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Gutka more harmful than other forms of tobacco

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Gutka, a combination of arecanut, slaked lime, paraffin and katechu along with tobacco, is virtually poison. Promoted as a mouth freshener, this mixture is a combination of 4,000 chemicals of which at least 40 are carcinogenic compounds, say doctors.

People get addicted to it as gutka is reported to have stimulant and relaxation effects. While most consumers believe that the blend is not harmful, doctors, especially oncologists, say consumption of gutka is more harmful than any other form of tobacco.

This is because when a person chews gutka, the mixture directly enters the system through the oral cavity. In the case of smoking, 20 per cent of the harmful chemicals reach the lungs and 80 per cent is exhaled.

With more than 4,000 carcinogenic chemicals in it, gutka has compounds of nitorsamines, arsenic, benzopyrenes, several pesticides apart from chemicals closely associated with chlorine and ammonium compounds, says Jagannath Dixit, consultant, surgical oncologist at HCG Cancer Care Centre. Gutka also contains carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and hydrocarbons. Welcoming the government’s decision to ban gutka, Dr. Dixit says it is more dangerous than beedis. It can cause non-healing ulcerative lesions in parts of the oral cavity such as cheek, lips, tongue, hard palate, floor of the mouth and soft palate. It can also affect the food pipe, voice box and kidney, Dr. Dixit says.

Nanjundappa, Professor of Head and Neck Oncology at Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, says people commonly develop non-cancerous conditions like bronchial asthma, hypertension, heart disease and also stroke.

While narrowing of the blood vessels can cause gangrene, stoppage of blood supply in extreme cases can cause stroke. In women, consumption of gutka during pregnancy can result in low birth weight babies, he says.

“Overall, people can develop cancers of mouth, throat, lung and oesophagus; heart disease and related ailments. While most youngsters get easily addicted to it, women are in the habit of chewing tobacco or even inhaling snuff, which is even more harmful,” adds Dr. Nanjundappa.

Apart from these harmful effects, gutka can also cause loss of appetite, unusual sleep patterns and loss of concentration, the doctors add.


  • Gutka can cause loss of appetite, unusual sleep patterns and loss of concentration

It is a combination of 4,000 chemicals, of which at least 40 are carcinogenic

Categories: NEWS

30% doctors are tobacco users in India: WHO`s STUDY

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Observing World No Tobacco Dayon Friday, the doctors of social organisations and government departments called up masses to opt for life and not tobacco. People of the Sangam city, including doctors took an oath to quit tobacco product, on the occasion.

Doctors said, the World No Tobacco Day was observed across the globe every year on May 31 to encourage a 24-hour abstinence from all forms of tobacco products. The focus was laid on discouraging the habit of tobacco usage among young physicians. The habit is becoming prevalent among young docs as a WHO survey reveals around 30% doctors in India use tobacco.

Major (Dr) BP Singh, Joint Director, Medical Health told TOI "As early as 1976, it was suggested that physicians could best persuade the patients and public to quit smoking if they themselves did not smoke". He added that "Physicians are widely viewed as an example by the communities, their patients and their colleagues".

"Some of the first epidemiological research done by the WHO, demonstrating the adverse health effects of tobacco smoking was actually conducted among cohort of British physicians. So important was Doll and Hill’s 1954 study of British doctors that it was republished by the British Medical Journal 50 years later and remains to be a mile stone in public health to this day," informed Major Singh.

He further revealed, "Around 40 % of physicians in the US were smokers in 1959 but now the number has decreased to 10 %. Tobacco use among British physicians is also above 17 % with 7 % smoking pipes and cigars."

A survey by the WHO further revealed that the countries like Japan, France, Italy and New Zealand have smoking prevalence rates over 25 % and in China, 61% male physicians smoke. While in India, tobacco usage is more prevalent in young age physicians, around 30 %.

The smoking behaviour in physicians affects their professional attitude. Continued tobacco usage by the health care workers undermines the message against tobacco use.

Around 80, 000 to one lakh youngsters take up take up the habit of consuming tobacco products every day. Docs claimed that there were more than 4,000 chemical particles in smoke of tobacco which mostly led to cancer.

Dr Ashish Tandon, meanwhile, maintained strong will power and determination were two key factors to quit smoking. He said choosing not to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol significantly lowers the risk of several types of cancer and claimed, "Even if you are a tobacco user, quitting can still greatly reduce the chances of cancer".

