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Equinox Labs conducts Free Live Webinar on FSSAI Product Approval

Chance to gain vital knowledge on FSSAI Product Approval and its impact on the Industry according to your own convenience and Another advantage is that it was ABSOLUTELY FREE.

Mr. Ashwin Bhadri, Head Business Relations & FSSAI Expert – Equinox Labs. Also Author of 13 steps to protect yourself from consumer, will explain the challenges of FSSAI Product Approval faced in the Industry by giving live Customers example.

Throughout the Webinar Equinox experts will cover the insights of FSSAI Product Approval. Plus Experts will be accessible live after the Webinar for your Questions and Queries, where you will be able to chat live and download in depth resources.

The Webinar will include:

  • Who needs to go for Product Approval.
  • New Product Approval Procedure.
  • Product Categorization.
  • Required Documents for Product Approval.
  • Q&A Session.

So Join Mr. Ashwin Bhadri for the Webinar on FSSAI Product Approval.

Date & time: Friday, July 26, 2013 02:00 PM IST

Duration:  90 mins

The Webinar is being delivered at no cost to you, Compliments of the Equinox Labs, expert in Testing, Compliance and Training.

FSSAI facing Infrasturcture Hurdles

Online food licensing and regn faces manpower & infrastructure hurdles

Even technology has failed to speed up the snail-paced licensing and registration of FBOs procedure being undertaken across the country under the Food Safety & Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011.

That is because, fraught with glitches like lack of tech-savvy users and officials and inadequate infrastructure – software, hardware and manpower – the online version of the procedure, which meant the entire process will be completed in a few minutes at the click of a few buttons, has failed to gather steam in most parts of the country where it has been launched in recent times.

While the above-mentioned glitches are a matter of grave concern for now, they are also likely to impact the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) goal of completing the licensing and registration procedure in the country before the deadline – February 4, 2014 – be it manual or online. Interestingly, the deadline has been extended by the Authority twice earlier.

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Equinox Labs to conduct Free Live Webinar on FSSAI Product Approval

This is your chance to gain vital knowledge on FSSAI Product Approval and its impact on the Industry according to your own convenience and Another advantage is that it is ABSOLUTELY FREE.

Mr. Ashwin Bhadri, Head Business Relations & FSSAI Expert – Equinox Labs. Also Author of 13 steps to protect yourself from consumer, will explain the challenges of FSSAI Product Approval faced in the Industry by giving live Customers example.

Throughout the Webinar Equinox experts will cover the insights of FSSAI Product Approval. Plus Experts will be accessible live after the Webinar for your Questions and Queries, where you will be able to chat live and download in depth resources.

The Webinar will include:

  • Who needs to go for Product Approval.
  • New Product Approval Procedure.
  • Product Categorization.
  • Required Documents for Product Approval.
  • Q&A Session.

So Join Mr. Ashwin Bhadri for the Webinar on FSSAI Product Approval.

Date & time: Friday, July 26, 2013 02:00 PM IST

Duration:  90 mins

The Webinar is being delivered at no cost to you, Compliments of the Equinox Labs, expert in Testing, Compliance and Training.

Click here to sign up for free webinar

Safe street food project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vendors wearing gloves while serving up plates of pani puri or donning a chef’s hat while stirring spicy bhel may soon be a regular sighting to Mumbai’s street food culture.

Street food is set to become certifiably safer with the central government kicking off their Safe Street Food project across fifteen cities in India including Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmadabad, Kolkata, Patna, Lucknow, Varanasi, Dehradun, Bhubaneshwar, Agartala, Jammu, Trivandrum and Chennai. The project will take off in November this year.

Food Safety and Standard Authority of India’s (FSSAI) that launched the Safe Street Food project plans to use officials from the state Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to narrow down food stalls at Juhu and Girgaon Chowpatty as a part of the pilot project.

Prior to the implementation, a detailed project report has been sought by FSSAI from all states. FDA officials are currently seeking information on 80 food stalls in Juhu and 28 stall in Girgaon about their working practices.

“We are closely studying the cooks to see if they maintain hygiene while cooking. We are also observing how they store food and dispose garbage,” said Kamlesh Sankhe, joint commissioner (food), FDA.

