Vishal Rao, Oncologist & Head and Neck surgeon, HealthCare Global (HCG)
Cancer Center (Bangalore)

A 45-year-old man presented himself to an oncologist with the typical
symptoms of stomach cancer. His worst fears came true, the biopsy
reports showed positive results.

He led an extremely healthy lifestyle; exercised regularly, maintained a
balanced diet and did not have any addictions. Yet, cancer had managed
to conquer his system. The distraught man asked the doctor, “Why
me?” The visibly uncomfortable doctor was speechless.


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Some of the reports on food exports from India show we rank among the top in agri-food rejects to USA & EU as per the UNIDO reports. what could be the standards of internal consumption for us Indians? The Maggi trial that India witnessed recently opened the much-needed debate on food safety. Let’s reflect on a few aspects of such safety issues. visit getTBI.thebetterindia. It may not be just tobacco. The key reasons for rejects implicated in the reports were – mycotoxins. microbial contamination.com . heavy metals. A lot of their patients may have maintained a healthy lifestyle and yet.Many oncologists go through a similar ordeal almost every day. we have tons of other carcinogens. Ever wondered if this was the quality for exports. which have unfortunately entered our diet chart. unauthorised food additives. end up succumbing to cancer. Why do we stand where we stand today? Current status of food quality THE BETTER INDIA www. product composition and pesticide residues.com To get our Daily Videos and Stories on Whatsapp. exposing just the tip of the iceberg. veterinary drug residues.

com .“Diet and nutrition are two different aspects of food.” Is the current state of food quality in India a matter of implausible conjecture or a reality yet to dawn in the Indian mindset? Pesticides.com To get our Daily Videos and Stories on Whatsapp.” The larger question – is our farmer well educated about balancing the quantity of pesticides to be used for safe and optimal yield. visit getTBI. he exclaimed.thebetterindia. these are ones grow for my own consumption. He brought with him a basket of fresh fruits as a token of his gratitude. While he handed it to me. preservatives and wasted calories seem to be the trends of the new Indian recipes.) THE BETTER INDIA www. “Doc. Pesticides Recently a patient of mine walked into my outpatient clinic for a follow up visit. or does he believe that more is better! (Dilution and mixing of pesticides in regulated quantity is key. these are not the regular ones which I keep for sale.

Yes. This is further compounded by extremely poor vigilance and enforcement by government agencies. pesticide residues in food are a growing concern. Endosulfan is still being used in India. The Endosulfan Tragedy in Kerala has killed over 4. visit getTBI. Endosulfan is an internationally banned insecticide that was earlier used in cashew plantations to increase the product yield. Recent reports in media highlighted traces of endosulfan found in several vegetables.A growing concern among consumers is the question – do we have too much pesticides in our food? Are these really harmful? Is there a way to prevent this? I have heard that often export rejects from various countries look at India as a potential market — be it tyres. Avoiding fruits and vegetables in fear of residue pesticides THE BETTER INDIA www. Thanks to poor consumer awareness and implicit trust of the consumer in the manufacturer to abide by ethical practices. vital to consume healthy and nutritious food after washing them thoroughly.000 people and many have been affected since the 1970’s.com .com To get our Daily Videos and Stories on Whatsapp. intellectual disabilities and cancer. Despite the ban made by UN. automobiles or food products. sustained and stable yield.thebetterindia. Personal interactions with farmers confirm their use of these banned pesticides owing to a quick. It is. The progeny of many of the survivors still suffer from conditions like macrocephaly. however.

com To get our Daily Videos and Stories on Whatsapp. The amended act awaits clearance in Rajya Sabha. Salt.com . we have moved to synthetic preservatives which help store and protect food from spoilage for extremely long periods (class 2 THE BETTER INDIA www. As technology and research has advanced. Insecticide act of India 1968 is awaiting amendments. Organic foods from reported and accredited farms may be the way forward and needs encouragement from the agriculture department. preservatives were introduced into food products for keeping them safe and edible for long periods.thebetterindia. which preserve food and provide the body with nutrition when consumed at required amounts (class 1 preservatives).would be more harmful that the consumption of minimal residues themselves in causing cancer. sugar and vegetable oil are classical examples. Preservatives Traditionally. visit getTBI. Educational programmes for farmers from NGO’s and departments would pave the way in foundation of food safety in farms.

