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Food Frauds’ Free Run

8,June, 2017

If knife causes a bleeding cut on one’s finger or if fire causes burn injuries by setting oneself ablaze, is it prudent to curse the knife or fire? Similarly, if technology is (mis)used to manufacture plastic rice, artificial egg with toxic chemicals, produce mimic of cashew nut with an attractive price tag by using rejected pieces of groundnut from the confectionery industry, can one point the accusing finger towards technology and its inventors? Food technology, which earned Mysuru the rare distinction of hosting the nation’s and even the world’s biggest research institution some seven decades ago provides examples aplenty of generating knowledge for enterprising investors to establish food processing industries contributing substantially to their incomes as well as country’s wealth through value addition to raw materials. Further, if the street-smart entrepreneurs apply the knowledge generated through research to adulterate food and get away with their unlawful acts, one may hold the researchers responsible to a certain extent. Addition of so-called permitted colours to enhance the appeal of food products to consumers is a good enough example of the harm done to people’s health by researchers.

Buoyed by the propaganda being blared by western countries, the land’s researchers area also extolling the benefits of genetic modification of various food crops, fortification of commonly consumed foods with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients left, right and centre which do not stand scrutiny.

The original mandate, officially declared at the time of establishing the Mysuru-based food technology research institution was highly laudable and was simply stated as ‘To solve the problem of food shortages in the country through development of food technologies” or something of that order. The institute’s research teams have redeemed themselves by fulfilling that mandate through research to an appreciable extent, particularly by developing processes adding substantial value to spices, ready mixes for many traditional dishes, machinery for efficient milling of pulses, storage of food grains minimising losses and so on. The institute also invited flak from the public for developing curd from groundnut and synthetic rice from casava.

Now, the urbanites have got stumped by what has come to be described as Fast foods, a misnomer because there is no novelty about the dishes being gobbled at the roadside eateries all over the land. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has made it mandatory for food business operators to obtain Food Safety Licence. If the authorities think that the measure would address the free run of food frauds, they are only day-dreaming. The operators are too smart.

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