The most important preventive measure one can take to avoid lung cancer was to quit smoking. He further added quitting smoking also reduces risk of several other types of cancer including esophagus, pancreas, larynx, and bladder cancer along with additional benefits such as low blood pressure, enhanced blood circulation, and increased lung capacity.

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Karnataka becomes 26th state to ban gutkha

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  • Health Minister U T Khader and Medical Education Minister Sharan Prakash Patil interacting with students at World No Tobacco Day programme at NIMHANS in Bangalore on Friday | Nagaraja Gadekal

    Health Minister U T Khader and Medical Education Minister Sharan Prakash Patil interacting with students at World No Tobacco Day programme at NIMHANS in Bangalore on Friday | Nagaraja Gadekal

Karnataka became the 26th state to ban sale, manufacture, storage and distribution of gutka and paan masala. The ban was announced on Friday with immediate effect. It is also in place in five union territories.

Marking World Tobacco Day, Minister of Health and Family Welfare U T Khader said: “The department will soon shut down units that manufacture these products. We are  yet to decide on the penalties to be imposed on those who fail to comply with the ban.”

Khader, however, promised areca growers that the ban will not affect their livelihood. “The quantity of local arecanut in gutka and paan masala is very less, they use imported areca. The demand for areca is only set to increase,” he said.

The move to ban comes following the Supreme Court decision to include gutka and paan masala as food products.

However, based on the Food Safety and Standards Act-2006, the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations-2011  (2.3.4) prohibit the sale of articles that contain nicotine and gutka as ingredients as they are injurious to health.

“The manufacture, storage, sale or distribution of gutka and paan masala containing tobacco or nicotine as ingredients, by whatsoever name it is available in the market, is hereby prohibited in the state with immediate effect in the interest of public health,” said a notification from V B Patil, Food Safety Commissioner, who is in-charge of the effective implementation of the regulations under the Food Safety Act.

Madan Gopal, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, said the decision was not a hasty one.

“We decided to impose it after a high power committee sat and deliberated on the issue that’s impacting millions of lives in Karnataka,” he clarified to reporters.

‘Nurses’ Row to be sorted out’

Medical Education Minister Sharan Prakash Patil said that he will soon look into the issue of the 400 plus contract nurses under the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) who were recently terminated from their services. Patil said,”The issue has been a controversial one. I will look into it on compassionate grounds and try to employ them again,” he said.

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Pesticide residue management cell under Delhi’s food safety chief soon

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Following the Delhi High Court’s recent suo motu notice asking food regulators to check the percentage of pesticide residue in fruits and vegetables sold in the national capital, an Expert Panel has recommended the formation of Pesticide Residue Management Cell  under the Food Safety Commissioner Delhi to monitor and check the menace.

The matter is now listed for August 17 when the court will take a decision on the issue.

Sources with the Expert Panel told FnB News that for this, the panel has suggested for taking APMC Delhi in the loop as it handles the trade of fruits and vegetables and is equipped with a lab facility.
“APMC has a major role to play as it handles the trade of fruits and vegetables and has responsibility for the quality of agri produce,” the member said.

The panel also suggested intensifying the checking and sampling of collection of fruits and vegetables and expansion of lab facilities in the city to regulate and monitor the level of pesticide residue level on a regular basis.

Experts feel that the court would take a decision on August 17, only by then the formalities of settling up the cell would commence.

Meanwhile, when contacted, Rajendra Sharma, chairman, Delhi APMC, said that he would comply by the decision taken by the court. He told that there was a lab facility near Vidhan Sabha, which did the sample collection on daily basis to see the levels of pesticide residue.

“Let us see what the court has to say. There is already a mechanism in place involving experts,” he said.

Earlier survey
Pesticides are still being used to protect fruit and vegetables from insect attacks three years after a survey by Consumer Voice, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), revealed that the fruit and vegetables being sold in markets in New Delhi are a cocktail of pesticides. The failure of the government and the regulatory authorities to take action against the culprits has become very evident.

Some of these pesticides have, in fact, been banned, because they are capable of doing more harm in the long run than merely affecting the soil. A host of side-effects as loss of weight and appetite, irritability and insomnia, behavioural disorders, and diseases such as skin problems cancer, heart disease, infertility and ailments affecting the liver, kidneys, lungs and the nervous system are on the rise owing to the cultivation and consumption of the pesticide-laden fruit and vegetables.

Ashok Kanchan, advisor (technical), Consumer Voice, confirmed this, stating, “We undertook a study and came up with a report on the presence of pesticides in fruit and vegetables which cause cancers in November 2010. But even after three years, no action has been taken by the government and food regulators against those involved in the malpractice.”

