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Beware of Packed chips,Pizzas and Burgers :A CSE Lab Report

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan

A 2016 report by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) shows a worrying trend –disease burden due to unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and overweight has increased from 10 per cent to 25 per cent since 1990. Type 2 diabetes and Obesity has assumed epidemic proportions worldwide. India has the largest number of diabetics in the world and obesity is also on the rise, particularly affecting the younger population. The rising prevalence of obesity particularly among Urban Women leads to a greater prevalence of type 2 diabetes. At 53 deaths per 1,00,000 population, Tamil Nadu had the highest death rate from diabetes among Indian states, followed by Punjab (44) and Karnataka (42), all significantly higher than the national average (23).

How many of you know that a 35 gms pack of Haldiram’s Classic Nut Crackers or the regular Non Veg Supreme Pizza from Domino’s would result in exhausting around 35 percent of your daily permissible salt intake and 26 per cent of the allowed fat consumption.Consumption of these junk foods ,that are high in salts ,fats and trans-fats can have deadly impacts.

A new Laboratory analysis by CSE on commonly available popular processed foods has set the warning bells toiling.The study finds that the packaged food like chips and fast food items being sold in India contain dangerously high levels of salt and fat in them,the levels of which are higher that the thresholds set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).In the current study they had tested 33 popular junk foods,which include 14 samples of chips, namkeen, noodles, instant soup and 19 samples of burgers, fries, fried chicken pizza, sandwich,wraps.The samples were collected locally from fast food oultets in Delhi and are known to be widely sold and consumed across the country.

CSE expresses its concerns over the regulations not in place yet.The draft FSS (labelling and Display)Regulations 2018 and latest draft of 2019 proposed that foods containing more than set thresholds to be labelled Red on the front of pack.The proposed red label has been a point of contention and a reson for delay.

As we analyse the results, we find that all Packed Chips would be red for salt and fat. “Uncle Chipps” has the maximum salt and fat content. “Classic Salted Chips by Haldirams” declares salt in the packet, rest all the chips instead of salt mention sodium. “Pudina Treat Chips by Haldirams” contains high fat and “Tom yumm Multigrains Chips” by RP-Sanjay Goenka Group contains highest salt among all and it is sold as a healthy option. All Namkeens tested were red for salt and fat. “Bingo Mad Angles” and “Kurkure Masala Munch” declare sodium, “Haldirams Namkeens” do not declare sodium or salt.All “Noodles” would be red for salt and fat. Among the tested packaged foods,the salt intake is higher with noodles because of the bigger portion size(60g-70g) as well as higher per 100 g values. “Knorr Classic Thick Tomato Soup” has high content of salt. Burgers due to their portion size lead to high intake of saltand fat. Even small burgers will be red for sat and fat.Fries from all three fast food resturants like “KFC, Burger King and MC Donalds” have high fat.Fried Chicken sold by KFC is high in both salt and fat and will be red for both. All pizzas would be red because the actual intake of salt and fat is very high because of the big portion size.

Says Amit Khurana, programme director, food safety and toxins team, CSE : “Are we really serious about limiting our burden of obesity,diabetes and heart diseases? The FSSAI’s attitude indicates otherwise. Junk foods and their consumption are the primary contributors to this huge burden of non communicable lifestyle diseases that India is now struggling with”.

We cannot afford to ignore the warning that the CSE lab study has sounded.

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