Archive for March, 2019

Concert–Press News

29,March, 2019 Comments off

Healthcare Concerns of Consumers


Consumers Association of India is pleased to invite you to a workshop on Healthcare Concerns of Consumers to be held on Saturday, 30thMarch 2019 at Neuberg Ehrlich Clinical Laboratories, 46,48 Masilamani Road, Balaji Nagar,Chennai. between 9.30 a.m. and 1.30 a.m. followed by lunch.


Healthcare is an essential part of every consumer’s life and every consumer looks for healthcare at an affordable cost.  However, is this possible today?  Why is the cost of Healthcare rising in India? How can healthcare costs be brought down? Is Medical insurance the answer to all these questions? These are some of the issues that will be discussed at this workshop by our distinguished panel of speakers.  We invite you to come, participate and give publicity to the proceedings of this important workshop.


This workshop is being organised in association with Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Chennai and Neuberg Diagnostics, Chennai. The workshop will be inaugurated by Ms.Sudha Seshayyan, Hon’ble Vice Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University.Speakers  at the inaugural session include Dr G K. Velu of Neuberg Diagnostics and Mr. Umanath I.A.S., Managing  Director, Tamilnadu Medical Services Corportion. We have also planned a panel discussion with several experts addressing many  healthcare concerns of consumers.  Panelists include representatives from the insurance industry, representatives from the diagnostic services industry, a legal expert and a consumer activist.


Do come, participate in the proceedings and help us in our efforts to disseminate information

to make consumers aware.



Nirmala Desikan


Consumers Association of India & The CONCERT Trust
32, Kohinoor Complex
Vettuvankeni, Chennai 600115
Ph:   044 24494575/77
Fax: 044 24492140
Invitation 1Invitation
Categories: NEWS

Special drive to check juice and soft drink outlets in Kozhikode

28,March, 2019 Comments off

Kozhikode: Health and food safety officials have decided to commence a special drive to check the juice and soft drinks outlets that have sprang up on roadsides in the summer. The health department has directed the local self-government bodies to conduct a special drive covering makeshift juice outlets in the wake of spike in hepatitis A and diarrhoea cases.

The health department has also directed the public to keep vigil while consuming fresh juice items and soft drinks from cool bars and wayside juice shops. The direction was given after observing the number of temporary juice stalls selling bottled water, lemon juice, ‘sambaram’ (spiced butter milk), sugarcane juice and ‘kulukki sarbat’ are on the rise in the district.

Not only the local self-government bodies, but the food safety department too has commenced inspections covering eateries across the district. The food safety officials, during the inspections, are directing eatery outlet owners to replace block ice with cube ice to ensure that the ice using for the preparation of juice and soft drinks is free from contamination. Consumption of contaminated water and juice results in waterborne diseases such as hepatitis A and diarrhoea.

According to the health department officials, 27 Hepatitis A cases have been reported from various parts of the district from January 1 to March 23, 2019. A total of 12,469 diarrhoea cases and one death have been reported from various parts of the district from January 1 to March 23, 2019. As many as 144 Hepatitis A cases, 52,415 diarrhoea cases and one death were reported in 2018.

Dr Ashadevi, additional district medical officer (public health), said that consumption of juice and soft drinks made of contaminated water is one of the major causes for the increase in number of hepatitis A and diarrhoea cases in the district. “Public should be very cautious when they consume fresh juice from wayside makeshift eatery outlets and the shop owners should use only good quality ice for the preparation of such items,” said the ADMO adding that ensuring personal hygiene is the best available option to keep away from water-borne diseases.

Corporation health officer Dr R S Gopakumar said that the civic body has already issued instructions to licenced cool bars and shops to make use of cube ice and safe drinking water to prepare juice items and soft drinks. “The special drive covering ice-manufacturing factories and units and wayside juice shops will commence on April 1,” he said.

Meanwhile, P K Eliyamma, assistant commissioner, food safety, Kozhikode, said that the drive to inspect ice manufacturing outlets will commence next month.

