Should you boil pasteurised milk ?

The dilemma of boiling or not boiling our favourite Indian drink, milk, has crossed many of us. With new technology coming in every second day, it is scary for us to let go of our ancient practices. It is this debate of what our parents followed and what we need to follow that let us to this pertinent question – Should we boil milk or not?
What is pasteurization?
A method invented in the 19th century, pasteurization involves heating milk to an extremely high temperature and then quickly cooling it before it goes for packaging or bottling. This helps keep the milk fresh. The method of pasteurization is best to kill bacteria present in milk which can be harmful for us. Dangerous bacteria such as salmonella can affect our health in more ways than one.
Milk is heated upto 161.6 Fahrenheit for 15 seconds and then immediately cooled. This process is known as high temperature short time pasteurization, which is the most common method used across India and many parts of the world.
Will boiling pasteurized milk help?
While India is used to the tradition of boiling fresh dairy milk, experts feel that this practice has lingered on even with the newly packaged pasteurized milk. Professor Saurabh Gupta, Food Cooperation of India (FCI) says, “When we are heating milk to such a high temperature during pasteurization, we are increasing its shelf life. If we boil this milk further, we end up lessening its shelf life.”
According to Dr Saurabh Arora, founder, food safety helpline.com, there is no need to boil pasteurized milk at all. “As it has already been given heat treatment during pasteurization, milk is microbe free. Therefore, there is no need to boil this milk further, which was ideally the reason why people started boiling dairy milk in the first place.”
The newly packaged pasteurized milk is now fortified with the added benefits of many vitamins. If we boil pasteurized milk, we end up diminishing its nutritive value. “When it is done at an industrial level, the process is called flash pasteurization, which reduces the total degradation of milk. But when we boil the same milk at home, we end up wiping out its nutritive value because we do it at a lower temperature for a prolonged period of time. This causes a heat loss effect,” says Dr Arora.
The common misconception of boiling even pasteurized milk is due to two reasons, firstly, since it is inbuilt in our system, consuming milk straight out of a tetra pack or plastic pack does not seem right to many and secondly, it is falsely believed that the shelf life of ‘boiled’ milk is more.
“Pasteurized milk can be stored at less than 4 degree Celsius for atleast seven days. If you boil this milk, you are only lessening this time period. The nutritive value of simple pasteurized packeted milk and tetra-pack milk is comparable. Boiling them will only damage their nutritive value,” says Dr Anil Kumar, assistant professor, department of food science and technology, GB Pant university.
 

Hair in your food is not just disgusting, its also poisonous

A doctor shares exactly why you should be extremely careful about human hair getting into your food.
Imagine you’ve taken a lunch or dinner break at your favourite restaurant, just to get a taste of your favourite dish. Your order comes, and you tuck into that yummy meal. But midway through, you find a teeny-tiny piece of hair in your food.
We know what your response would be: YUCK! And we thoroughly agree. It’s gross, and you just shouldn’t have to go through it. But the fact of life is that hair ends up in our food quite often and quite accidentally, whether it’s in a restaurant or at home. Come on, admit it, you’ve discovered your dear mom’s hair in the delicious dal at least once or twice?
It’s still okay if you identify the hair in your dish in time. But what if you can’t? What if you accidentally eat it? There’s no way you an get away with it without repercussions. This is the reason restaurants, bakeries and food processing units have to follow hair control measures. Ingesting hair is just not healthy.
A very hairy issue
Human hair is made up of the protein keratin, which also makes up the outer layer of the skin and nails. In itself, keratin might not pose a problem. But the truth is that, besides making you feel nauseated, hair can lead to contamination in foods. It is one of the leading physical contaminants in food, along with stones, metal pieces, insect parts, rodent droppings etc.
All of these can cause physical harm as well as result in foodborne illnesses like cholera, typhoid, jaundice etc. To ensure food safety the FSSAI has established hygiene and sanitation guidelines as per Schedule 4 of the regulations, which mentions that human hair must be controlled from falling into exposed foods in eateries as well as in food processing and manufacturing plants.
Contamination
Human hair is termed a physical as well as a microbiological contaminant, because it can lead to the growth of microorganisms in the food. Oil, sweat, residue of hair treatment chemicals and shampoos, dyes or any other organic matter sticking to the hair becomes a breeding ground for pathogens when left in processed foods for long periods of time.
A report published by the National Institute of Science, Technology, and Development Studies, New Delhi, on human hair waste states that hair could contain a number of toxic chemical contaminants. These contaminants reach the hair from the environment, and so these same toxic substances can reach food from human hair.
Health risks and precautions
You can choke on hair in food, or it can make your vomit. But that apart, human hair can transmit ringworm as well as fungal infections if a person is infected by these. Staph aureus, as it’s often called, is a type of bacteria that can be found on the skin and hair as well as in the noses and throats of people and animals.
Getting a bacterial infection is just not what you’d want, so it’s always best to take some precautions. Make sure anybody who cooks for you wears hairnets, headbands, caps, beard covers or other effective hair restraints. If a restaurant is known for faulty safety or hygiene standards, don’t go there (even if it means you won’t be able to taste a dish you love), because prevention is better than cure any day.

