 11 fast food chains in the city.
Adult customers provided register receipts and answered survey questions. Data from 7,309 customers in 2007 and 8,489 customers in 2009 were analysed.
Overall, there was no decline in calories purchased across the full sample. However, three major chains saw significant reductions.
For example, at McDonalds, average energy per purchase fell by 5.3 per cent, at Au Bon Pain, it fell by 14.4 per cent and at KFC, it dropped by 6.4 per cent. Together, these three chains represented 42 per cent of all customers in the study. However, average energy content increased at one chain — Subway — by 17.8 per cent where large portions were heavily promoted.
Analysis also showed that 15 per cent of customers reported using the calorie information and, on average, these customers purchased 106 fewer kilocalories than customers who did not see or use the calorie information.

Source: The Hindu

Now, principals can penalise tobacco sellers

July 28, 2011

Soon, heads of schools and colleges and municipal staff will have powers to slap fine on shop owners selling tobacco products in the vicinity of these establishments.

A notification, aimed mainly at checking minors falling prey to the clutches of tobacco, has been sent for the Law Ministry’s approval, after wh­ich it will become operational.

“The notification has been sent to the Union Law Ministry. We hope to release it in two weeks,” Kesav Desiraju, additional secretary in the Union Health Ministry said.

Currently, such powers are vested with the health and police officials, often leading to slackening in the implementation of anti-tobacco rules.

Tobacco kills 7,00,000 to one million Indians every year.  Many are victims of mouth cancer caused by smokeless tobacco.

Nicotine is well abso­rbed from smokeless tobacco and remain elevated for a lo­nger duration. Continuous use of smokeless tobacco also le­ads to shrinkage of heart vessels.

Insidious effect
Even as smokeless tobacco continues to be a matter of concern for policy makers, beedi remains the second common tobacco product whose effects are more insidious than cigarette. The Ministry in association with the World Lung Foundation has launched its first mass-media campaign to create awareness about the ill effects of smoking. To be aired shortly on radio and television channels in 14 Indian languages, the one-month media campaign will urge people to kick the butts for a healthy life.

Source: Deccan Herald


SVT College, Mumbai
July 18, 2011

FDA Maharashtra and AFST (I) Mumbai Chapter in association with SVT College of Home Science, SNDT Women’s University, Juhu, Mumbai came together for the cause of improving street food safety in Mumbai. As a first step, the organizations jointly conducted a training session on 16th July 2011 at the SVT College auditorium for about 50 street food vendors from the Juhu and Girgaum chowpatti areas. The programme was conceptualized with the aim of bringing the basic GMP/GHP awareness in street food handlers in line with FSSAI requirements. Mrs. Seema Vyas, Commissioner FDA Maharashtra, Dr. Jagmeet Madan, Principal SVT College, celebrity chef Mr. Vishnu Manohar, Mr. Prabodh Halde, Hon. Vice President AFST (I) Mumbai Chapter, Mr. Sanjay Indani, RSM Astute Consulting and Dr. Nilesh Amrutkar, Secretary AFST (I) Mumbai Chapter made their presence. FDA officials from various districts of Maharashtra were also present at the event. Dr. Jagmeet Madan, in her address urged the street vendors to actively cooperate in the training and thereafter for the project planned for the vendors in collaboration with the college students. Mrs. Seema Vyas, in her warm address, assured the street vendors to provide every support required for the implementation. Mr. Prabodh Halde set the context for the programme and encouraged the participants to gain maximum benefits.
The street vendors were trained for the good hygiene and sanitary practices in a class room session coupled with practical demonstrations by the college students. The students of SVT College presented an interesting street play encompassing various aspects of food safety and hygiene which received huge applauses and appreciation. Mr. Sanjay Indani and Mr. Vishnu Manohar conducted the class room session on basic practices to be followed for hygiene and safety of food. Mr. Indani covered elaborately various aspects of basic hygiene and sanitation in his presentation and made the session lively. Mr. Manohar addressed the street vendors with motivational words. The second part of the session which was coordinated by the college staff of Department of Food and Nutrition along with the NSS team consisted of practical demonstrations on safe cooking to the vendors. Great efforts were made by the students to set up stalls with detailed charts, other visuals and demonstrations of simple good practices for the vendors. The stalls were based on different generic and specific themes like personal hygiene, good practices for fruits and juice vending centres and more. The demonstrations were conducted for the vendors in groups. These demonstrations were well received and highly appreciated by one and all.
Mr. Ramchandra Shivram Kadam, Vice President of the Street Vendor Association along with the members attended the event and appreciated the initiative. Following the practicals, the vendors were requested for feedback and suggestions on the program and the implementation approach to which they positively responded. The program in all was an enriching experience for the vendors who learned better food handling practices and promised to practice the same. SVT
College in collaboration with the partners of AFST, FDA and Equinox Labs also intends to take up a pilot project to work with street vendors of Juhu beach; the details of the same are being worked out.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Overweight people likely to stay that way

July 27, 2011

It’s bad news for overweight people. A 55-year study in Britain has found out that once people gain weight, they can never return to their original size. Of the 12 million Britons who diet every year, less than 10% succeed in losing significant amounts of weight — with most putting it back on within a year. The national survey by the Medical Research Council followed 5,362 men and women since their birth in 1946, and 20,000 people born in 1958, the ‘Daily Express’ reported.
The study measured weight and blood pressure and assessed the lifestyles of the people.
“Both groups began increasing in weight in the 1980s and since then people have been increasing in mass all through life,” Rebecca Hardy of the council was quoted as saying.
“For men it goes up steadily through life. For women it starts slowly and accelerates in the mid-30s. Once people become overweight they continue relentlessly upwards — hardly ever going down.”
The study, however, adds that dieting has its own benefits.
People who try to lose weight tend to eat better and exercise more, leading to increased fitness and lower blood pressure.

Source: Hindustan Times

Tuesday 26 July 2011

New food act to strengthen regulation, raise industry standards


July 26, 2011

India's new food safety act will strengthen better the ability of regulators and the government to handle food contamination incidents, the head of one of India's top food research institutes has said. 


India will put in force on August 5 the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which will see the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), a body formed under the act, legally empowered to handle all food safety issues in India.

The FSSAI consists of scientific panels that will set standards and regulate and monitor the manufacture, processing, distribution, sale and import of food so as to ensure safe and wholesome food.
“This body will be able to better handle food contamination cases as it will have the ability and talent to trace the source of contamination in processed food more efficiently,” said Vinay Oswal, director of the National Agriculture and Food Analysis and Research Institute (NAFARI).