Categories: NEWS

Food safety dept urged to check artificial ripening

28,March, 2019 Comments off

Trichy: The food safety department was urged to conduct frequent inspections and sensitization drives to prevent artificial ripening of mangoes since it is difficult for the common man to differentiate it from the naturally ripened mangoes.

"A section of traders use chemicals to artificially ripen the mangos as the demand is very high. The food safety officials should sensitise the traders to ensure the quality of fruits," S Vadivel, a resident of Subramaniapuram, said. Mangoes have been decked up in supermarkets and small shops, but the residents said that the eagerness to taste mangos is on back foot owing to the fear of being end up in buying artificially ripened poor quality fruit.

Calcium carbide stones can ripen mangos in a day and it is convenient for the traders due to its easy availability. They can obtain it from even from welding and hardware shops for a meagre price. "We have seized tonnes of artificially ripened mangoes in the previous years. Since such seizure would bring big loss to the traders, such acts have come down over the years," an official with food safety department said. The department has promised to increase the vigil to prevent artificial ripening of fruits. Officials said that artificial ripening could be identified only if they seize carbide stone along with mangos. "It is very difficult to differentiate between artificially ripened and naturally ripened mangoes without tasting them," the official said. The department has planned to focus on the shops in Gandhi Market and other places across the city.

Categories: NEWS

Ice cream or unhealthy frozen dessert, what are you having?

28,March, 2019 Comments off

Indore: Next time you buy ice cream, be extra careful. You might get duped and end buying an unhealthy frozen desert instead of ice-cream.

Frozen dessert is actually mixture of milk powder, vegetable oil and artificial sweeteners unlike ice cream which is made of milk.

Ahead of summers, food department has started a special drive against sale of frozen dessert claiming to be ice cream. According to food inspector Manish Swami, on directions of ADM Ajaydev Sharma, food and drug administration department is conducting special drive against ice creams and frozen desserts in city. It has been found that several companies, who sell ice creams, are actually frozen desserts.

He added that as per Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) ice cream is prepared by freezing pasteurized mix prepared from milk or products derived from milk. It must be free of artificial sweeteners. While dessert that doesn’t have milk products and requires freezing a pasteurized mix prepared with milk fat and/or edible vegetable oils and fat, and milk or vegetable protein, or a combination of both are frozen desserts.

He claimed that around nine samples of frozen desserts and ice creams have been seized from several brand depots in Annapurna and Rajendra Nagar. Usually ice cream family packs, which are worth Rs 55, are frozen desserts and the ones with price tag of Rs 120 and above are actual ice creams as they are made of milk. However, nowadays even frozen desserts are being sold at higher rates. Swami said department will start extensive drive againstsoft drinks and ice balls.

A palate test is an easy way to tell ice creams from frozen desserts. "The taste of frozen desserts lingers long after you have it whereas once you’ve gobbled ice cream, flavour leaves you," said Swami.

Categories: NEWS

Order – Inspections, monitoring and sampling of fruits and vegetables

28,March, 2019 Comments off

Categories: NEWS

A chemical found in burned, charred, and toasted foods has been linked to cancer. Here’s how worried you should be.

28,March, 2019 Comments off

  • The chemical acrylamide is found in fried, baked, and roasted foods like coffee and french fries.
  • Because acrylamide was discovered in food somewhat recently, we don’t have any concrete answers about whether it causes cancer, but scientists are uncovering evidence of a potential link.
  • California coffee shops are now required to post warnings about acrylamide in their brews.
  • Existing research suggests that acrylamide is only dangerous in extremely high doses that are unlikely to be encountered by humans.

Scientists are constantly making new discoveries about the relationship between food and cancer.

The International Journal of Cancer recently published a study saying that the frequent consumption of very hot tea could increase the risk of esophageal cancer. Other studies have warned about consuming red meat, which has been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, and eating sugary foods, which act as fuel for cancer cells.Read more: 33 of the most dangerous things science has strongly linked to cancer

Even the way we process foods can have major health implications.