Consumer Voice’s report
During its November 2010 survey, Consumer Voice tested 193 samples of 35 vegetables. These did not only fall foul of the Indian standards, but also violated the stringent standards laid down by the European Union (EU). Tests revealed the presence of banned pesticides such as chlordane, endrin and ethyl parathion in bitter gourd and heptachor in spinach.

The NGO also conducted tests on fresh seasonal vegetables to assess the level of pesticides in them. While some samples were purchased from five different localities of New Delhi, others were bought from other metropolitan cities across the country. In the capital, the retail outlets chosen were situated near the five mandis (wholesale markets), to which fresh vegetables are transported in bulk. These fresh vegetables are then transported to various retail outlets across the city for sale.

The survey by NGO Consumer Voice on pesticides in vegetables revealed the following:

Objectives of the study on pesticides in vegetables

  • To examine the total level of pesticides used in the individual vegetable as per the maximum residue limit (MRL) of permitted pesticides;
  • To identify the quantity of the level of pesticides used in the fresh vegetables;
  • To identify pesticides which are banned due to their potential toxicity impacts;
  • To spread awareness among consumers on presence of pesticides in fresh vegetables and their possible toxic effects, and
  • To allay fear and anxiety prevailing in consumers’ minds about safety of daily items of consumption

Comparison of Indian and EU maximum residue limit (MRL) of some pesticides in vegetables

Legal provisions 
Section 21 of the Food Safety and Standard Act (FSSA), 2006 states that:
No article of food shall contain insecticide or pesticide residues, veterinary drug residues, antibiotic residues, solvent residues, pharmacological active substances and micro-biological counts in excess of such tolerance limits as may be specified by the regulations, and

No insecticide shall be used directly on articles of food, except fumigants registered and approved under the Insecticides Act, 1968.

Imprisonment and fine

  • Section 50 of the Food Safety and Standard Act-2006 states that any person who sells to the purchaser’s prejudice any food which is not in compliance with the provisions of this Act, or the regulations made thereunder, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding Rs 5 lakh, and
  • Whoever uses an insecticide in contravention of any provisions of the Insecticides Act, 1968, or any rule made thereunder, shall be punishable with upto six months imprisonment and a fine ranging between Rs 500 and Rs 5,000

Reasons for the pesticide menace

  • Indiscriminate use of chemical pesticide;
  • Lack of awareness on the part of farmers with regards to judicious use of chemical pesticides;
  • Non-observance of prescribed waiting periods, incorrect application techniques, more use of recommended dosages;
  • Use of sub-standard pesticides, and
  • Wrong advice to farmers by pesticides dealers

Consumer Voice’s report on pesticides in fruit
In tropical countries like India, the possibility of damage is high due to the hot and humid weather. In order to examine and assess the level of various pesticides present in fruit, Consumer Voice conducted tests for pesticides in fresh seasonal fruit.

Objectives of the study on pesticides in fruit

  • Identify and quantity of the level of pesticides used in fresh fruit;
  • Examine the total level of pesticides used in the individual fruits as per maximum residual limit (MRL) of permitted pesticides;
  • Identify pesticides which are banned due to their potential toxicity impacts, and
  • Spread awareness among the consumers and society on presence of pesticides in fresh fruits and possible toxic effects

Remedies to minimise pesticides impact on human health

  • Education to farmers about the judicious use of chemical pesticides and adopting good agricultural practices and ill-effects of indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides
  • Awareness about the harmful effects of chemical pesticides, especially to farmers as they and their families would be exposed to it first
  • Monitoring and re-evaluation of the pesticide residue limit in the food chain by the ministry of health and family welfare
  • Reviewing and reduction of the pesticide residue limits by the government
  • Increasing the punishment besides fines, incorporating stringent provisions of punishment to all offenders in the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006, including manufacturers, importers, dealers, retailers and farmers, and
  • Use of bio-pesticides to be encouraged. To encourage the use of bio-pesticides, farmers should be given assistance/subsidies by the government.

Effect of pesticides
Bhopal gas tragedy

In 1984, the Bhopal gas tragedy occurred when the Union Carbide plant released 40 tonne of methyl isocyanate gas, a chemical intermediate in the synthesis of some pesticides. The disaster immediately killed nearly 3,000 people and ultimately caused at least 15,000 deaths.

Kerala’s endosulfan disaster
The chemical endosulfan came into spotlight in Kasargod, Kerala. It was sprayed aerially and the local populations of many villages were exposed to it. What followed was very shocking. It led to physical and mental defects in poor farmers and their families.