Fruit that looks to good to be true is often bad news – Nutritonists

Picture-perfect produce may be a result of injections of synthetic dye, coatings of inedible wax. Super-sweet flavouring could be sugar water.
Careful consumers are now starting to look for uneven shapes and spots on their apples, as a positive sign that the fruit hasn’t been tampered with.
Do you remember watermelons being as sweet when you were a kid as they are today? Some vendors are injecting sugared water into the fruit to make it sweeter, and heavier.
“They’re also injecting red dyes to make the flesh look brighter,” says nutritionist Tripti Gupta. “These colours can be toxic and cause diseases.”
Watermelons are not the only fruit being tampered with.
Apples are also coated in wax — not always the edible kind — to make them look glossier.
The perfectly ripe mango that you bought the other day may have been ripened artificially, using chemicals rather than sunshine. Eating it may just be a health hazard.
Since fruits that are harvested ripe have a shorter shelf life, some farmers or suppliers are known to artificially ripen them to stay looking fresh longer.
The most commonly used chemical is calcium carbide, and an ethylene that artificially ripens fruits.
Artificial ripening is most prevalent during the beginning of a fruit season, when the demand is high, driving prices up. Given that the sector is unorganised, there are fewer food inspectors doing checks, so many harvests go unexamined.
Nutritionist Arati Shah says that calcium carbide is also used to artificially ripen bananas, papayas and sometimes apples. “This is the same chemical used in the manufacture of firecrackers,” she says. “It contains phosphorous, and releases acetylene gas, which hastens the ripening of fruits. It is also toxic.”
QUALITY CONTROL
HOW TO TELL
To test for artificial colours: Rub the surface of the fruit or vegetable with a cotton ball soaked in water or vegetable oil.
Or place a piece of the fruit or vegetable in a glass of water and let it stand for about 30 minutes.
To detect wax polish, scratch the surface of the fruit or vegetable with a blade.
So how do you pick safe fruit? The country’s top food regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has put together an online booklet called The Pink Book: Your Guide for Safe and Nutritious Food at Home’. It is aimed at Indian households and offers advice on buying, storing and preparing food. It also has details on how to determine if fruits, vegetables, grains, spices and condiments, milk and milk products are adulterated. The booklet is available for free download on the FSSAI site: foodsmart.fssai.gov.in/ PinkBook.pdf
“We have started many initiatives to ensure what people eat is safe. While we test edible items in our labs, there are certain ways with which a common person can figure out whether the food is adulterated or not. Our booklet will come in handy there,” says Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI.
Ritika Sammadar, regional head, dietetics, New Delhi’s Max Healthcare, says recommends picking seasonal, local fruits and vegetables as they are naturally fresh, nutritionally dense and cheap. “The problem with off season fruits and vegetables that are not locally available is that they are not fresh as they are kept in cold storage, could also be adulterated,” she says.
To remove surface chemicals at home, water and white vinegar is useful.
“Grapes can be soaked in salt water or vinegar solution and rinsed thoroughly to wash off chemicals. Apples can be soaked in hot water for a few minutes and wiped carefully to remove wax,” says Gupta.
Peeling fruit helps too. “Banana and papaya are the safest,” says Niti Desai, consultant nutritionist at Mumbai’s Cumballa Hill Hospital & Heart Institute.
MOUNTING SUSPICION
TO RID FRUITS AND VEGGIES OF CHEMICALS
Soak them in salt or white vinegar solution for a few minutes and wipe thoroughly.
Or scrub using baking soda and rinse with warm water.
Peeling fruits and vegetables is the best way to make them safe to eat.
Most consumers already sense that there’s something off about early-batch mangoes, and fruits that look photo-shoot ready. LocalCircles India, a citizen engagement platform, recently carried out an online poll to understand the extent of the problem. Of the 9,224 respondents who voted during first ten days of June, 32% said that they believed that mangoes they were eating were definitely artificially ripened. Half of them said these mangoes were most likely artificially ripened. Only 11% said they were confident that the mangoes had ripened naturally.
“Artificial ripening takes place most often during the beginning when the prices are high. These prices then ease out with the onset of monsoon as larger quantities hit the market,” says K. Yatish Rajawat, chief strategy officer, LocalCircles India.
So pick your fruit wisely at the store or market. If it looks too perfect, too uniform in shape, size and colour, it likely has been tampered with. This fruit will also be low on flavour, and often not be as sweet as it should be, since the artificial ripening means that flesh is not fully ripe inside.
 