Oswal made the comments at a news conference with reporters on Friday. He said that the act had been delayed by five years, as time was needed to prepare the machinery for effective implementation.
Oswal added that farmers would also have to adopt good farming practices to prevent contamination of raw material used by food processing units.
According to Oswal, the act has asked the food processing units and their suppliers to ensure use of quality agricultural produce and follow standard practices at processing, storage, supply and procurement.
“It will also push all the factors in supply chain to document it scientifically, [and] store it, which would be verified by the government officials regularly. Ultimately, it will percolate to the farmers as well, as the procuring party would demand certain good practices and processing methods from them,” he said.

Source: AP Food Technology 

Packaged foods may get less salty soon

HYDERABAD: What are the ways to make India consume less salt? One that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has decided upon for implementation is to make it mandatory for packaged food manufacturers to gradually reduce the salt content in their offerings.

The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) has recently recommended that the daily intake of salt be reduced from 8 gm to 6 gm per person, as it is found that consumption of salty foods contributes to incidences of hypertension and other problems. "We have recommended reduction in consumption of salt as it poses a great health risk," said its director B Sesikeran.

However, as it is not possible to regulate the addition of salt in home-cooked food, and realizing that packaged food usually has a high sodium content, ICMR has decided to focus on it first. It has also noted that changes in lifestyle have led people to consume more packaged foods than earlier.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is thus already discussing ways to persuade manufacturers to use less salt in food products. However, it is felt that reducing the salt content drastically and suddenly could affect the consumption of packaged goods in general. An idea being considered to prevent this is to gradually decrease the sodium content instead. This will go some way in ensuring that consumers become accustomed to the reduction in the salt intake without a marked change in taste, and the manufacturers also would not suffer as a result of the health measure. Another move that FSSAI is keen to implement, and is currently discussing is that the food manufacturers be required to display the sodium levels on their packaging.

A new manual 'Dietary Guidelines for Indians' released by the NIN also discusses the need for finding alternatives to salt. The ICMR also wants more research done on alternatives to salt. Since ready-to-eat foods have become a preference in recent years because of the changing lifestyles of people, it feels that reduction of salt at the 'source level' would be a better idea.

Sunday 24 July 2011

MU to study impact of midday meals on school kids

July 24, 2011

MANGALORE: Manipal University will conduct a comprehensive study on the impact of midday meals on school students in Dakshina Kannada, Mysore, Hubli and Bellary districts soon.
Addressing at a workshop on midday meals organized by the Akshaya Patra Foundation at zilla panchayat hall here on Saturday, Manipal University public health department head Ramachandra Kamath said the study has already been started in 10 schools in Mangalore, he said, adding that the main objective of conducting study is to ascertain the nutritional and health status of children, who consume midday meals.
Delivering the inaugural address, higher education minister V S Acharya said infant mortality rate is very less in coastal districts compared to other districts in the nation. While the infant mortality rate is 7.8 deaths per 1,000 children in other districts, the coastal belt has recorded only 5.6 per 1,000 children, he said and pointed out that the population of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts have decreased by 25% and 20% respectively.

Source: The Times of India

Tomato plants produce unique antioxidant

Antioxidants produced by tomato plants have beneficial health properties, such as helping to prevent coronary heart disease and cancer.

July 24, 2011

A new natural antioxidant synthesised by tomato plants is 14 times as potent as resveratrol, the wonder compound and antioxidant in red wine, which delays ageing.
Antioxidants have beneficial health properties, such as helping to prevent coronary heart disease and cancer. Therefore, the compound could have major applications in the pharmaceutical industry.
Researchers from the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMCP) in Spain have identified the compound, which was completely unknown until now, reports the journal Environmental and Experimental Botany.
IBMCP researchers point out that the antioxidant is also 4.5 times more potent than vitamin E and 10 times more potent than vitamin C.
“Many phenolic compounds are produced by plants in response to biotic or abiotic stress. These compounds have multiple effects, including antioxidant activity,” IBMCP director Vicente Conejero said.
Biotic stress occurs as a result of damage done to plants by other living organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, beneficial and harmful insects or experimentally, according to an IBMCP statement.
This substance could have multiple applications. For example, in the food industry it could be used as a preservative in food for human consumption.
In the cosmetic industry it could be used in products for skin care, given its possible properties related to the prevention of ageing.
This powerful antioxidant would prevent changes such as fats and oils becoming rancid, which diminishes food quality extremely. It could also be used as a supplement to functional products. 

 Source: The Hindu

Saturday 23 July 2011

‘Unbalanced diet’ can put teens at serious disease risk

July 23, 2011

Health officials have warned that teenage girls are facing the risk of illnesses like cancer, heart disease, strokes and diabetes in later life by eating fewer than three servings of fruit and vegetables every day. According to a report backed by the UK Department of Health, just one in13 teenage girls eats the recommended “five a day” portions of fruit and vegetables. Almost half do not eat enough iron, an essential nutrient found in red meat, nuts and some vegetables that helps fight infection.
And their diets are too high in saturated fat, which can lead to high levels of cholesterol causing strokes and heart attacks.
The UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which involved more than 2,000 adults and children, found that teenage girls’ diets were generally less healthy than boys.
Boys eat an average three portions of fruit and veg a day compared with 2.7 for girls.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies warned that poor eating habits in childhood could increase problems in later life.
“It is really important that teenagers eat a balanced diet – including eating five portions of fruit and veg a day. Eating well and being active can help prevent serious illnesses such as cancer and heart disease later in life,” the Daily Mail quoted Davies as saying.

Source: Hindustan Times

Thursday 21 July 2011

Vegetarian diet helps ward off bowel disorder: Study

Vegetarians are a third less likely to get diverticular disease - a condition thought to be caused by eating too little fibre.

July 21, 2011

Suffering from irregular bowel movements? Turn vegetarian if you want to ward off the disorder, scientists say.
Researchers led by Dr Francesca Crowe at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit of Oxford University found that vegetarians were a third less likely to get diverticular disease - a condition thought to be caused by eating too little fibre.
For their study, the researchers looked at 47,033 British adults, of whom 15,459 were vegetarian.
After an average follow—up of 11.6 years, there were 812 cases of diverticular disease, which causes cramps, wind, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea.
After adjusting the factors such as smoking, alcohol and body mass index (BMI), the researchers found vegetarians had a lower risk of diverticular disease compared with meat eaters, the Daily Mail reported.
The reasons, according to the researchers, could be the consumption of meat altering the metabolism of bacteria in the colon, which weakens the colon wall and increases the risk of diverticular disease.
The potential protective benefits of vegetarianism could be obtained even in a short time, the study found.
There also seemed to be a link between eating more fibre and being at lower risk of the disease.
Patients who consumed the most fibre, more than 25.5g per day for women and more than 26.1g for men, had a 42 per cent lower risk than those who ate less than 14g per day.
The new findings were published in the British Medical Journal.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

discuss about the science in food

Followers and the members of the blog are requested to discuss the science in food , as well the various reports appearing in the media on food and issues of contamination etc.

we have to learn from the experiance and knowledge of members as well visitors to the blog and the same shall be truely beneficial to all the other viewers as well.

