There’s poison in our food

An ever-increasing population is facing a major problem of availability of safe and acceptable food. Industrial pollution and food processing and packaging is one of the prime causes of poisonous effects of food and foodstuffs. About three –fourths of the human diseases in today’s industrialized world are caused by the environmental pollutants. Foods may be contaminated by substances of synthetic as well as natural origin present in that environment. Contamination of foods may also result from chemical spill or from the process of preparation and packaging of foods as well as certain chemicals added as food additives during food processing.
Thus the major hazards from poisonous substances in food comprise: bacterial contamination naturally occurring toxins and chemical carcinogens, accidental chemical contaminants, pesticide contaminants and food additives.
Tremendous increases in fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides etc. for high agriculture yields have badly destroyed food chains and the environment. For example, indiscriminate use of DDT to kill flies and mosquitoes has caused severe undesirable side effects. Samples of bottled milk recently had almost 10 times the permissible limit of DDT.
Industrial activities are now very much concerned on food production and processing. Numerous food additives are being used for flavoring, colouring, preserving and as emulsifiers and sweeteners. These man made chemicals, instead of adding nutritive value to the food, cause health problems. In food processing plastics are used from a variety of noxious chemicals, which can leach into the food from plastic containers. These chemicals include plasticizers, cooling agents, stabilizers to heat and light, fire retardants and anti oxidants. The polymeric plastic molecules are quite reactive and poisonous compounds.
In developed nations the number of food additives used exceeds 3000. Substance like sweeteners, preservatives and cooling agents are used intentionally. Some of these additives used as fat and oil preservatives can remain in body fat for several years which can be released as toxic substances after metabolism.
The chemical additives, which were earlier considered safe, are now being found to be harmful. They include nitrates (used for meat preservations) dulein and dyclamate as sweeteners, synthetic dyes and monosodium glutamate (a flavour enhancer, used in Chinese cooking). Thus in a rising trend of using abundant processed food, we are consuming the junk food with practically very little nut ritilous value, instead allowing harmful substances with it. As Ice-cream may be only a mixture of oil and water with a very little ingredients mixed with emulsifiers and stabilizers to keep the air in and give a smooth rich feel. To control acidity of food products additives like antioxidants, preservatives, neutralizers and buffers are used. This may be due to the reason that during food processing, many of the essential vitamins and minerals get removed from the natural food stuff.
With the continuous release of a long variety of new chemicals in our environment the food chain is the worst affected and can be understood from the following facts:

Two poisons on mixing together may be more harmful than individually. Stance may accentuate the cancer-producing action of another chemical and it takes sufficiently high time to tell response to our body. The decline in cellular health is inside us .
By the time perceptible symptoms appear, it may be too late. Thus after entering contamihants in our body through food, the consequences could be severe because they will finally enter the tissues and will damage the internal body environment.
Another important contaminants in our food and water contains the harbingers of disease and infection, namely, the pathogenic microorganisms. Heavy contamination of rivers and waterways with human sewage adds on faecal bacteria. Also food acts as a factor in the spread of a epidemic diseases like enteric fever, dysentery, cholera, diphtheria , and poliomyelitis, careless handling and break down in personal and environmental hygiene ultimately results into contamination of food and thus food poisoning .
Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that imported and processed foods conform with the accepted stringent standards of quality control. Therefore, there is an international need to prevent accidental contamination of food with dangerous industrial chemicals such as occurred in the Michigan disaster involving the polybromophenyl mixture, fire master.
Written by Akmal Husain

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