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Thursday, June 26, 2008

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THE use of extremely harmful chemicals for ripening fruits continues unabated, as is evident from a photograph published in this newspaper yesterday. It shows how bananas are soaked in toxic chemicals in utter disregard of the law and the physical well being of the unsuspecting consumers. Obviously, the consumers do not know that they are actually ingesting poison with the delicious fruit.

Adulteration of foods and use of non-food grade colours, substandard materials and poisonous preservatives have been going on for a pretty long time, as no sustained effort was made to eliminate the evil practices that pose a direct threat to public health. The anti-adulteration drive in the city led by a magistrate about two years ago brought forth some mind-boggling facts about the health and hygiene standards maintained in our hotels and restaurants and the incredibly sinister practices in preparing and marketing foods of different kinds. The drive looked like producing some truly positive result, as the real offenders, at least a section of them, started to feel the crunch. But the campaign was short-lived which has apparently allowed the unscrupulous traders and businessmen to restart their business of producing and marketing foods unfit for human consumption.

While some of the evil practices continue round the year, the illegal business seems to gain momentum during the season of mangoes and other local fruits. The methods adopted for ripening mangoes include use of a chemical that causes great harm to the consumers.

Sadly enough, nothing is actually happening secretly and the market inspectors or the law enforcers cannot claim that they do not know what is going on. It seems society at large has developed a kind of insensitivity to issues like this. Millions of consumers are being pushed towards death while the issue is not seen as anything more than a minor irritant. Only that can explain why traders using toxic preservatives and ripening chemicals go unpunished. The question arises, for obvious reasons, whether concern about public health really means anything in practical terms.

The campaign against adulteration and all such practices should not be a seasonal affair, if we really want to stop the activities that amount to slow-poisoning the consumers. The law has to be enforced strictly without wasting any more time. It is a question of saving unsuspecting people from the hands of ghastly elements out to make undue profits at the cost of fellow humans.

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