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Home-cooked food may help babies develop taste for fruits

July 20, 2011 

Parents please note: Infants fed home-cooked food are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables when they grow up than those who were given packaged food, a new study has claimed.
A team of British researchers found that babies weaned on home-made casseroles and puddings develop a taste for what is good for them by the age of seven.
Experts from De Montfort University in Leicester and the universities of Bristol and Birmingham analysed data from 7,866 mothers of children born in 1991 and 1992.
The results showed that youngsters who were frequently given home-cooked fruit or vegetables aged six months were more likely to be eating higher amounts of fruit and vegetables at the age of seven than those given home-cooked meals less often.
There was no positive effect on later eating habits for babies fed shop-bought meals, the Daily Mail reported.
Writing in the journal Public Health Nutrition, the researchers said: “The findings support the concept that exposure to fruit and vegetables is important in the early weaning period.” Dr Helen Coulthard, from De Montfort University, said mothers should be giving their infants a home-cooked fruit or vegetable every day.
“The range and type of foods that young children eat is becoming an increasing cause for concern,” she said.
“Fruit and vegetables from packets, jars and tins are likely to have a uniform taste and texture, whereas those cooked at home or eaten raw will vary according to the variety of the particular fruit or vegetable, whether it is in season and the cooking method.
“These variations in the taste and texture of fruit and vegetables should expose an infant’s palate to a wider range of experience, increasing the likelihood they will accept a wider range of foods.”

Source: The Hindu

Ginger can help reduce side-effects of chemotherapy: doctors

July 20, 2011

Doctors at AIIMS are now working upon an herbal way to help cancer patients cope with the side-effects of chemotherapy.
Oncologists at the hospital here have been experimenting with ginger root powder in order to reduce the severity of the chemotherapy induced nausea vomiting (CINV).
Nausea and vomiting are the major side effects that a cancer patient encounters after chemotherapy treatment.
“The severity of chemotherapy induced nausea vomiting was reduced by ginger, our experiments showed. After the success of the study, we can say that there is a need to have ginger root powder available as capsules in varied dosages in order to use it as an add-on therapy in patients receiving chemotherapy with high vomiting potential,” said Dr Sameer Bakhshi, additional professor, department of medical oncology, AIIMS.
A total of 60 patients, between the age categories of eight to 21 years were randomly selected for the study.
“It was a double-blind randomised single institutional study carried out at our centre in 2009. Neither the patient nor the interviewer with the patients knew about the patient being administered with the dosage of ginger root powder,” Dr. Bakhshi, who led the study, said.
He said that dosages were administered according to the weight of the person. While those who weighed between 20kg to 40 kg were given 167 mg of ginger root powder capsules, those in the weight category of 40kg to 60kg were given 400 mg. Six capsules were given at different time intervals after start of chemotherpy infusion.
“Even though ginger root powder was effective in reducing the severity of acute and delayed CINV, it did not eliminate them completely. The capsules were well tolerated by the children and young adults in our study and there was no side effect,” he said.
The work has been published in the international journal of Pediatric Blood and Cancer.

Source: The Hindu

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Centre against sale of junk food in vicinity of educational institutes

July 19, 2011

The Centre on Monday told the Delhi High Court that it was against sale of junk food and carbonated drinks in and around educational institutions and has communicated with the Chief Ministers and others in this regard.

“Chief Ministers and Health Ministers of all the States have been told to consider issuing instructions to the Vice-Chancellor of all Universities, including Medical and Agricultural Universities, for withdrawal of junk foods and carbonated drinks from canteens of educational institutions,” an affidavit, filed on behalf of the Health Ministry, said.

The affidavit was filed before a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna which has been hearing a PIL, filed by an NGO, seeking a ban on junk foods and aerated drinks in and around schools and other educational institutions. The court had asked the Health Ministry to apprise it of the steps taken to create awareness among young students about “harmful effects of increased consumption of junk food.”

The Centre, in the affidavit, filed by Dhir Singh, Assistant Director of the Foods Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), admitted junk foods do cause health hazards and it was also considering framing of guidelines for making available quality food in schools and other institutions. It said that State Governments have been told to consider issuing instructions for withdrawal of aerated beverages and junk foods from canteens of schools and colleges.

Source: Pioneer

Monday 18 July 2011

New diet supplement regime in wake of sports doping scam

July 18, 2011

Functional foods such as performance enhancers that got Indian athletes embroiled in a doping scandal recently will soon come under strict quality inspection.
The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is planning to notify regulatory norms for functional foods and dietary supplements. Currently, food supplements escape regulatory scrutiny from both the drug regulatory agency and FSSAI, as their products do not come under the classical definition of medicine or food.

“The Prevention of Food Adulteration law does not define a food supplement. They are marketed by companies as proprietary products, on which we have no regulatory control. The new rules will put an end to it,” a senior FSSAI official said.
He said an expert committee appointed by the authority had already prepared the draft regulations. “This will be vetted by our scientific panel and forwarded for notification. The rules should be ready in four months,” he added.
Incidentally, most of the performance enhancers considered as banned products by the World Anti Doping Agency contain medicinal ingredients used in life-saving drugs.
Active ingredients in drugs that are given for ailments such as heart attacks, hypertension, asthma, cancer, etc are found in the performance enhancers taken by sports personnel. FSSAI’s attempts will be to see that such products are tested for quality before they are allowed to be marketed.
Regulatory officials said drugs such as beta-blockers or anabolic agents are all prescription drugs and, hence, not meant to be sold over the counter. They also note that the doping controversy was not on misuse of medicines but on use of food supplements which contained banned ingredients.

Source: Business Standard

Government mulls curbs on junk food in schools

July 18, 2011

The central government Monday admitted before the Delhi High Court that junk food causes health hazards, including heart problem, and said guidelines would be framed to serve good quality food in schools and colleges.

The government said it has invited proposals from experienced agencies, organisation and institutions for framing guidelines for providing safe food in educational institutions.
Filing an affidavit before the division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, the health ministry claimed that it has written to all states and union territories to consider issuing instructions for withdrawing carbonated beverages and junk food from school and college canteens.