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SC asks to curb sale of adulterated milk

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concern over the sale of adulterated milk in the country, saying it is a serious issue and action needs to be taken by the state governments to curb it.

“It is a very serious issue. There is no doubt that it is happening all over the country. What action is being taken by the government?” a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose asked.

The bench directed the governments of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi to file their response stating what action they are taking to put an end to the menace of milk adulteration, after the Centre submitted that it is for the state governments to take action on the issue.

The court said that it would later on expand the ambit of the PIL to include all the states in the country on the issue.

The bench posted the matter for hearing on July 31 and made it clear that no further time will be given to the states to file their submissions.

The court also observed that the adulteration is because of gaps in demand and supply of milk.

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FDA issues food-borne salmonellosis warning

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the national food regulatory body, has issued an advisory following the outbreak of salmonellosis, a food-borne bacterial infection, in the US and New Zealand.

Use of Tahini sesame paste from Turkey in food preparations has been found to be the origin of the infection. The FSSAI issued the advisory in the country because imported sesame paste is used in Indian cuisine and there is a possibility that the product have entered our food chain.

“The particular outbreak appears to be over. But, this product has a long shelf-life and it may still be at people’s homes. The product has been recalled. Consumers unaware of the recall could continue to eat the product and fall sick. Hence, the FSSAI issued an advisory on June 19,” said Shashikant Kekare, joint commissioner (food), Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), Pune division.

FDA assistant commissioner Dilip Sangat said, “Soon after receiving the FSSAI’s advisory, we carried out thorough inspections at food stores that stock imported food items. We have not found Tahini sesame paste from Turkey. But there are chances that it may be used in households in Pune. Hence, people need to be made aware that they should immediately stop using the product. We are keeping a vigil to ensure that the product does not enter the city’s imported food supply chain.”

As per the FSSAI’s advisory, the recalled consignment of Tahini sesame paste has expiration dates from January 1 to June 8, 2014 and from October 16, 2014 to March 15, 2015. The manufacturer of the paste in Turkey is called GESAS Genel Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret A S of Konya, Turkey.

Food-borne salmonella is a leading cause of food-borne illnesses. Traditionally, most cases of salmonellosis were thought to originate from meat and poultry products. But, an increasing number of outbreaks are occurring as a result of contaminated produce, say researchers.

Several produce have been specifically identified in outbreaks, and the ability of salmonella to attach or internalise into vegetables and fruits may be factors that make these items more likely to be salmonella sources. In addition, environmental factors, including contaminated water sources used to irrigate and wash produce or crops, have been implicated in a large number of outbreaks, experts said.

Salmonella is carried by both domesticated and wild animals and can contaminate freshwater by direct or indirect contact. In some cases, direct contact of produce or seeds with contaminated manure or animal waste can lead to contaminated crops.

The US-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that consumers do not eat recalled Krinos brand tahini sesame paste and discard any remaining product at homes.

Outbreak of salmonellosis in US

* Total 16 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Montevideo or Salmonella Mbandaka were reported from nine states till June 21

* The number of ill people identified in each state was as follows: California (1), Georgia (1), Iowa (1), Louisiana (1), Minnesota (2), New York (1), North Dakota (1), Texas (7), and Wisconsin (1)

* One patient hospitalised who died later

* Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicated that tahini sesame paste distributed by Krinos Foods, LLC of Long Island City, New York was the source of this outbreak

Equinox Labs inaugurates 20,000sq ft food testing laboratory in Rabale

IMG_2539

Equinox Labs’ new food testing laboratory in Rabale, Navi Mumbai, was inaugurated by Suresh Deshmukh, joint commissioner, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Maharashtra, recently. The facility, which covers an area of 20,000sq ft, houses microbiology and chemistry laboratories, a seminar hall with a seating capacity of fifty and a sensory evaluation area.

In his inaugural address, Deshmukh said, “There is a dearth of good laboratories in India, and such facilities will fill the gaps in implementing food safety and compliance with the guidelines laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Every food business has to be approved and registered/a licensee under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, and Regulations (FSSR), 2011.”