visit getTBI.com To get our Daily Videos and Stories on Whatsapp.” Natural food colourants like pure beet/ pomegranate juice. processed meat. While they may protect the food. Their shelf life may be low but they add nutritive value to the food product as well. These preservatives are commonly found in cold drinks. carrot juice. turmeric powder. ready-to-make food products.thebetterindia. spinach powder. blueberry juice and cocoa powder can be used at home and in industries. canned food and most importantly. Adulterants Food colourants are another group of chemicals quintessentially placed in the “cancer causing family. Studies suggest that synthetic food preservatives like Sodium benzoate and Sodium nitrite can cause hyper reactivity in children and have been linked to gastric cancer as well. parsley juice.com . they’re definitely harming us.preservatives). THE BETTER INDIA www.

Hygiene Street food is a delicacy for the Indian palate. non-permitted dyes (common in turmeric powder) to coal tar (found in tea powder). Indeed the palak gravy you may be having may be onion based gravy with green colourant.com .Red 40. Blue 1 and Yellow 5 are common synthetic food colourants used in industries even though they have been proven to cause long-term health problems.thebetterindia. Typhoid fever. visit getTBI. etc. saw dust (found in chilli powder). THE BETTER INDIA www. Vegetables like green chillies and green peas are coated with malachite green (highly carcinogenic and are used as dyes to study bacteria) to enhance the colour and fruits like apples are coated with wax give them a glossy finish.com To get our Daily Videos and Stories on Whatsapp. Adulterants range from chalk powder (common in milk). botulism. amoebiasis. Microorganisms are responsible for more deaths than cancer every year.

H. Vehicular emission. They make the fruits colourful and appealing to the customer. THE BETTER INDIA www. The basic practice of washing one’s hands before touching any food ingredient is unspoken of. carbon dioxide and air pollutants from the roads are also absorbed by these food items. visit getTBI. An unhygienic condition maintained by street vendors and eateries is a key factor behind the spread of these infections. By consuming these fruits.thebetterindia. They are harvested when they are raw and treated with de-greening ripening agents like calcium carbide and ethylene.com . Can this be a cause of increasing contamination and adulteration? Degreening Agents As our storage methods are not effective enough.com To get our Daily Videos and Stories on Whatsapp. fruits and vegetables cannot be stored for a long time. Pylori is a growing cause of gastric cancers.are common food and waterborne infections. the consumer has unknowingly reduced his/ her life expectancy.

These bodies have largely remained to provide and regulate license. The more the better is our current attitude. the food industry is rapidly and exponentially growing.com . improve revenues and combat competition simultaneously. Unlimited food seems to be the most attractive and sought after option to make a dining choice. pizza. would need to resort to best methods to prolong life. in an attempt to satisfy the customer. Man is in search of instant – coffee. The industry. unlimited and more” era. The implicit trust placed by the Indian consumer on manufacturer advertisement and tall claims is appreciable. burger.Looking into the current scenario of food safety makes us wonder – how have we reached here and where are we heading? Today’s times would be rightly called “instant. Would all of these steps be feasible without compromising food safety? Is it not time for the manufacturers to reinstate this trust in the consumer and lay ethical guidelines to protect the consumer? Food standard and safety act of India is a comprehensive act.thebetterindia. lasts as long as possible and in sufficient quality that satiates the palate. We have hardly come across brands being suspended owing to poor quality compliance. We hope to have food that is given instantly. The paradox is the regulation and implementation of this act. It would not be surprising to witness buy 1 and get 3 free at the current pace and times.com To get our Daily Videos and Stories on Whatsapp. food and even success instantly. However. Would it not be ideal to have monthly checks of 100 random food THE BETTER INDIA www. visit getTBI.

To get our Daily Videos and Stories on Whatsapp.com To get our Daily Videos and Stories on Whatsapp.thebetterindia.com . selected from random shops in random areas and scrutinised for food safety? Is it not time for us to amend and strongly enforce Insecticide act of India 1968 to protect our future generations and secure food safety standards? Dr. visit getTBI. an oncologist and head and neck surgeon at the Bangalore- based HealthCare Global (HCG) Cancer Center. Vishal Rao.products. writes about the debate on food safety in India and how it is related to cancer.com THE BETTER INDIA www. visit getTBI.