The court was hearing a plea for a ban on the sale of junk food and carbonated drinks near the educational institutions.

“The centre in actively engaged in dealing with the health risks that the consumption of junk food may pose to the general health of the population and more particularly the children of the country,” said the affidavit.

“Chief ministers and the health ministers of all the states to consider issuing instructions to vice-chancellors of all universities for withdraw of junk food and carbonated drinks from the canteens of educational institutions,” it said.

According to the ministry, various studies have shown that junk food is high in fat, sodium and sugar.

“Junk food lacks micro-nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fibre but is high in energy. Junk food is responsible for obesity, dental cavities, diabetes and heart diseases,” said the ministry.

“The Foods Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is in the process of issuing guidelines for quality food in school canteens after the completion of a project and the approval of the guidelines by a scientific panel," said the affidavit.

The court is hearing a petition filed by an NGO seeking a ban on the sale of junk food and carbonated drinks within a 1,500 feet radius of schools.
It sought the view of the health ministry April 19.

The court asked the central government about the steps taken to create awareness among the young generation about the “harmful effects of increased consumption of junk food”.

“The term 'junk food' is not defined under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954. But it is understood that any food that has poor nutritional value and is considered unhealthy may be called junk food,” said the FSSAI.

Petitioners Rahul Verma and Rakesh Prabhakar of NGO Uday Foundation told the court: “It is...time we change the way kids eat in schools. Such a ban will set new standards for healthy food. On one hand, children are taught in classroom about good nutrition..., on the other, we continue to make junk food available to them.”

The court allowed the petitioner NGO to respond to the government's reply by Sep 7.

Source: Deccan Herald

Energy drinks are a health risk, says CSE study

July 18, 2011

Energy drinks consumed to increase stamina do more harm to health than good and can lead to addiction to alcohol, a study released by NGO Centre for Science and Environment said.  The CSE had tested two samples each of eight popular energy brands sold in India and found 44 % of the samples breached the safety limit of 145 particles per million (ppm) of caffeine prescribed under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.
Caffeine is a psycho-stimulant and can lead to seizure, strokes and even death.
"These drinks are touted to have major health benefits but could be doing irreparable harm instead, mainly to the young ones," the CSE said in a statement on Monday. Other sources of caffeine are tea and coffee.
The energy drink industry is worth 250 crore in India and is estimated to be growing at a rate of 20% per annum. Most of the energy drinks are consumed with alcohol in India, which the study says causes dependence on alcohol.
Red Bull, one of the biggest manufacturers of energy drinks in India, however, refused to comment on the study. The company had, however, got a stay on Food Safety and Standards Authority of India's 2009 notification of prescribing 145 ppm as safety limit of caffeine for propriety drinks.
The authority is now working on new standard of 320 ppm of caffeine for drinks having caffeine, CSE said. Some
In absence of proper standards, the CSE found that 25% of the samples did not mention the caffeine content on the label. And, 38% of the samples tested breached the caffeine limit mentioned on the label. This indicated that lack of standards is not helping the consumers in taking a proper decision before buying energy drinks.
Chandra Bhushan, associate director of CSE said: "What's more worrying is that these so called 'energy' drinks are being confused with sports drinks – this is how they are marketed and projected. But studies show that these drinks are not made to re-hydrate and replenish the body. In fact, consumed during intense physical activity, they can lead to dehydration."

Source: Hindustan Times

Energy drinks pack a caffeine punch, says CSE

July 18, 2011

Energy drinks touted to have major health benefits are so packed with caffeine that they can cause more harm than good, according to the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment which is calling for strict regulatory controls over caffeine content in drinks like Red Bull and Cloud 9.

CSE said tests carried out on leading brands like Red Bull and Cloud 9 found high levels of caffeine in 44 per cent of the samples. “Their makers and sellers claim that these energy drinks help increase alertness of the mind and improve concentration, stamina and athletic performance, but in reality, the caffeine in them can cause severe health impacts,” said CSE in a statement.

Forty-four per cent of the samples tested by CSE breached the safe limit of 145 parts per million (ppm) of caffeine prescribed by the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954.

CSE’s deputy director general Chandra Bhushan points out that currently, the caffeine content in energy drinks is unregulated and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is mulling a norm of 320 ppm. “The government has set 145 ppm as the safe limit for carbonated beverages – how can it now allow 320 ppm in energy drinks?” he argues.

What’s more worrying is that energy drinks are being confused with sports drinks. “Studies show that these drinks are not made to rehydrate and replenish the body. In fact, consumed during intense physical activity, they can lead to dehydration,” he says.

The brands tested by CSE were Red Bull, Coca-Cola’s Burn, Cloud 9, Hector Beverages’ Tzinga, Monster Energy Ltd's Monster Ripper and three of JMJ group’s XXX energy drink brands — Rejuve, Nicofix and Minus.

Source: Deccan Herald

Flouride in water: Youths age early in western Rajasthan

July 18, 2011

JAISALMER: Young people have started looking old due to the increasing fluoride content in water in many villages of Jaisalmer and Barmer districts. This is serious as problem of hunchback and bone related diseases are on rise. Besides, people avoid marrying someone from these villages.
Dozens of families in Balu village of Barmer look old despite being young and many have developed hunchback. Excessive exploitation of groundwater in many villages of Jaisalmer and Barmer has led to increase of fluoride in water and in many places the ground water is not getting recharged. The water level in these villages has declined by 20-25cm.
Around 100 families in Balu are affected. One to two people in each family has developed a hunchback. The brides, who came to this village five years ago, have also developed hunchback. Water supplied through government scheme is saline.