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Equinox Labs organises workshop on how to face FDA’s food safety audit

Equinox-Labs-New-Logo-1

Equinox Labs organised a workshop titled ‘How to face a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) audit’ in Mumbai recently. The objective of the workshop was to address issues related to food safety and to assure full compensation to victims in case of injury and death.

Suresh Deshmukh, joint commissioner, FDA Maharashtra, said, “The Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, lays down provisions for registration and licensing modalities for food business operators (FBOs) till February 5, 2014 will ensure the decentralisation of licensing of food products and easy issuance of licenses within the time frame of two months.”

He further informed, “Only registration would be required for small food business operators. They would not require a license to operate.” The Act would ensure that the regulatory requirements are applied consistently and equitably across sectors and groups.

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FDA issues food-borne salmonellosis warning

food-safety-cp-584

PUNE: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the national food regulatory body, has issued an advisory following the outbreak of salmonellosis, a food-borne bacterial infection, in the US and New Zealand.

Use of Tahini sesame paste from Turkey in food preparations has been found to be the origin of the infection. The FSSAI issued the advisory in the country because imported sesame paste is used in Indian cuisine and there is a possibility that the product have entered our food chain.

“The particular outbreak appears to be over. However, this product has a long shelf-life and it may still be at people’s homes. The product has been recalled. Consumers unaware of the recall could continue to eat the product and fall sick. Hence, the FSSAI issued an advisory on June 19,” said Shashikant Kekare, joint commissioner (food), Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), Pune division.

FDA assistant commissioner Dilip Sangat said, “Soon after receiving the FSSAI’s advisory, we carried out thorough inspections at food stores that stock imported food items. We have not found Tahini sesame paste from Turkey. But there are chances that it may be used in households in Pune. Hence, people need to be made aware that they should immediately stop using the product. We are keeping a vigil to ensure that the product does not enter the city’s imported food supply chain.”

As per the FSSAI’s advisory, the recalled consignment of Tahini sesame paste has expiration dates from January 1 to June 8, 2014 and from October 16, 2014 to March 15, 2015. The manufacturer of the paste in Turkey is called GESAS Genel Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret A S of Konya, Turkey.

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The Danger of Chloramphenicol in Milk

milk

Chloramphenicol (CAP) is a naturally occurring, broad-spectrum antibiotic (Figure 1) that is artificially manufactured for use in veterinary and human medicine. Due to its adverse effects in humans, use of the antibiotic is restricted and, in some situations, prohibited. Increased legislation has led to the imposition of a ‘zero tolerance’ of CAP in food products by the European Council Regulation EEC No. 2377/90[1] and the technologies used in CAP detection being both improved and updated. A case study using the Bruker EVOQ™ Qube identifies CAP in milk matrix at 0.02 ppb, meeting the required minimum required performance level (MRPL) of 0.3 ppb.

CAP is a bacteriostatic antimicrobial effective against both Gram-positive and -negative bacteria. CAP was first introduced into clinical practice as ‘chloromycetin’ in 1949, derived from the bacterium Streptomyces venezuelae. By inhibiting protein synthesis, CAP stops protein growth. It prevents protein chain elongation by inhibiting the ribosome, directly interfering with the substrate binding.

A very small, extremely lipophilic molecule, CAP remains relatively unbound to proteins. These physiochemical properties give it excellent blood-brain barrier permeability and make it the primary treatment for staphylococcal brain diseases. As one of the first antibiotics to be synthetically mass manufactured, CAP was used as a first line of typhoid treatment. In the EU today, CAP is often restricted to use with serious infections and only when necessary. However, the prescribing of CAP for the treatment of optical conditions and in topical preparations is still common. CAP is also still prescribed frequently in developing countries due to its inexpensive high availability. With a long drug history across a number of countries, CAP has around 40 trade names, including Cedoctine (Egypt, intravenous preparation), Edrumycetin 250 (Bangladesh, capsule) and Vanmycetin (Hong Kong, eye drops).