For more than 15 years, scientists have wondered whether consuming acrylamide – a chemical found in burned, charred, and toasted food – has a negative effect on human health. Foods with higher levels of acrylamide include popular items like coffee and french fries, as well as grain-based foods like toast and breakfast cereal.

Because acrylamide was discovered in food somewhat recently, we don’t have any concrete answers about whether it causes cancer, but recent studies have brought us closer to understanding the potential risk.

What is acrylamide, and does it cause cancer?

The discovery of acrylamide dates back about two decades.

In the late 1990s, workers on the Hallandsås Tunnel in Sweden began to experience nausea, dizziness, and a prickling sensation in their fingers. Shortly after, fish in rivers near the tunnel began to die, and cows that had consumed that water became paralyzed. Scientists discovered that the workers and animals had all been exposed to acrylamide, which seeped into the ground and surface water during construction.In 2002, scientists learned that acrylamide was also present in starchy foods like bread, cookies, and potato chips. Today it can be found in more than one-third of the calories consumed in Europe and the US.

Food that is fried, baked, or roasted at high temperatures undergoes a process called a Maillard reaction that causes it to brown (think of the golden crust on a baguette or the charred exterior of a roasted marshmallow). This reaction has the potential to form acrylamide in small doses.

Thus far, studies have only shown that acrylamide leads to cancer in rats and mice that get exposed to the chemical at much higher doses than what humans would encounter. In its latest risk assessment, the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) said that the results from those animal studies "are indicative of a health concern."

Food safety advocates have expressed particular concern about the presence ofacrylamide in baby food, since children are more susceptible than adults to cancer-causing chemicals. A 2012 study in Poland found that certain infants were more than a dozen times more exposed to acrylamide in commercial baby food than the average population.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lists acrylamide as a "probable carcinogen," but is still working to determine the link between cancer and acrylamide-containing food.

In March, a collaborative study led by the organization found that acrylamide can produce signature genetic mutations in humans that may lead to cancer. In a press release, the study’s senior author said that "future investigations may ultimately provide a robust rationale for reducing the exposure to acrylamide in the general population."

California shops are posting warnings about acrylamideCalifornia issues cancer warnings for all sorts of items, from boats to wooden furniture to Tiffany lamps.

In 2018, a California judge ruled that coffee companies must post warnings about acrylamide, in accordance with Proposition 65, a state law that requires businesses to alert residents about significant exposures to toxic chemicals.

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is now attempting to reverse that ruling, arguing that coffee consumption poses no significant risk. Their stance is backed by the US Food and Drug Administration, which said that cancer warnings "would be more likely to mislead consumers than to inform them."

A Prop 65 warning posted on the window of a Ventura auto parts store.

More than a decade ago, restaurant chains like McDonald’s, KFC, Wendy’s, and Burger King also agreed to post warnings in their California stores about acrylamide in french fries. McDonald’s in the UK has adopted methods to reduce the presence of the chemical, such as cooking at lower temperatures or switching to potatoes with less starch.

In 2008, Heinz and Frito-Lay each settled lawsuits with the state of California after agreeing to reduce the concentrations of acrylamide in their products. The attorney general at the time, Edmund Brown, called the settlements "a victory for public health and safety."

The acrylamide dose makes the poison

One of the general principles of toxicology is that the dose makes the poison. When we’re exposed to chemicals in extremely high amounts, there’s a potential to get sick, but an order of french fries or cup of coffee isn’t likely to kill you.

"Adults with the highest consumption of acrylamide could consume 160 times as much and still only be at a level that toxicologists think unlikely to cause increased tumors in mice," David Spiegelhalter, a University of Cambridge professor who studies public risk, told Popular Science.

As with any chemical, new evidence could change our understanding of its relationship to cancer.In the 1980s, any product containing the zero-calorie sweetener saccharin – sold under the brand name Sweet’N Low – was required to have a warning label saying it was carcinogenic.

The concerns were based on a single study of saccharin exposure in rats, which turned out to be flawed. The rats used in the experiment were already prone to a parasite that made them especially vulnerable to bladder cancer. Following this discovery, the US Department of Health and Human Services removed saccharin from its list of cancer-causing agents.