Studies have shown endosulfan to accumulate in mother’s breast milk, and it has been linked to birth defects such as cleft lip, the likes of which are still being observed at Kasaragod. Endosulfan is mainly used in apples, grapes, pears, peaches and other fruit.

Categories: NEWS

Street play teaches food safety lessons

1,June, 2013 2 comments
  • Members of Saral Maiyam theatre group performing on Marina Beach on Thursday

  • Members of Saral Maiyam theatre group performing on Marina Beach on Thursday

Eating at a hotel and you suspect that food safety standards have not been adhered to? Do you know you can submit a sample of the food item at an accredited laboratory and, if the tests reveal adulteration or contamination, lodge a complaint with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) under the new Food Safety and Standards Act 2006?

According to Kalyani Rajaraman, project manager, Consumer Association of India (CAI), the new Act seeks to ensure better consumer safety through food safety management systems and set standards based on science and transparency. And, for the first time in the country, the CAI in partnership with FSSAI has piloted a ‘mass contact education programme on food safety, standards and unsafe food’ in Tamil Nadu to clear the ambiguity surrounding the Act and promote safe food practices among food business operators (FBOs).

For the CAI the challenge lies in the fact that FBOs in the State are reluctant to accept the Act, while consumers are unaware of the meaning of safe food. A survey conducted among 745 consumers in both urban and rural areas in July 2012 shows that knowledge about the law is practically absent (93 per cent) among both consumers and the youth segment, Kalyani pointed out. “Only 12 per cent have ever registered a complaint against adulterated and unsafe food and most often the complaint is made to the shopkeeper himself,” she said.

Hence the CAI, along with FSSAI, has embarked upon a mass contact programme to create awareness about the “empowered role of consumers”. An audio-visual van – Food Safety Express – traversed 620 locations across Chennai, Vellore, Madurai, Tiruchy and Coimbatore, carrying the message of food safety to nearly three lakh consumers. “We have also identified and trained 60 food safety champions from the five districts, 1,500 consumers and 300 FBOs,” the consumer rights activist said.

The association has also engaged a theatre group, Saral Maiyam, to stage street plays to get consumers’ attention. “We have to serve people from all walks of life and we are using traditional folk arts to attract the common man. Short films and radio spots have been created to impact the ‘elite’ using electronic media, while rallies have been planned to get school students into the loop,” Kalyani said.

On Thursday, the 12-member group staged a street play on the Marina, drawing a sizeable crowd with their drumbeats and foot-tapping music of folk dances like thapattam, oyilattam and kambattam. Through dialogue and song they showed how consumers were being taken for a ride and cautioned them to be vigilant.

“The entire play was very informative. I wasn’t aware of this Act and the role of the consumer in it. This was worth my time,” said Guna, one of many who witnessed the play.

The motivation for the entire programme, according to Kalyani, is the lack of awareness among consumers despite the Act being enforced in 2011. “So far in the city we have witnessed a good turnout with that in Koyambedu market being overwhelming.”

Categories: NEWS

பான்பராக், குட்காவிற்கு தடை விதிக்கப்படும்: முதல்வர் சித்தராமையா

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விரைவில் பான்பராக், குட்கா போன்ற பொருள்களுக்கு தடைவிதிக்கப்படும் என்று கர்நாடக முதல்வர் சித்தராமையா தெரிவித்தார்.

இது குறித்து அவர் வெள்ளிக்கிழமை செய்தியாளர்களிடம் கூறியது: கர்நாடகத்தில் விரைவில் பான்பராக், குட்கா ஆகியவை விற்பனை செய்ய தடை விதிக்கப்படும். இதனையும், பாக்கு விவசாயிகள் பிரச்னையும் முடிச்சு போடவேண்டாம். பான்பராக், குட்கா போன்ற தடை விதிப்பதால், பாக்கு விற்பனைக்கும் தடை விதிக்கப்படும் என்ற பொருள் இல்லை. அது வேறு, இது வேறு. உச்சநீதிமன்றத்தின் உத்தரவின் பேரில் குட்கா போன்ற பொருள்களுக்கு கர்நாடகத்தில் தடைவிதிக்க முடிவு செய்யப்பட்டுள்ளது. இது போன்று 20 மாநிலங்களில் குட்கா பொருள்கள் விற்க தடை உள்ளது. அதனை கர்நாடகத்திலும் பின்பற்ற முடிவு செய்யப்பட்டுள்ளது என்றார் அவர்.

Categories: NEWS