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FSSAI constitutes Panel on Food Fortification and Nutrition

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has constituted a Panel on Food Fortification and Nutrition to identify critical nutritional gaps in the Indian diet in general and also in specific target groups.

The 11 member panel will frame final regulations on fortification of foods and prepare strategies to address malnutrition problem.

Key Facts
  • The Panel will identify critical nutritional gaps in the Indian diet in general and also in specific target groups based on credible scientific evidence and diet surveys.
  • It will review the standards required for all suitable food fortifying vehicles in addition to healthy dietary intake of sugar, fat and salt.
  • It will define strategies to address nutritional needs of general population and vulnerable groups.
  • It will also address regulatory and related technological issues, review proposals from industry using modern risk assessment methods.
  • It will also prescribe standard test and sampling methods for effective surveillance, monitoring and enforcement of the relevant regulations.
What is Food fortification?

Food fortification is the process of adding micronutrients i.e. essential trace elements and vitamins into the food. It is an integrated approach to prevent micronutrient deficiencies and complements other approaches to improve health and nutrition. This enrichment process has proven as an effective strategy to meet the nutritional needs of a large number of people across various sections of the society, including the poor and underprivileged, pregnant women and young children.

What are advantages of Food fortification?

Food fortification does not require changes in existing food habits and patterns nor individual compliance. It does not alter characteristics of food and is socio-culturally acceptable. It can be introduced quickly and can produce nutritional benefits and improve health of people in a short period of time. It also safe and cost effective.

About FSSAI

FSSAI is a nodal statutory agency responsible for protecting and promoting public health in India through the regulation and supervision of food safety. FSSAI was established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and operates under aegis of Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

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Toxins in litchi fruit may kill children

Scientists from US and India have found that consumption of litchi fruit on an empty stomach can result in very low blood glucose level and acute encephalopathy leading to seizures and coma, and causes death in Children in many cases.

Litchi fruit contains the toxins hypoglycin A and methylenecyclopropyl-glycine (MCPG). Its consumption and skipping evening meals causes very low blood glucose level (less than normal 70 mg/dL) and acute encephalopathy in children.

Background

Outbreaks of high fever followed by seizures and death in young children were reported in poor socio-economic backgrounds in rural Muzaffarpur in Bihar and other litchi-growing regions in India due to consumption of unripe lychees on an empty stomach. In 2014, fever and convulsions had killed 122 and hospitalised 390 children within three weeks in Muzaffarpur. All the sick children had eaten litchis without eating evening meal and had developed high fever, seizures and convulsions followed by coma before daybreak.

Key Facts
  • Unripened litchi contains Hypoglycin A, naturally-occurring amino acid that causes severe vomiting (Jamaican vomiting sickness).
  • MCPG is a poisonous compound found in litchi seeds that cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, vomiting, altered mental status with lethargy, unconsciousness, coma and death.
  • These toxins may block enzymes involved in normal glucose metabolism and result in an inability to synthesis glucose leading to acutely low level of blood sugar.
  • The build-up of other metabolic by-products can also have an adverse effect (encephalopathy) on the child.

Remedies: Dextrose therapy (giving children sugar to normalize their rapidly plummeting blood glucose levels), minimising litchi consumption, eating evening meal throughout the outbreak period, implementing rapid glucose correction for suspected illness.

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Browned toast and potatoes are ‘potential cancer risk: Scientists

According to scientists from Food Standards Agency (FSA) of United Kingdom, chips, potatoes and bread cooked to brown can cause cancer.

According to FSA when the starchy foods are roasted, grilled or fried for too long at high temperatures (above 120 degree Celsius), it produces carcinogenic chemical Acrylamide.

What is Acrylamide?

Acrylamide is a chemical used primarily in making polyacrylamide and acrylamide copolymers that are used in industrial processes such as a production of dyes, plastics, paper. It is also used in treatment of drinking water and waste water. 

How does cooking produce Acrylamide?

Acrylamide is present in many types of food such biscuits, cakes, bread, coffee, toast, crisps, chips, and other starchy food. It is a natural byproduct of the cooking process. It is produced when Asparagine, a building block of proteins found in many vegetables is heated to high temperatures in the presence of certain sugars. Cooking methods such as baking, frying, grilling, roasting mainly results in production of acrylamide. The darker the colour gets of the food, more acrylamide is present in it.

Potential health hazards of Acrylamide

Some researches in animals have shown that the chemical Acrylamide is toxic to DNA and causes cancer. Although there is no conclusive evidence but same can be applicable in the case of people. It can also have adverse effects on the reproductive and nervous systems.

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