Balu resident Pep Singh said five years ago he had no disease, but a few months ago bones of his legs became stiff and after the check up, it was found that his bones were affected due to excessive quantity of fluoride in water.
Bhim Singh, who got married six years ago, has also developed hunchback. He said, "People avoid getting their children married in this village. As a result, the number of bachelors is increasing and in last four years no baraat has come to this village".
The number of physically challenged is increasing. People are getting weak, their teeth have turned yellow and they have other bone-related problems.
Barmer district collector Gaurav Goyal, said, "The problem of high content of fluoride in drinking water prevails in many villages of Barmer and the problem can be solved by starting the Barmer Lift Canal Project."
Barmer is not the only district facing this problem but around 125 villages in Jaisalmer, too, are facing the problem. Water works department superintendent engineer Mukesh Gupta said the groundwater in the district has high quantity of fluoride. The department has sent proposals to the government for setting up de-fluoridation unit in the affected areas and has got the approval.
Senior ground water scientist Dr Narayan Das Inkhia said increasing fluoride in groundwater is a matter of concern. The main reason is excessive exploitation of groundwater. He said recharge of ground water is less while exploitation is more. Harmful elements from rocks at the bottom get mixed with water.
Inkhia said the WHO and other agencies have fixed standards for clean drinking water which can have 1 ppm fluoride in water with 500-7000 TDS (total dissolved solid), whereas in Jaisalmer, the fluoride content in Bhagu village is 4.48ppm, Chandhan 3.04ppm, Lathi 2ppm, Basanpeer 5.76ppm, Hamira 3.60ppm, Tejmalta 2.56ppm, Koria 2.24, Beelia 2.49ppm, Bainsda 2.32, Chandsar 2.48, Adbala 6ppm and Dalapura 7.

Source: The Times of India

Sunday 17 July 2011

Ministry for ban on junk food sale

July 17, 2011

Pizzas, burgers, pakoras and soft drinks will be soon out of bounds for students across the country in their schools and colleges, if the health ministry has its way. "The Union health minister has written to state health ministers to consider the withdrawal of carbonated beverages and junk food from school and college canteens," said an affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court by Food and Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)— under the health ministry.
The court is hearing a PIL filed by an NGO seeking a ban on the sale of junk food and carbonated drinks within a 1,500 feet radius of schools. It had sought the view of the health ministry on April 19. While admitting the PIL in February, the court had asked the Centre about the steps it took to create awareness among the young generation about the "harmful effects of increased consumption of junk food".
The Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna is set to take a stand on the Centre's affidavit on Monday.
"The term 'junk food' is not defined under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954. But it is understood that any food that has poor nutritional value is considered unhealthy may be called junk food," Dhir Singh, assistant director with the FSSAI says in the affidavit.
To bolster its case for a nationwide ban, health ministry quoted medical researches to say "junk food is high in calories, fat, sodium and sugar, contains harmful additives and colour to enhance flavour  and is of no use as lacks vitamins, minerals and fibre
PIL petitioners Rahul Verma and lawyer Rakesh Prabhakar of NGO Uday Foundation told the court: "It is... time we change the way kids eat in schools. Such a ban will set new standards for healthy foods. On one hand, children are taught in classroom about good nutrition ... on the other hand we continue to make junk food available to them".
They said their nationwide 2010 survey revealed most schools allowed easy access to junk food in their canteens and shops nearby.

Source: Hindustan Times


July 17, 2011

Is what you eat wholesome? It need not leave a hole in your pocket, say nutritionists
Are the skyrocketing food prices bothering you? Relax. Wholesome nutrition need not be expensive. You don't need to spend a huge sum on almonds or exotic cereals such as quinoa. However, nutrition depends not just on what you eat, but also how you cook the food and how you eat it.
Try variations
“Unless you are pregnant or have some specific health issue, you don't need food supplements; it's enough if you eat a balanced diet,” says Nirmala Jesudason, consultant dietician, Frontier Lifeline. Among vegetables, greens happen to be rich in fibre, calcium and iron, and make an economical buy. In fact, many greens can be easily grown at home.
About 100 gm of carrot every other day will supply you with all the vitamin A you need. “But this doesn't mean a person's vitamin A requirement will be met if he eats three big carrots daily. Vitamin A is also present in egg yolk, milk, greens, all of which have other nutrients too. Likewise, Vitamin K is found in greens, mint, coriander, cauliflower, cabbage and tomato. Drumstick leaves are rich in iron and vitamin E. So, rather than depending on specific foods for specific vitamins, try to eat a variety of foods,” recommends Nirmala.
Dals are now very expensive, but one can't do without them. “Soya bean, chick pea and groundnut are high-protein foods; incorporate them in modest quantities more often into your diet,” advises Dr. Bhuvaneshwari Shankar, Group Chief Dietician, Apollo Hospitals Group. Millets such as ragi and thinai cost a pittance compared to rice and wheat, and are also rich in calcium and iron. Moreover, ragi has a nutrient-rich outer covering, unlike milled rice.
“Corn, in the form of cornflour, is as nutritious as cornflakes, and costs only a fraction of what cornflakes does. So cornflour dosa and roti can be a pocket-friendly alternative,” says Shankar.
Among fruits, potassium-rich banana, guava, papaya and water melon provide amazing nutrition at a modest price. In fact, you can safely skip a meal occasionally, and substitute it with a banana or two. Banana also happens to be an instant energiser. Again, you don't need an orange to get your requirement of vitamin C. Try lime, which has more vitamin C than strawberries. Then, there is gooseberry. Freshly chopped gooseberry, sprinkled with salt and chilli powder, not only makes a tasty pickle, but is also one that is nutritious. Sprouts, rich in vitamin C and other nutrients are a must on one's menu, and must be made part of a meal at least two or three times a week.
“But there is no substitute for milk, which has calcium in an easily absorbable form. You need about 500ml of milk every day, in some form —milk, paneer or curd. If 500ml is not possible, at least ensure 200ml of milk a day, and supplement it with greens,” says Shanthi Kumar, consultant dietician. And step out into the glare of the sun for a little while every day, to allow your body to make its own vitamin D.
The bottom line is wholesome nutrition need not be expensive. But it's also important to remember that there is really no effort-free lunch.
Food Facts
* Avoid coffee or tea just after a meal because it prevents absorption of minerals such as iron.
* Switch to boiled rice which is rich in vitamin B. The nutrition in raw rice is lost in the milling process.
* Eat more of wholegrain
* Never throw away the water that has been used to boil vegetables, dal, or cereals in, because it contains a lot of micro nutrients.
* Don't wash vegetables after chopping them; the nutrients get washed away.
* Eat fruits rather than drinking fruit juices.
* Buy your veggies often, rather than hoarding up supplies for a week.
* Fresh vegetables and fruits contain health promoting factors called phytochemicals.
* Eat fruits and vegetables with their skins, which is where nutrients get stored.