While the risks of consuming acrylamide are not yet fully understood, new studies could find that it’s harmful, or not at all a risk to human health.

For now, people shouldn’t worry about cancer when they’re roasting marshmallows or ordering french fries – but they might want to stay tuned for future research.

Categories: NEWS

State FDA to make health check-ups mandatory for food delivery personnel

28,March, 2019 Comments off

In a first in India, authority will order online food aggregators next month to keep records of delivery professionals’ health. Move is to ensure that any infectious diseases are not passed on due to incorrect handling

Ordering food to one’s doorstep has become an indispensable part of urban life for many, thanks to the burgeoning industry of online food delivery companies like Swiggy, Zomato, UberEats, Foodpanda, etc. over the last few years. So much so that even after numerous negative cases caught public attention over recent months — demonstrating not just a blatant disregard for basic food hygiene and safety, but also a lack of regulation — the popularity of such services remains largely undisturbed.

However, after watching a slew of violations from the sidelines, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now decided to step in. The authority has declared its intent to keep a check on the health of food delivery partners, in a bid to ensure that food handled and received through them remains hygienic and uncontaminated. For this, the FDA has instructed the aggregators that soon, routine health check-ups of their delivery partners will be made mandatory.

While lakhs of men and women across the country work to deliver for online food aggregators today, the new move will make Maharashtra the first state to introduce such a rule.

In the last three months, several cases have caught the eye of social media, wherein violations of food safety have occurred during delivery. Last December, Zomato became mired in controversy after a twominute video from Madurai went viral, in which one of its deliverymen in uniform was captured sneaking food out of the bag, skimming off bites from packages, resealing them and then heading off to hand them over to customers. In February this year, a Chennai resident found a blood-stained adhesive bandage in a box of noodles ordered via delivery giant Swiggy, after he had consumed half his meal.

While these shockers propelled the state FDA to take strict steps, the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 and Rules and Regulations of 2011 already mandate all food business operators to regularly conduct health check-ups of staff handling food. This has to be routinely accomplished with a registered medical practitioner, who must then issue a certificate as to whether an employee is healthy for the job. This record can be asked for by the FDA at any time.

“We want all online food delivery aggregators to mandatorily facilitate health check-ups of delivery partners and maintain meticulous records of this. As their job entails handling food and beverages, there is always the chance of diseases being transmitted,” explained state FDA commissioner Pallavi Darade.

Officials fear that people directly handling food could in particular contribute to the spread of diarrhoeal diseases and viral gastroenteritis, besides some other bacterial and viral infections. Eager to implement the new initiative, FDA has announced that it will issue orders about these mandatory health checkups next month, and will also ask the companies to submit these details rapidly.

Darade added, “Existing food safety rules clearly state that these aggregators are obliged to routinely conduct health checks of food handlers. The online business is streamlined — they are not like street hawkers, who are in a largely uninvigilated industry. There is a risk that food handlers with an infectious disease could transmit it on to a customer via edibles. We will continue to keep tabs on online food delivery platforms, and will instruct them to submit updated medical details of delivery partners soon.”

FDA assistant commissioner for Pune region, Sampat Deshmukh, further elaborated, “It does not stop at health check-ups. Food handlers must also maintain self-hygiene. They must keep their hair short and cut their nails, not consume gutkha or smoke. As per the norms, every food handler must undergo a health check-up at least once a year, and be free from skin infections and contagious diseases.”

While UberEats and Foodpanda refused to comment on the development when contacted by Mirror, a company spokesperson for Zomato shared, “We take the health and safety of our delivery partners very seriously and have introduced various programmes targeted at propelling their holistic growth, like collaborating with traffic police for road safety training and focusing on skilling and re-skilling them with Zomato Rider University. We also offer life and health insurance benefits above the market standards and will also soon start organising regular health camps for all our delivery partners.”