GM Mustard deserves the green signal

Let’s speed things up Cultivation’s been delayed too long
HIMANSHU SHARMA Let’s speed things up Cultivation’s been delayed too long

Its higher yields can be a game-changer. To allay fears, it can be commercially grown in a few areas and its effects monitored

The introduction of genetically-modified crops has invariably been mired in controversy in our country with science staying in the sidelines in the theatre of shrill noises — for and against.

The minister-inflicted moratorium on Bt brinjal seven years ago is a clear case in point. Concern about private sector control over technology was the dominant theme then.

Now that a body of scientists — the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee — under the ministry of environment has recommended commercialisation of genetically-modified (GM) mustard seed developed by a national public institution, any lingering concern over private sector dominance would be misplaced.

New Delhi must have the courage to bite the bullet and clear the introduction of technology seed for commercial use without delay. The Supreme Court too needs to lift the stay on it before growers are able to access the seed.

Transformative potential

When commercialised, if the performance of the seed comes anywhere close to the results of field trials, it has the potential to be a game-changer for the oilseeds sector.

To be sure, our country is among the world’s largest importers of edible oil. We pay a humongous price in foreign exchange of about $10 billion (₹65,000 crore) annually to import various oils aggregating to about 14 million tonnes, representing two-third of domestic consumption demand.

Our oilseed yields have been notoriously low for over three decades (just about 1,000 kg a hectare) when other major origins have made rapid strides in output per unit of land by modernising agriculture.

There is now a dire need for us to harvest more from the same piece of land and it can be done only by creating conditions that promote higher yields, improve oil content and enhance nutritional value.

Obviously, infusion of technology in agriculture is now becoming a necessity rather than a matter of choice.

Going forward, land constraints, water shortage and climate change are sure to adversely impact Indian agriculture with the attendant risk that our import dependence may worsen and food security might be compromised.

From a food safety perspective, it must be stated that fears over GM foods are overblown.

Take our own example. Bt cotton was introduced way back in 2003 and for well over a decade, large quantities of derivative products or byproducts of GM cotton — cottonseed oil and cottonseed cake/meal — have entered our food chain, directly or indirectly.

There have been no reported cases of adverse effect on human or animal health.

Cost-benefit analysis

To err on the side of caution, it may be desirable for the Government to examine various scenarios that may emerge in the event of any decision (for or against) and do a cost-benefit analysis of each of the scenarios. There are different dimensions of the issue that need to be examined. These include social, technological, economic, environmental and political aspects.