Source: The Hindu

Saturday 16 July 2011

Delhi civic body tightens anti-tobacco measures

Delhi Mayor Rajni Abbi

July 16, 2011

In a crackdown on tobacco use and sale, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Friday asked its own schools, offices, and health centres to tighten anti—tobacco measures in their respective nearby areas.
“The authorities are supposed to impose heavy fine on anybody found smoking or chewing tobacco. Necessary steps need to be taken to enforce laws in all MCD premises,” Delhi Mayor Rajni Abbi said in a letter to civic commissioner K.S. Mehra.
“Strictly enforce the anti—tobacco measures in all MCD offices, schools, and hospitals. All the 12 zones should be instructed to give a report regarding any small shop or pavement shops near schools in their areas within a week,” Abbi added.
According to a 2009 study by the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, India has nearly 274.9 million tobacco users - around 35 percent of the population.
As per the Delhi Prohibition of Smoking and Non—Smoker’s Health Protection Act, 1996, and the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, smoking is banned at public places.
The laws also prohibit sale of tobacco products to minors and sale within a hundred metres radius of a school.

Thursday 14 July 2011

Omega-3 reduces anxiety in healthy youths

(Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)

July 14, 2011

A new study has found that consumption of more omega-3 fatty acids, a main compound present in fish oil, reduces both inflammation and anxiety in healthy young people.The findings by a team of researchers at Ohio State University suggest that if young participants can get such improvements from specific dietary supplements, then the elderly and people at high risk for certain diseases might benefit even more.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have long been considered as positive additives to the diet. Earlier research suggested that the compounds might play a role in reducing the level of cytokines in the body, compounds that promote inflammation, and perhaps even reduce depression.Psychological stress has repeatedly been shown to increase cytokine production so the researchers wondered if increasing omega-3 might mitigate that process, reducing inflammation. To test their theory, they turned to a familiar group of research subjects medical students.Half the students received omega-3 supplements while the other half was given placebo pills. We hypothesized that giving some students omega-3 supplements would decrease their production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, compared to other students who only received a placebo, said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychology and psychiatry.Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition and co-author in the study explained, The supplement was probably about four or five times the amount of fish oil you'd get from a daily serving of salmon, for example.Psychological test clearly showed an important change in anxiety among the students.Those receiving the omega-3 showed a 20 per cent reduction in anxiety compared to the placebo group.We took measurements of the cytokines in the blood serum, as well as measured the productivity of cells that produced two important cytokines, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFa), stated Ron Glaser, professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics.We saw a 14 per cent reduction in the amounts of IL-6 among the students receiving the omega-3.Since the cytokines foster inflammation, anything we can do to reduce cytokines is a big plus in dealing with the overall health of people at risk for many diseases, he concluded.The study was recently published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Source: The Times of India

Tuesday 12 July 2011

FSSAI rules for labels to focus on special food category; to consider additives

July 12, 2011

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will focus on special food category while formulating the guidelines, which are on the anvil, for food labels. Also, it is devising a provision to support the use of additives with safety norms, this has been informed to FnB News by Dr D B Narayana, who is a leading scientist and regulatory expert on food, traditional medicine and pharma.
In the case of food standards for dietary uses, the Authority is looking into foods not just for infants but for also patients who are required to take certain foods (like nutraceuticals) under medical advise, stated Dr Narayana in a presentation titled ‘Understanding the evolving regulatory framework for functional food and beverage in India.’
“In the pre-FSSAI era prior to 2006, only fortified and proprietary foods existed. But now there is a presence of a range of functional foods, food supplements and foods for special nutritional or dietary uses,” said Dr Narayana.
In the infant food category there are infant formula foods, follow-up-formulae, complementary foods for infants and infant foods for special medical purposes. In the general foods category, there are nutraceuticals and novel foods.
“Foods for special nutrition or dietary uses must indicate validated labels which provide distinct composition differing from normal foods, if it exists. It should also specify supplements to regular diet or address certain diseases / physiological conditions,” he said.
Provision for food standards for dietary uses as per the draft is still under discussion and needs extensive compliance with all the requirements laid down for each category. Therefore the labels must mention clearly the purpose of marketing, physiological conditions addressed by the functional food.
Also, adherence to all other labelling conditions like its sound medical and nutritional principles, safety, beneficial, effective factors need to be clearly indicated. In the case of vitamins & minerals, if added, the food manufacturer should consider upper safe levels, varying degrees of sensitivity of consumers and intake from other dietary sources.
For botanical and ayurveda siddha and unani (ASU) ingredients, the Section 22 of the Food Safety Standards Act (FSSA) has specified the contents. Manufacturers need to interpret and allow innovations of the “food-medicine” part of the ASU wisdom for benefit of consumers, Dr Narayana stated.
The ministry of health and department of Ayush have prepared a list of ASU ingredients for incorporation into the regulations of the FSSA. The list provides botanical names, part of the plants used. In addition, over 300 ingredients from plants source, over 15 from animal source, and around 16 from metals-minerals-other sources have been identified for safe use.
“Therefore, the challenge of product development in the post-FSSAI era covers selection of formats, ingredients and compositions apart from balancing benefits and efficacy by way of right levels of the nutrients and taste. Even the packaging should be environment- and consumer-friendly yet aesthetic, non-medicinal but food and ensure shelf life in a temperate country like India,” said Dr Narayana.