Meanwhile, a Swiggy spokesperson said, “As an industry leader and category creator, Swiggy is committed to bringing in the necessary confidence and control in the safe handling of food. To continue providing a delightful consumer experience, Swiggy is already in the process of procurement of medical fitness certificates and transporter registration under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for our delivery partners across India. As an intermediary providing the service of delivering food from partner restaurants, Swiggy is committed to working with the authorities to ensure safe handling of food during last-mile delivery. Delivery partners engage with Swiggy on a principal-to-principal basis and undergo all necessary background verification and training on various topics from time to time.”

Categories: NEWS

FSSAI Directs Food Commissioners to Prevent Use of Banned Substances for Artificial Ripening of Fruits

28,March, 2019 Comments off

The FSSAI -Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has directed the food safety commissioners in all States as well as Union Territories to take on “effective surveillance and enforcement activities” to stop the use of prohibited substances like calcium carbide or acetylene gas for unnatural/artificial ripening of fruits.

The regulator told that artificial ripening of fruits with the use of prohibited substances poses serious risk to the health of customers. Keeping in mind the extensive use of banned calcium carbide & non-availability of substitute ripening agent, the FSSAI had allowed the use of ethylene gas for maturing of fruits in the year 2016.

In an order, the food safety regulator said, “Despite ban on sale of artificially ripened fruits with the use of calcium carbide, the prevalence of such ripened fruits in the marketplace is a serious reason for concern and should be tackled effectively”.

It further said, “Commissioners of Food Safety of all the States as well as Union Territories are hereby ordered to start effective inspection and enforcement activities to exclude any possibility of ripening of fruits with the aid of detrimental and banned substances acetylene gas or calcium carbide. They are also recommended to do similar exercise for vegetables to verify the level of pesticides”.

It has also urged the commissioners to conduct awareness programmes at market level targeted at vendors & food business operators. It also suggested use of electronic and print media to teach customers and food businesses regarding this issue.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has fixed a maximum permissible limit for ethylene use and specified a standard operating process.

Categories: NEWS

Central Railway to start checking over 200 stalls in Mumbai division

28,March, 2019 Comments off

Another senior official said a team, including medical officers, officials of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and commercial members of the Central Railway, will start intensive inspection of stalls located on railway stations in all five divisions, including Mumbai, Nagpur, Solapur, Pune and Bhusaval.

On Tuesday, the authorities sealed the stall, Chantoo Lal and Sons.

A DAY after the video of a man drawing water out of an overhead tank at a railway stall in Kurla station, to make lemon juice, went viral, the Central Railway has decided to inspect more than 200 stalls in the Mumbai division. It will later extend the drive to all five divisions of the Central Railway. The drive will start from March 27.

The authorities have sent samples of the water and the lemon juice to a laboratory to screen it for contamination. On Monday, the video of a man making lemon juice, allegedly with contaminated water at Kurla station, went viral.

On Tuesday, the authorities sealed the stall, Chantoo Lal and Sons. A senior official said samples of the lemon juice were collected and sent to a laboratory in Dadar for testing.

Sunil Udasi, chief public relations officer, Central Railway, said, “Two samples of the lemon juice have been sent to National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). We have also initiated a special drive to check the quality of food and beverages sold at stalls in railway stations. A report from the lab is expected in four to five days, and we will take action accordingly.”

Another senior official said a team, including medical officers, officials of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and commercial members of the Central Railway, will start intensive inspection of stalls located on railway stations in all five divisions, including Mumbai, Nagpur, Solapur, Pune and Bhusaval.

Sources from Central Railway said there were more than 240 stalls in Mumbai division. According to a letter issued by the Central Railway, “Inspection team will check hygiene, FSSAI certification, pest control, potable water used for making food, waste management and raw materials used for making the food.” Sources added that the vendor owned three stalls at Kurla station and the third generation of the family was running the stall.

Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Parishad, said, “Kurla station does not have a water vending machine. The railways should install one, so that people can drink clean water. Many stations under Central Railway don’t have drinking water forcing passengers to depend on stalls.”

Categories: NEWS