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Well oiled ‘cracked egg racket’ comes to surface

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During routine inspection, food officials stumble on a supply network of damaged eggs, which poses a major health issue

Madurai is renowned for its non-vegetarian food, and egg is a staple item in a majority of the restaurants and roadside eateries in the city. It is common to see order takers in these places nudging their customers to go for omelette, scrambled egg or a bull’s eye, presumably due to the high profit margin in egg-based items.

However, a series of raids by Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department (FSDA) has revealed that eating egg-based food, either cooked or baked, is not safe. Ahead of Deepavali, what began as a raid to identify adulteration in preparation of sweets and savouries has led FSDA officials to stumble on an well-oiled supply network of cracked and damaged eggs, which poses a major health issue.

M. Somasundaram, Designated Officer, Food Safety, says the racket surfaced while they were inspecting a large manufacturing unit of bakery items and snacks at Melakkal last Friday. “A foul smell came from nowhere and we traced it to an area where a large number of trays of eggs were stored. A closer look revealed that all were cracked and damaged,” he says.

This startling discovery led to focused raids and the trail led to three egg wholesalers, eight large manufacturing units of bakery items and number of small eateries that dealt with damaged eggs. While some have been closed, others were served notices.

According to the officials, damaged eggs collected from poultry farms and eggs that develop cracks during transportation are collected separately and sold to ‘dealers’ who specialise in selling them in bulk. In most cases, this racket originates in Namakkal itself. Trucks exclusively transporting damaged eggs from Namakkal, a place famous for its poultry farms, reach godowns of wholesalers from where they are taken by agents for supply down the chain.

While bulk supplies go to select bakery units, there is also demand for such eggs in smaller eateries. “We found five outlets around Arappalayam bus stand using these eggs,” an official said.

In huge bakery units, these eggs are mainly used in cakes and macaroons, and for coating on puffs, called ‘egg wash’ to give the golden sheen. “Many small bakeries in the city do not make products in-house. They get a regular supply of various products from these nondescript big units, where usage of cracked eggs is rampant,” the official says.

In eateries

In eateries, they are used in a variety of egg-based dishes, including egg parotta and scrambled eggs (muttai poriyal), the officials say. While the exact price at which these cracked eggs are sold is hard to come by, officials say it should be one-third or one-fourth of the regular price.

Dr. Somasundaram says cracked eggs are prone to a variety of infections from bacteria and other micro organisms such as pseudomonas and salmonella. “Eggs, once the shell cracks, must be eaten within couple of hours. At home, you can pour the egg in a vessel and use it after a few more hours if refrigerated. However, in this supply chain of cracked eggs, they are often used after a day or two,” he says.

While food poisoning is the common ailment, eating such eggs could also lead to other gastric illnesses and infectious diseases. A majority of the food poisoning cases go unreported. Hence it is difficult to correlate. However, the health risks are indeed huge,” he says.

Welcoming the crackdown, G. Gomathinayagam, secretary, Federation of Consumer Rights Organisation of Tamil Nadu, says officials must expand the search to other districts. “This could be a State-wide phenomenon. A concerted effort is needed throughout Tamil Nadu to control this menace. The suppliers and manufacturing units must be given stringent punishment so that it acts as a deterrent for others,” he says.

An awareness must be created among public to take utmost caution while having food outside homes and they must also exercise their rights as consumers. “A district-level committee with representatives from different walks of life must be constituted by FSDA. It has not been done in many districts,” he says.

“Not possible”

S. Anburajan, president, Tamil Nadu Bakers’ Federation, however, denies the allegations of rampant usage of cracked eggs in bakery units. “Once an egg develops cracks, it gets rotten soon. Rotten eggs cannot be used in cakes or puffs,” he says.

However, periodic training and awareness programmes are organised for members of their federation to sensitise them on risks involved in using cracked eggs and other substandard ingredients, he says. “We also educate them on rules and regulations that govern the industry,” he says.

Categories: NEWS

கோவையில் குட்கா பறிமுதல்

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Categories: Coimbatore, DISTRICT-NEWS

Natural food has to be natural: FSSAI

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NEW DELHI: Food companies cannot use words such as ‘natural’, ‘fresh’, ‘original’, ‘traditional’, ‘pure’, ‘authentic’, ‘genuine’ and ‘real’ on the labels unless the product is not processed in any manner except washed, peeled, chilled and trimmed or put through other processing which could alter its basic characteristics, as per new regulations of Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) that will be notified in the coming days.

Companies using terms which could mean ‘natural’, ‘fresh’, ‘original’, ‘traditional’, ‘pure’, ‘authentic’, ‘genuine’ and ‘real’ as their brand name or trade mark will have to give a clear disclaimer stating “this is only a brand name or trade mark and does not represent its true nature”, the regulation stipulates. “We are fully supportive of FSSAI’s efforts to improve nutritional standards in India. Along with the rest of the F&B industry, we are engaging with them to have robust regulations in place,” a spokesperson for HUL said.

The regulation also lays down criteria for certain claims which food companies can make in their advertising and promotions such as nutrition claims, non-addition claims (including non-addition of sugarsNSE -2.18 % and sodium salts), health claims, claims related to dietary guidelines or healthy diets and conditional claims. Packaged food companies cannot advertise products as complete meal replacement or undermine the importance of healthy lifestyle.

