The FSSAI has drafted an amendment for the removal of Zinc from the list of metal contaminants. The objections and suggestions to the proposed amendment are to be sent on the form especially prepared for it and must reach the FSSAI office on or before 13 May 2016. Once notified in the Official Gazette the amendment will be called the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Amendment Regulations, 2016.
In the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011, Zinc has been listed as a metal contaminant. The standards and the limit as per PPM have been given for beverages, juices, fruit pulp and pulp products, edible gelatine, infant milk substitutes, turmeric, fruit and vegetable products, hard boiled sugar confectionery and not specified foods.
According to the new proposed amendment in the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011 relating to METAL CONTAMINANTS in the sub regulation that lists the contaminants; Zinc is proposed to be omitted from the regulations. All entries that have been made for the limits of Zinc as per ppm shall also be omitted. This means that all foods mentioned in the regulations previously will no longer need to comply with limits of Zinc.
About Zinc and Zinc Deficiency
Zinc is a substance that occurs naturally in air, water and soil. There are a number of foodstuffs that contain zinc including drinking water. However, in sites that contain toxic waste, concentrations of zinc in water could reach high levels and prove to be hazardous.
Zinc is essential for human health and those who have low levels of zinc experience loss of appetite, lowered sense of taste and smell. Low levels of zinc can also cause poor healing of wounds and sores. Zinc shortage can also cause birth defects and lead to stunted growth and poor immune systems. In children under five years of age it can cause impaired physical and neural development, leading to decreased brain functions that will remain into adulthood.
According to the International Zinc Association India, India has highly zinc deficient agricultural soil and zinc deficiency in the soil is likely to grow to 63 percent by 2025. Since the soil is zinc deficient so the Indian population is also zinc deficient especially as food grains are the main source of calorie intake. As many as 312 million people in India have zinc deficiency which is about 26 percent of the total population. In India the use of zinc fertilisers has been initiated as a solution to the problems of zinc deficiency. It has been estimated that just enriching rich and wheat with zinc can save the lives of 48,000 children in India annually.
Research conducted by the WHO during the past 10–15 years suggests that zinc deficiency is widespread and affects the health of population throughout the world.
Meat and seafood are good sources of zinc but where the population are vegetarian, they become zinc deficient. Vegetarians are at a greater risk of zinc deficiency as fruits and vegetables are not good sources of zinc. Therefore, low-protein diets and vegetarian diets tend to be low in zinc. Vegetarians can get their daily intake of zinc from nuts, whole grains, legumes, and yeast. Another reason for zinc deficiency is low absorption from diet even if the zinc intake is sufficient especially if the diet has grains and cereals as the fibre and phytates in these foods work as inhibitors for the absorption of zinc.