You may have heard about lead getting inside noodle and pasta packs, but does that news cause you concern. Or are you a regular Indian with a chalta hai attitude?
Know this, all regular packaged food consumers, especially children, can likely face serious health risks, if such consumption stretches over a long period of time.
Here are facts that should open your eyes and close your mouth to packaged food:
What is Lead?
Lead exists in the earth’s crust but is rarely found as a metal. Led compounds are formed when two or more elements interact. The same logic holds true for lead found in packaged foods.
How are you exposed to lead?
You can get exposed to lead from a variety of sources — soil, pollution (vehicular and industrial), packaged food, dust, vegetables, drinking water, processed foods, etc.
How does lead harm the body?
Long-term or high exposure to lead can cause one or more of the following conditions:
- Decreased performance of the nervous system
- Increase in blood pressure
- Brain damage
- Kidney damage
- Reduced sperm production
- Cancer (exposure to lead compounds has caused kidney tumors in mice, but there’s no clinching evidence that lead is carcinogenic even though scientists think it probably is)
Why is Lead especially harmful for children?
99% of the amount of lead taken in by an adult exits the body in the form of waste. BUT only about 32% of the lead taken in by a child exits as waste. If children are continually exposed to lead, not all of the lead will be eliminated, resulting in its accumulation.
The child grows up with toxins playing the fool with his tissues and bone and all medical hell may break loose — at any time — when he matures. Of course, this is so long he’s continuously exposed to lead in any form.
How does lead form inside packaged food?
The lead found inside noodle and pasta packaging, or in any other food packaging, can be derived from one or a combination of the following sources:
- Water: Does any company tell you what water it is using in the manufacturing process? Does it come from a tanker, or from the government utility? Is it filtered, is lead extracted, is the lead content removed?
- Machinery: Packaged food has to travel through many metallic structures/vessels/pathways during the cooking and processing stage. Lead can latch on to the food during such processes.
- Foods: The food powders, masalas and the food used in the production come from agricultural sources and hence may contain lead.
- Coloring, Thickening Agents & Preservatives: These may contain lead compounds.
- Packaging: Colored plastic wrapping can also be polluted with lead compounds that can get into the processed food.
Lead, therefore, can get into food from a variety of sources, a combination of which in the finished product can form a deadly cocktail. Today, most companies conduct self-audits — in the sense they check in-house for lead content. What’s or who’s to stop them from saying the product is safe?
It is also a sham that only one noodles and pasta brand is being targeted while many lesser known brands are allowed to market their products. And, why just noodles and pasta? Why is our food agency (FSSAI) not checking into all processed and packaged food?
But the point of this article is not to uncover a political or bureaucratic controversy. It is to educate our readers about the dangers of lead poisoning from packaged food and make them aware of how we and our posterity (children) may be potentially being poisoned by corporate greed and state connivance.
Image Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0d/Symptoms_of_lead_poisoning_%28raster%29.png
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