Tasty and palatable food has been the centre of focus for all mom’s to win the heart of their children and even more importantly, just to make them eat food. Thank goodness that now a lot of variety is available to chose from. But it comes with a price of spoiling the health of the child. Junk foods containing sugar, white flour, trans fat, preservatives among others are known to affect the health of children in a negative way making them obese and leading to lifestyle diseases.
Food packaging began with an idea to make contamination free food available to the masses living far from the farms.
Government agencies are trying hard to ensure that the food supply chains are well monitored and strictly regulated to provide the best and healthy food.
Very high standard of hygiene is maintained in processing and packaging of food to ensure zero contamination. Well equipped labs to test food, GMP (Good manufacturing practices), well trained personnel are all in place at the manufacturing unit.
While the same cannot be said for open food sold in the market. Open cut fruits, cooked foods, snacks etc can easily get contaminated from the open environment.
Most of us avoid eating such foods unless served in a hygienic restaurant or cafe as the awareness in educated community in urban areas is high. Still there are two major problems lingering around:
1. People living in developing countries, smaller towns, villages and slums of big cities still consume such foods which are cooked, processed or served in unhygienic environment.
An estimated 600 million — almost 1 in 10 people in the world — fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420 000 die every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years.Out if which diarrhoeal diseases alone accounts for 550 million people falling ill and 230,000 deaths every year. Sadly a huge burden is borne by children under 5 years with 125,000 deaths every year.
2. The second and more dangerous problem is the use of food additives which are not yet fully evaluated regarding their safety and damage they may cause in our body. At least thousands of chemicals are used as flavouring agents, colouring agents, preservatives, emulsifiers, taste enhancers, aroma enhancers, texture enhancers, garnishing agents and the list goes on.
Some of these substances used for decades are now found to be very dangerous for human health. Some of the widely debated food additives include ‘trans fat’, ‘MSG – Mono Sodium Glutamate’, ‘TBHQ’ etc. Some countries have banned the use of Trans Fat while there is no regulation in India yet. MSG is widely found in foods like Chinese foods, Pizzas, Soups, Biryani and now a days even sambhar. TBHQ is a suspected carcinogen but is still used by leading food chains to enhance customer experience.
The best way to make money by a food company is by making its food addictive and that has been the focus of most food corporates. We pay from out wallets and our health.
If your children don’t want to eat healthy food, it is better to starve them to let them feel really hungry so that they enjoy every bite of it. Trying to play it easy by serving them what they like (packaged/ processed foods loaded with ingredients we do not understand) or rather what they are made to like by food corporations, is to push them towards dangerous diseases. No mom will do it knowingly and since you know it now, it’s time to act.
There is a lot of research which points at the role of good bacteria in our body to tackle bad bacteria that may cause infection. A good way to ensure the presence of good bacteria in the body would be to consume healthy probiotic fermented foods and prebiotic high fiber foods.
This food safety day, let’s pledge to
1. Ensure we eat healthy and hygienic foods.
2. Avoid those foods whose ingredients or processing methods you are unsure of. Best way to achieve this is by consuming only those foods which you can buy from farmers directly.
3. Work on strengthening our immune system. Always remember ‘Host – our body’ is more important than the ‘Guest – bacteria and micro organisms’.
Let’s make our food supply chain safe and healthy.
Nutritionist, Entrepreneur, International Speaker.