Popularly known as the STEEP approach, it may be an appropriate tool to test costs and benefits of a decision.

Social — Is the proposal/decision socially desirable?

Technological — Is the proposal/decision technologically feasible?

Economic — Is the proposal/decision economically viable?

Environmental — Is the proposal/decision environmentally friendly?

Political — Is the proposal/decision politically acceptable?

If the answer to each one of these questions is ‘Yes’, then one can say with reasonable certainty that the decision could prove to be right and sustainable.

Addressing the questions

One way to address some of the concerns — biosafety, environment — is to permit commercial cultivation of GM mustard in specific locations, say in a dozen districts across the growing region of western and northern India for one or two seasons.

It will generate sufficient data for scientists and policymakers; also, it will allow lead time for environment impact and other related studies.

As commercial cultivation would be restricted to a few select districts, it would facilitate effective monitoring and evaluation with the help of State governments and agricultural universities with overarching monitoring responsibility resting with the Centre. It will also allow the study of grower and consumer acceptance of the modified crop.

We should actually be accelerating technology infusion in agriculture. Information technology, biotechnology, satellite technology, nuclear agricultural technology and nanotechnology have the potential to offer solutions.

Strengthening farm production and productivity cannot brook any delay. It would of course be naïve to think GM tech is a magic bullet that will take care of all of the country’s farm-related problems. In terms of investment, as a nation we should be doing a lot more for agriculture than at present.

The apathy among policymakers in addressing agriculture-related issues including structural problems that stymie growth is most unfortunate. We need to take giant strides in different directions to boost agriculture. Surely, one of them is infusion of multiple technologies in agriculture.

G CHANDRASEKAR

The writer is an agribusiness and commodities market specialist

 

Meat startups : The clean up could actually help

Most of the meat consumed in India comes fresh from the neighborhood butchery which neither maintains any hygiene, or storage practices. Most of them are not licensed. With FSSAI in place, obtaining a license would require them follow the mandated good manufacturing practices and good hygiene practices, the knowledge for which is lacking in the roadside slaughter houses. This would mean a certain amount of market consolidation and movement towards the organized players.

Sooner or later, as part of the crackdown, the hygiene and health aspect of this is sure to start getting highlighted. This will be done by the establishments to justify the cleanup and will be countered by the meat producers associations to prevent the customers from moving away from meat. This will raise general awareness on food safety amongst the consumers and move them to products with proven supply chain for such a high risk food product.

However, the uncertainty on whether FSSAI will be able to rise up to the occasion to enforce the requirements is questionable. The problem at hand is just too huge, and the enforcement officers have neither the competence nor the willingness to clean up the system. It has been over 6 months since the last date to register all food establishments with FSSAI expired (4th August 2016 was the last date), yet food continues to packaged and sold without establishments having a license.


Most of the meat consumed in India comes fresh from the neighborhood butchery which neither maintains any hygiene, or storage practices. Most of them are not licensed. With FSSAI in place, obtaining a license would require them follow the mandated good manufacturing practices and good hygiene practices, the knowledge for which is lacking in the roadside slaughter houses. This would mean a certain amount of market consolidation and movement towards the organized players.

Sooner or later, as part of the crackdown, the hygiene and health aspect of this is sure to start getting highlighted. This will be done by the establishments to justify the cleanup and will be countered by the meat producers associations to prevent the customers from moving away from meat. This will raise general awareness on food safety amongst the consumers and move them to products with proven supply chain for such a high risk food product.

However, the uncertainty on whether FSSAI will be able to rise up to the occasion to enforce the requirements is questionable. The problem at hand is just too huge, and the enforcement officers have neither the competence nor the willingness to clean up the system. It has been over 6 months since the last date to register all food establishments with FSSAI expired (4th August 2016 was the last date), yet food continues to packaged and sold without establishments having a license.



Disclosure: Ramesh is a Consultant at Quality & Food Safety Consultants, that helps companies meet food safety requirements for their establishments in the food chain. He can be reached at ramesh@qafsc.com_

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