Source: FnB News

Why don't we trust nature? It can very well be our doctor

Tulsi for cold, dhurva for longevity, bilwa for cleansing, vallarai for memory power, curry leaves for indigestion and good hair growth and a host of other herbs are the saviours from tiny ailments in villages.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. A garlic clove a day chases asthma away. A carrot a day keeps the ophthalmologist away . . . a dentist away and cancer away. Deep breathing exercises 20 minutes a day can keep most diseases away. A few yogasanas a day can keep most diseases away.
These are some of the sayings that we don't trust. Everyone one of us has some health ailment or the other. Some have severe headaches, others develop breathing problems, yet others get serious problems such as heart or lung ailments. But have you ever taken an apple or carrot a day as you must have learnt by heart in your primary school?
We don't trust nature. Most of us do not drink rainwater. Rainwater may be slightly contaminated with dust and other chemicals on the first day and from the roof that may be coated with chemicals, but one can harvest it directly from the skies. Keep a clean tub right in the open on the terrace. This can be done the second day of heavy rain. The first day, the water from the skies can wash away dust and other particles in the atmosphere. Then it can be double-filtered and stored in huge drums. This water can be filtered again for drinking.
One must experience the taste of rainwater. It is heavenly. An Australian study has confirmed that rainwater is very much safe for drinking and other household purposes and does not cause any illness. Most people have installed a rainwater harvesting system but use this water for bathing and washing and rarely for drinking.
Children love the rains. They love snapping those bubbles and having a bath. But today you find a lot of elders shooing them away from having fun in the rain all because they think they will catch a cold. Don't you get a cold even when you don't bath in rain? Your hair shines so well after a bath in rain/rainwater.
Working late or watching movies most of us have lost the habit of waking up early and doing some form of exercise. Schools back in the 1960s had morning prayer and some exercises in the open sunlight for about half-an-hour. Although yogasanas and breathing techniques have gained importance (more in the West), we turn to them for style, or when we have some ailment that refuses to budge with our popping pills.
Ancient texts kept at the Saraswathi Mahal library in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, about breathing exercises have this to say. Practising a certain type of deep breathing while studying (alternate right and left nostril breathing) can improve memory power and help you retain whatever you are studying. This text says that breathing should be practised on an empty stomach pretty early in the morning (studying early in the morning some time before sunrise). The text says that this way, you cannot forget whatever you have read. This is because the oxygen that enters your body clears congestion in the brain and enables it to retain whatever you have read with concentration in memory.
Deep breathing exercises practised just for about 10-20 minutes a day can improve eyesight, cure constipation, ward off most diseases. A person practising Asanas rarely gets any degenerative disease. It is advisable to learn these breathing exercises and yogasanas from a practitioner as there are rules about doing the same and they can cause harm if done in haste or on a heavy stomach or when ill.
While you can get rid of most skin problems by taking a sun-bath, we have the habit of seeing the sun when we travel to our workplace and on weekends after a late breakfast. Suryanamaskars have become a religious sign or practised to help us rid ourselves of paunches.
We use polyester garments and rarely expose ourselves to cool air or sunlight. The fresh air can give you a cold or fever. We get the idea that standing in cool air can give us a cold whereas overeating and eating junk foods or drinking colas cannot.
A lot many people are scared of tasting seasonal fruits. Mangoes are a ‘no' ‘no' for fear of our sugar levels rising or our getting diabetes. Whoever said fruits will usher in diabetes, and not a sedentary lifestyle and wrong eating habits? Bananas no, potatoes no, carrots no. There are a lot of self-analysed ‘Nos.'
Tulsi for cold, dhurva for longevity, bilwa for cleansing, vallarai for memory power, curry leaves for indigestion and good hair growth and a host of other herbs are the saviours from minor ailments in villages. People living in cities cannot even identify common herbs, much less use them to benefit. Looks like we don't trust nature.
(The writer's email is:

Source: The Hindu

Now, chewing tobacco outstrips smoking in India

Jul 9, 2011

NEW DELHI: Now, more adults in India are chewing tobacco than smoking it.
The World Health Organization's latest figures, released on Friday, said while 33% adult Indian males and 18.4% adult Indian females use smokeless tobacco, the corresponding figure for those taking a puff stands at 24.3% and 2.9% males and females, respectively. Among the youth, 19% males and 8.3% females use some form of tobacco.
The WHO's report on the "global tobacco epidemic" finds that tobacco will kill nearly six million people this year worldwide. More than five million will be users and those addicted to tobacco but have since given up. And, the rest will perish for being exposed to tobacco smoke.

WHO says tobacco could kill eight million a year by 2030. Tobacco use is one of the biggest contributors to the non-communicable diseases epidemic, including heart disease, stroke, cancers and respiratory diseases, and accounts for 63% of all deaths.
At present, more than half the world's population, or 3.8 billion, live in countries with at least some form of anti-smoking measures such as health warnings on cigarette packs, cigarette taxes and anti-tobacco mass-media campaigns.
The WHO report says there are 425 million people in 19 nations — about 6% of the world's population — where bans on tobacco marketing are in place, and nearly all of them are low or middle-income countries.
WHO says, the tobacco epidemic continues to expand because of marketing, population growth in countries, where tobacco use is increasing and also due to the "extreme addictiveness" of nicotine.
According to WHO, large, graphic health warning labels on tobacco packages are an essential component of a national strategy to reduce tobacco use.
Research from around the world has shown that large, graphic warnings are most effective at informing consumers about the health risks of tobacco use, motivating smokers to quit and discouraging non-smokers, including children, from taking to this habit.
Other findings say, 16 more countries since 2008 have enacted national smoke-free laws covering all public places and workplaces. Altogether, 739 million people in 31 countries are protected by comprehensive smoke-free laws. In addition, 210 million people are protected by smoke-free laws at state or local level, a gain of 100 million since 2008. In the past two years, 23 countries, with a population of nearly two billion, have aired strong mass media campaigns about the harmful effects of tobacco use.
"It is disheartening to see that India, where more than 2,500 people die daily due to tobacco use, took about two years to finally notifying the new set of warnings. However, civil society representatives and public health activists feel that the stronger pictures will only appear on smokeless tobacco products, whereas smoking forms like bidi and cigarette packets will carry milder pictures," Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, executive director, voluntary health association of India, said.

Source: The Times of India

'Vitamin D deficiency killed Mozart'

July 8, 2011

WASHINGTON: Had Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart spent a few minutes basking the Sun, it might have helped the young Austrian composer live longer , researchers say.
Many theories have been raised in the past about the nature of Mozart's untimely death, ranging from head trauma to rheumatic fever.
Now, researchers claimed that lack of vitamin D could have killed the legendary musician who died at the age of 35, LiveScience reported. An important vitamin in fighting off disease, Vitamin D is produced in the body from ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun. Where Mozart lived, in Vienna, these low levels of UVB rays would have easily caused vitamin D deficiencies , said the researchers.

Source: The Times of India

Food, ad. giants in US campaign against nutritional guidelines for kids’ foods

July 12, 2011

The food and advertising giants in the US have launched a determined campaign to derail government efforts to create voluntary nutritional guidelines for foods marketed to American children, who are increasingly growing obese.
Calling themselves the Sensible Food Policy Coalition, the nation’s biggest food-makers, fast-food chains and media companies, are trying to derail standards proposed by four federal agencies, Washington Post reported recently.
Core members of the coalition including General Mills, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo and Time Warner spent $6.6 million on lobbying in the first quarter of this year, disclosure records show. Overall, the coalition’s main members have spent nearly $60 million on lobbying since the start of the Obama administration, the report said.
The guidelines are designed to encourage food-makers to reduce salt, added sugars and fats in foods and drinks targeted to children. If their products did not meet the standards, food-makers following the guidelines would refrain from advertising them to children.
The standards would be voluntary and not regulations; companies would not be required to meet them, and the government would have no way to enforce them, the report said.
Public-health experts say children, many of whom may lack the critical-thinking skills to understand advertising, are bombarded daily by television ads, websites, toy giveaways and cartoon characters promoting junk food. The food and beverage industry spends about $2 billion a year marketing directly to children.
The business community has portrayed the government’s guidelines as job-killing government overreach. Food-makers said the voluntary guidelines are too severe and will prevent them from marketing even relatively healthy foods to children.
Concerned about rising obesity rates among children, Congress in 2009 directed four agencies - the Federal Trade Commission, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the Agriculture Department - to propose nutritional standards that food and beverages should meet in order to be marketed to children.
According to some estimates, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. "We allow companies into our homes to manipulate children to want food that will make them sick," said Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is leading a coalition of public-health groups, including the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, in support of the guidelines.
The four federal agencies unveiled proposed standards in May and are accepting public comment before finalising them in a report to Congress. Food-makers are saying that the voluntary guidelines could even prevent them from marketing foods such as yogurt and whole-wheat bread.

