Winters and safe food
Post by RK News on Wednesday, November 23, 2022
The availability of contaminated food sold by some vendors in different market places has become a serious threat in the UT over the years. The geography of the UT and the climate variations make it impossible for vegetation that thrives in hotter temperatures. In Kashmir where the temperature variation is extreme reaching sub-zeros in winter – a number of fruits, vegetables and edibles have to be imported. Lack of rapid transport system, which could have lessened the distance and time of transporting materials, makes it a difficult task to import eatables while maintaining their freshness and therefore health. In the process if there are any routine delays, to except fresh stock of eatables is a farfetched idea. However, with the right knowledge about preserving fruits, vegetables and eatables, traders have been able to deliver next to freshly available stock. But the danger lurking in the know-how of using preservatives has started showing its signs. Artificial ripening is one example where vendors and traders have learned to beat the natural appeal of fruits that customers keenly observe. By treating fruits and edibles with chemical agents to make them sellable in the chilly winters, the dishonest traders and vendors are compromising on public health. It is the worst case scenario in food adulteration because unlike materials like spices or pulses wherein agents used are usually non-toxic, in fruits the chemicals are extremely harmful on being consumed. The official response to fight this evil practice is to lift samples from vendors and send them for testing. Even if the needed food testing labs are set up and their number is increased, it is still a herculean task from the moment of lifting samples to the declaration of test results and the corresponding action. Therefore there is a need to find an alternate to the existing food safety mechanism. Possession of ripening agents, for example, must be banned. The law must be strengthened for a more stringent action and penalty against dishonest vendors and traders. The government banned sale of acid for safety reasons after several acid attack cases got highlighted in public. Similarly, to ensure health and safety of the people, the government must come up with a mechanism to ban possession and use of known harmful chemical agents used by fruit vendors and traders. Severe punitive action against possession of the agents may prove to be a better deterrent than the raids and lifting of food samples.