Kṛṣṇacandra Dāsa – Śrī Vṛndāvan Dham: For those of you who are either residing in or intending to visit the Holy Dham please be aware that in India the quality control of foodstuffs is in many cases very low. Food adulteration or tampering is quite rampant here and devotees need to know that what they are consuming may not be good for their health.
Milk, Vegetables and other daily consumables are very much the object of adulteration. Milk, cream, yogurt, butter and Ghee are generally tampered with. Milk purchased from local dairies or shops or bike carriers is always diluted with untreated water, unless one is present at the milking of the cow. Milk is also whitened or thickened along with cream and yoghurt with various thickening agents that may be hazardous to one’s health.
The fruits and vegetables are also picked green and ripened and colored artificially with unregulated chemicals that are well known to produce negative heath consequences. For a good article on the problem with fruits and vegetables in India please refer to this article.
Cream or Yogurt purchased from street vendors or even some dairies in the market has been known to be adulterated with chemical thickening agents. In the hot season yogurt or dahi is a favorite amongst devotees. Please be careful when consuming these in India in the dry months. Cows are being fed with dry feed and as a consequence, the milk and cream is thinner. Therefore cheap and unregulated chemical thickening agents are used, such as chalk, urea and caustic soda.
Then there is the counterfeiting of packaged / canned or bottled foodstuffs. There are many illegal companies who counterfeit branded products using identical packaging and labeling for foodstuffs and fill them with diluted or bogus product. There have been cases of counterfeit ghee made from animal fats etc and sold in branded company packaging.
Apart from this, residents or pilgrims need to be extra careful in the hot season, April – September, where water, milk, yogurt and foodstuffs readily decompose and are many times more susceptible to becoming infected by bacterial and amoebic pathogens.
Turmeric and Red Chili powder are great culprits for chemical dyes. Ekadasi Turmeric or fresh Turmeric is usually safe with the fresh turmeric being the first choice however it is very difficult to obtain locally. Red Chili powder especially the brilliant red ones are most likely to be dyed and so the best replacement is dry red chilies or use fresh ones from the market which are usually grown locally and so are less likely to be adulterated.
There are some simple tests that can help you find out if some of your foodstuffs are dangerous to your health found here.
Living in Vṛndāvan Dham one has to contend with these issues practically on a daily basis and there is no escaping it for we are after all consumers which is never more stark since we offer foodstuffs to the Lord on a daily basis.
The shame is that our society has spent the last thirty five years wasting time by making the bogus gurus rich and famous all the while the development of our Vaiṣṇava community has been sorely neglected. So we are slaves to the consumer world and have no means to live a life of simple living high thinking…
Please read the below article and inform yourself on this very important matter.
India Today / Archive / Living / July 12, 2010 / Story
July 3, 2010 | UPDATED 15:42 IST
You are what you eat, they say. The outcome of that old adage could be fatal in India where food adulteration runs rampant. From vegetables, pulses and spices to chocolate and energy drinks, nothing remains contamination-proof. Consumers may be oblivious to the dangers, but tainted items are heightening the risk of conditions like cancer, paralysis and liver and heart damage.
Earlier this year, supermarkets in Chennai were found to be selling repackaged expired goods that had been cleverly displayed along with fresh items. More than Rs 10 lakh worth of expired products such as rice, dals, tea and biscuits were recovered from a godown during a police raid. These were meant to be repackaged and resold to supermarkets. In Maharashtra, courts have more than 10,000 cases regarding food adulteration pending over the last decade. Last October, officials of the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seized Chinese chocolate containing melamine, which multiplies the risk of bladder cancer. Branded energy drinks have also been confiscated for containing nearly 50 per cent more caffeine than what is legally permitted which may cause cancer. At the start of the mango season, 538 dozen mangoes costing Rs 2.8 lakh were seized during six raids between March and April in Mumbai. The mangoes had been ripened illegally with calcium carbide, which can affect the nervous system and may contain traces of phosphorous and arsenic.
Spices are laced with excessive edible colours and heavy metals. While lead can cause anaemia, paralysis and the risk of abortion, colours can cause mental retardation in infants and increase the risk of cancers. Malachite is doused to brighten green vegetables and can increase the risk of lung tumour. “If the adulteration is harmful, in the short term it will cause diarrhoea, food poisoning and gastrointestinal problems, but in the long term toxic materials accumulate in the body with serious health implications,” says J.S. Pai, executive director of the Protein Foods and Nutrition Development Association of India. Most at risk are those who buy loose dals and unpackaged, unlabelled goods, particularly from small to medium-sized neighbourhood stores.
Bitter Gourd and Capsicum: Banned malachite added to make them green and shiny
Adulteration of milk, fruits and vegetables is a serious problem with up to 10 per cent of milk being adulterated; the figure is 15 per cent for vegetables and fruits. Milk is mostly adulterated with dirty water, which can cause hepatitis. It is also substituted with synthetic milk made of caustic soda, urea and detergent. “These are very harmful to the heart, liver and kidneys, and is specifically dangerous for pregnant women and the foetus,” says Dr Nutan Desai, a gastroenterologist at Fortis Hospital, Mumbai. It usually rockets in the run-up to Diwali, during which the demand for mawa (a milk product used in sweets) jumps up eight-fold in cities like Delhi. Fake mawa is made with powdered milk and vegetable oil instead of buffalo or cow milk. Sometimes chalk, urea and caustic soda is added.
Meanwhile, India’s second largest state milk federation body, the Karnataka Milk Federation, has been forced to withdraw its full cream milk from the market because it found that vendors were using water to dilute the milk and later adding starch to thicken it. In Maharashtra last year, a milk adulteration racket led by Eknath Funde, who had a Ph.D in organic farming, was busted. Funde had been mixing milk with thickening agent sorbitol and detergent and supplying it to a milk manufacturer.