Source: FnB News

Friday 8 July 2011

Egypt denies being source of E.coli

AP An Egyptian spice dealer displays fenugreek seeds at his shop in Cairo. Health experts warned Thursday there could be more E. coli cases across Europe and elsewhere after finding recent deadly outbreaks were probably linked to contaminated Egyptian fenugreek seeds. File photo

Egypt has denied reports that the country’s fenugreek seeds exported to Europe caused the E.coli infections that claimed dozens of lives.
Officials from the Central Administration of Agricultural Quarantine took and analysed fenugreek seeds from the warehouse of the exporter and all results were negative, Xinhua reported citing a statement from the agricultural ministry.
“E.coli strain has not been reported in Egypt and no illness cases have been found,” it said.
If fenugreek sprouts are suspected to be contaminated with E.coli strain, it could be related to different handling processes, such as re-packing or water used for sprouting, it added.
The European Union has agreed to ban import of certain seeds from Egypt.
The European Food Safety Authority had published Tuesday a report on the E.coli outbreak in Germany and France. It indicated that fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt were the most likely source of the outbreak.
The outbreak has killed over 50 people in Europe since it was first reported in May.

Source: The Hindu

De-stress with the right foods

Certain foods alleviate stress.

Stress is a much discussed and misunderstood phenomenon. A necessary part of everyday life, stress manifests itself as internal response to the external pressure of daily life. Managing stress is all about the way you deal with problems. Dietary management plays an important role in countering stress.
Comfort foods
The digestive system is especially affected when the body is under stress. This is symptomatic in digestive ailments. At such times go with the foods that work best for you and give you relief. Consume citrus fruits that are rich in Vitamin C. They help to boost your body's immune system. Eat easily digestible foods like steamed vegetables, salads, fresh fruits, steamed wheat and cereal preparations. Soups and puddings are considered comfortable and offer taste and variety. Chocolate helps increase serotonin secretion, a brain chemical that has a calming effect. Milk, milk products, egg, poultry, nuts, whole grain products are also considered comfort foods during the ‘stress period'.
Here are some recipes that help counter stress.
Broken wheat and nuts drop scones
Self raising, flour - 75 gm
Baking powder - half tsp
Broken nuts - half cup
Broken wheat or oatmeal - quarter cup
Powdered sugar - 35 gm
Grated rind of lemon - 1 lemon
Egg yolks - 2
Unsalted butter - 15 gm
Thick cream - quarter cup
Water - quarter cup
Salt - 1 pinch
Cardamom powder - 1 pinch
Sift together flour, salt, cardamom powder and baking powder. Add broken nuts, broken wheat and lemon rind. Beat egg yolk, butter, cream and water together and pour this to the flour mixture. Mix well and make a thick creamy batter. Grease and heat a large frying pan. Drop 2 tbsp of batter at a time on the pan make 5 to 6 small pan cakes. Cook over a moderate heat until done, then turn them and cook for another 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a plate. Serve hot.
Bread cheese squares with coriander pesto
Bread slices (crusts removed) - 12 slices
Crushed pepper and mustard - quarter tsp each
Cheese grated - 75 gm
Chopped coriander - 1 tbsp
Egg (lightly beaten) - 1
Oil - for cooking
For Pesto
Coriander - 2 bunches fresh
Small onion - 1 tbsp
Lime juice - 1 tbsp
Grated coconut - 3 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Green chillies - 1 tbsp
Ginger - half tbsp
Mix cheese, chopped coriander pepper, mustard and lime juice together and add salt to taste. Spread this on top of each bread slice. Arrange it nicely on a tray. Refrigerate for some time. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degree Celsius. Lightly butter the tray. Bake the bread–cheese squares for 20 minutes or till done. Grind all the ingredients for the coriander pesto in a grinder till smooth in consistency. Top with grated cheese.
Chocolate truffles
Cocoa powder - 150 gm
Cashew nuts ground - 50 gm
Unsalted butter - 75 gm
Arrow root biscuit powder - 150 gm
Caster sugar - 75 gm
Vanilla essence - few drops
Chocolate vermicelli or chips - for garnish
Paper cases - 15
Take a mixing bowl, stir in all the ingredients and mix well till it is of a firm consistency. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Makes small balls and roll them into chocolate vermicelli or chocolate chips. Serve it in round paper cases. 

Source: The Hindu

A glass of milk contains cocktail of 20 chemicals

July 8, 2011

LONDON: How safe is the glass of milk you drink daily? If a new study is to be believed, it may contain a cocktail of up to 20 chemicals used in various painkillers and antibiotics . Using a highly sensitive test, a team of Spanish and Moroccan scientists found traces of a host of chemicals in samples of cow, goat and human breast milk.
Though the doses were far too small to have an effect on anyone drinking them, the researchers said their findings highlighted how man-made chemicals are now found throughout the food chain, the Daily Mail reported. The highest quantities of medicines were found in cow milk, and the researchers believe some of the drugs and growth promoters were given to the cattle, or got into milk through cattle feed or contamination on the farm.
The team analyzed 20 samples of cow milk bought in Spain and Morocco, along with samples of goat and breast milk. Their breakdown , which is published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, revealed that cow milk contained traces of anti-inflammatory drugs niflumic acid, mefenamic acid and ketoprofen - commonly used as painkillers in animals and people. It also contained the hormone 17-beta-estradiol , a form of the sex hormone oestrogen . The hormone was detected at three millionths of a gram in every kilogramme of milk, while the highest dose of niflumic acid was less than one millionth of a gram per kilogram of milk.

The scientists, however, said their technique could be used to check safety of other types of food. "We believe the methodology will help provide a more effective way of determining presence of these kinds of contaminants in milk or other products," said researcher Evaristo Ballesteros from the University of Jaen in Spain. "Food quality control labs could use this tool to detect these drugs before they enter the food chain. This would raise consumers' awareness and give them the knowledge that food is... harmless, pure, genuine, beneficial to health and free of toxic residues," he added.

Source: The Times of India