In case an advertiser wants to make claims for which regulations have not been specified in, they will have to seek approval from the authority. The new regulation prohibits food businesses from advertising or making claims undermining the products of other manufacturers as to promote their own products or influence consumer behaviour. There are strict penalty provisions for those misleading consumers.

Categories: NEWS

FSSAI bans animal-origin silver leaf in confectionary

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There are apprehensions of silver leaf not being of desired purity and containing dangerous metallic impurities.

The glittery delicate silver leaves used on sweets and confectionery will be under scanner as food regulatory body, Food Safety and Standards Association of India (FSSAI) has asked states, including J&K to ensure the leaf used is not of animal origin.

The order is an extension of its earlier order issued in 2016 which had banned use of materials of animal origin in the manufacturing of chandi ka warq (silver leaf). “It (silver leaf) should not be manufactured using any material of animal origin at any stage and be in accordance with provisions of Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011, and Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011” the order had stated, directing states to submit action-taken-report of surveillance to FSSAI at earliest.

There are apprehensions of silver leaf not being of desired purity and containing dangerous metallic impurities. FSSAI has directed states to use its manual to detect the purity of this popular garnish used in confectionery industry.

The regulation has also specified the specifications of silver leaf. “It should be in the form of a sheet of uniform thickness, free from creases and folds. The weight of the silver leaf should be up to 2.8g/sq m, and silver content should be of minimum 999/1,000 fineness.”

Categories: NEWS

Now, packaged foods industry will have to be true to its words

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FSSAI to notify claims and advertisement regulations soon

 

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will soon notify its final regulations on claims and advertisements for the packaged foods industry. This is aimed at making companies more accountable for their health and nutritional claims to protect consumer interest.

The regulator, on Tuesday, also released the interim findings of its milk survey. Less than 10 per cent of the 6,432 samples tested were found to have contaminants such as residues of pesticides (1.2 per cent), antibiotics, aflatoxin and ammonium sulphate.

Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, said: “We will soon notify the regulations on claims and advertisements, which have got the final approvals from the Health Ministry.”

Through these regulations, FSSAI aims to put restrictions on the use of certain words on food labels — such as natural, fresh, original, traditional, premium, finest, best, authentic, genuine, and real — unless the products meet specific conditions.

With the implementation of these regulations, packaged food companies will need to ensure that any claims regarding nutritional or health attributes about their products are scientifically substantiated.

In addition, they will need to ensure that product advertisements do not suggest that their products were a complete meal replacement, or undermine the importance of healthy lifestyles.

The regulations will define norms for nutrient-content claims and those regarding non-addition of salt and sugar, besides specifying standardised statements for health claims for food companies.

Milk survey

Meanwhile, the food safety regulator released interim finding of the National Milk Quality Survey 2018, which stated that only 12 of the 6,432 samples collected were found to have adulterants such as detergents urea and hydrogen peroxide that affect the safety of milk.

Milk samples were also tested for 18 pesticides, 93 antibiotics and veterinary drugs, aflatoxin M1 and ammonium sulphate. “Less than 10 per cent (638 out of 6,432 samples) had contaminants that make milk unsafe for consumption. In all these cases, milk is getting contaminated due to poor quality of feed, poor farm practices, and irresponsible use of antibiotics… But it is restricted to a few pockets and in some States, and these can be addressed through targeted awareness-building initiatives,” FSSAI stated.

Agarwal, however, added that currently there are no regulations for ammonium sulphate in milk, and that FSSAI will consider if tolerance limits needed to be set.

The survey findings also raise concerns regarding quality parameters of milk. “About 19.6 per cent (1,261) samples did not meet the set limits for SNF. In another 3.4 per cent (218 samples) of the total samples, sugar and maltodextrin was found to be added,” it stated.

Agarwal said that quality issues were higher in raw milk compared to processed milk, and may depend on the breed of cattle, dilution through water, or rearing practices. “But we were surprised to find non-compliance of quality parameters in processed milk also. We will take this up with the processed milk companies and look at setting up a robust monitoring mechanism,” he added.

Categories: NEWS

Food regulator says 90% milk sold in India safe

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Categories: NEWS

பிரசாத ஸ்டால்களில் ஆய்வு

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FSSAI ORDER

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Categories: NEWS

Imported pulses safe : FSSAI

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The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Thursday said that imported pulses and beans are safe and that based on tests conducted in the past one month it has found no reason for concern regarding the presence of glyphosate in these commodities.

Earlier, FSSAI had instructed its import offices at ports to start monitoring the presence of glyphosate in pulses and beans as these are mainly imported through Mumbai, Chennai and Tuticorin ports.

“After the order dated 12.10.18, monthly data pertaining to glyphosate level in pulses received from ports directly handled by FSSAI was analysed and it has been observed that of the 319 consignments tested, glyphosate residues were found in only 7 consignments and that too were within the prescribed Maximum Residue Levels,” FSSAI it added.

Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI said the food safety regulator will continue monitoring imported pulses for some time till “it is established for sure that there are no residues of glyphosate in imported pulses.”

FSSAI had also directed testing of glyphosate levels in imported pulses as per Codex standards as India does not have its own standards for residue levels in pulses.

Categories: NEWS