First it was the fruits and now it is the vegetables and spices that are being under ‘attack’. With the law-enforcing agencies unable to curb the massive adulteration of the food chain across the city, more and more Hyderabadis are likely to fall prey to serious diseases, including slow death in the near future.
Last week, the police busted a massive racket of using adulterants such as black oxide, varnish, paint and glue to make low-quality spices worthy of selling to unsuspecting buyers in the Old City.
Astonishingly, 20 men along with their leaders had been mixing various adulterants in spices in rented godowns right under the cops’ nose.
From mixing low-quality semolina in poppy seeds, to adding paint and glue to increase weight, the miscreants were putting labels of local companies on sacks of poisonous spices and shipping it to various corners of the city.
While the cops have claimed a major breakthrough, big worries remain about the identity of the people behind the racket, who in collusion with the merchants could be carrying out similar activities elsewhere.
All the cops have managed to do is identify a broker who liaised between the adulterators and the merchants. Experts say the Old City crackdown assumes great significance in context of the magnitude of the massive adulterated food market in Hyderabad, especially due to its serious health implications.
It also comes two months after the Hyderabad High Court sought strong action against fruit traders for using carcinogen calcium carbide to ripen fruits. While the court described the traders as `worse than terrorists’, authorities sealed some fruit markets and seized cartons of fruits, ripened with calcium carbide.
But, clearly the effort hasn’t been effective enough, as the markets are again found flooded with such fruits and the cops, after initial hullabaloo have gone back to their ignoring ways.
So every fruit one picks up in the market could be injected with chemicals.
Not just the aam aadmi in Hyderabad, even people staying at big resorts and five-star hotels, are falling prey, with absolutely no way to conclusively confirm that the water melons have not been injected with erythrosine to give a darker red look or whether the grapes have not been sprayed with pesticide and ripened by highly concentrated chemicals.
Some of the bigger hotels, however, are careful and source their fruits from organic farms, but not all follow the same rules.
More worrisome has been the government’s poor reaction to curb adulteration of vegetables, the staple food for millions of people.
With most of the green vegetables laced with copper sulphate and chemical dye, food safety officials admit they have been helpless about it despite being aware about the high levels of chemicals used in vegetables.
Coloured dyes are being issued to make insect affected cauliflowers and cabbages look greener. In view of the HC rapping the government in its knuckles, authorities’ promise to crackdown on vegetable markets turned out to be a hollow one.
Experts have called for more research to prove the huge impact of chemicals on the human body. Some research done in the past has shown how adulterants in mustard seeds and edible oil cause glaucoma and cardiac arrest and the same in tea is likely to cause cancer.Similarly, mercury-contaminated fish and seeds grains can cause brain damage and slow death.