Monday, 12 January 2009

Andhra chillis are safe

From Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Chilli powder may have lost its pungency after Britain recently rejected the contaminated Indian stocks, but the red hot spice continues to be safe at least for the Hyderabadis.
None of the branded chilli powder sold in twin cities is contaminated with poisonous or cancer-causing sudan variants if the laboratory tests are any indication. Even chilli powder available elsewhere in the State is sudan-free.
"People need not worry about the chilli powder they use in kitchen. It is safe and free of adulterants. We have conducted stringent laboratory tests on 2500 samples of chilli powder and only seven samples were contaminated with artificial colouring agent sudan. In Hyderabad only one sample was adulterated", Indian Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM) deputy food controller Mukhtar Mohiuddin told Deccan Chronicle.
The State Food Laboratory at Nacharam receives about 13,000 samples of various food items including 2500 samples of chilli powder every year. It found just seven sudans each in 2003 and 2004. This in other words means that a mere 0.24 per cent of chilli samples are adulterated.
According to official records, none of the chilli samples during the past five years was adulterated with brick powder or saw dust. "People generally believe that chilli powder is mixed with brick powder or saw dust. This is not true. A decade ago adulteration of spices and condiments was quite common. Now that there is stiff competition among manufacturers, adulteration has almost stopped at least in cities like Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur and Rajahmundry", confirms a senior official at the State Food Laboratory.
The seven sudan contaminated chilli powder stocks were recovered from Tenali, Vijayawada, Madanapalli, Guntur, Addanki and Tanuku, besides Hyderabad during 2004. Sudans are yet to be found in the 400 and odd chilli samples tested so far since January 1 this year.
Food Adulteration Act deals with three types of colours - natural, synthetic and oil soluble. Sudan variants sudan-1, sudan-2 and sudan-3 are oil soluble colours and unscrupulous manufacturers with market in interior villages find it easy to mix them with third quality chillis to obtain bright red colour.
The State has 300 food inspectors and most of them are controlled by respective municipal bodies and notified gram panchayats. The IPM has control over just 70 food inspectors who are posted to collect samples from hamlets and small panchayats.
"Everytime there's some news about adulteration, people look at IPM for solution. Our hands are tied. We do not have control over civic and local bodies. IPM cannot conduct raids even in Hyderabad. We need to procure perior permission. How can you expect us to carry out raids?", argues a senior IPM official.

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