Coimbatore Corporation to initiate action against eateries encroaching on parking space

The need to regulate roadside eateries in the city came up for discussion at the Coimbatore Corporation Council meeting on Tuesday. The issue was not about the quality of food served at the eateries. But the way they encroached upon the parking space.

The opening salvo was by the North Zone Chairman P. Rajkumar, who said that there was near zero parking space around the Nehru Stadium and near V.O.C. Park because the owners of the eateries spread out stools on roads, eating away parking space.

With the police regulating the parking of vehicles on Nanjappa Road, the city’s residents were left with little choice but to drive to the area around the Stadium to park.

Most of the vendors had 10 to 15 stools each and when spread over they occupied space that could otherwise accommodate two or three cars.

The quality of food they served needed to be verified if it was good, he said and also sought attention on the leftovers the eatery owners dump there. When they shut shop, they dumped food waste in the vicinity. The food so dumped attracted stray dogs.

The area around the Stadium and Park had seen an increase in the dog population and that threatened the elderly to went there for walking and sports persons who used the stadium around dawn.

Mr. Rajkumar wanted the Corporation to regulate the shops in such a way that they did not occupy parking space. A few other Councillors also joined him.

In doing so the Corporation should keep in mind that those who run the eateries were people from the lower strata of society and that their livelihood should not be disturbed, said S. Balan (Ward 62). Whether or not the eateries served quality food was a different issue. But they encroached upon the parking space and they needed to be regulated, said J. Sasirekha (Ward 72).

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Favorable Demographics and Rising Income Spurring Growth in the Indian Dairy Industry

Global market intelligence firm, Netscribes has launched its latest report on the “Dairy Market in India 2013.” The report elaborates the competitive market scenario of the Indian dairy market and its growth prospects in the ensuing years. The report states that the Indian dairy market is experiencing rising demand due to various driving factors, which in turn is providing huge opportunities for manufacturers to grow and operate in the market lucratively.

dairyThe Indian food and beverage industry is huge and highly competitive in nature. The industry comprises of several sub-sectors such as fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, dairy, marine products, grains and consumer foods. The dairy industry plays an important role in the socio-economic development of the nation by generating huge rural employment as well as cheap and nutritional food to the vast population. Though the dairy market in India is dominated by the unorganized sector, the organized sector has also shown remarkable growth in the last few years.

The report provides a snapshot of the Indian milk products industry which has witnessed several changes after the “Operation Flood” era. The dairy sector witnessed spectacular growth during 1971 and 1996 primarily due to integrated cooperative dairy development programmes conducted by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). Moreover, after liberalization and de-licensing in 1991, private sector also started entering the market, which further accelerated its growth. Major players of the Indian dairy market include Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Amul), Mother Dairy, Nestle India, Britannia Industries, Hatsun Agro and Heritage Foods, among others. In addition to this, a number of regional players have also entered the market in recent years, thereby making the market more competitive in nature.

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Punjab govt constitutes Punjab FDA by unifying food & drug departments

In a major step towards bringing the food and drug departments under a common regulatory body on the lines of Gujarat and Maharashtra, the Punjab government recently constituted the Punjab food and drug administration (FDA) by bringing both the Punjab state drug controlling authority and food authority under one roof.

With a view to streamline the work of this unified regulatory body in accordance with the respective laws, the state government last week appointed Husan Lal who earlier served as the secretary, social security, and managing director of Punjab Health Systems Corporation, as the first commissioner of the state FDA. With this strategic re-organisation, Punjab state joins the group of select few states in the country like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir to streamline and unify the two important departments under the same umbrella.

Hospital-food-001

Earlier, a high level delegation headed by Rupanjali Karthik, additional secretary, department of health and family welfare, government of Punjab had visited Gujarat FDCA in October last year to understand and gauge the effective ways of running the administration, prior to undergoing this change. Ajay Singla, state drug controller of the Punjab drug department, who was also a part of this delegation informed that this move signals the changing regulatory dynamics in the state, which will further help in strengthening the regulatory and administrative apparatus to meet new challenges.

With this reshuffling in the regulatory set up, the Punjab FDA will now be the central authority in the state overlooking the smooth functioning and monitoring of the various rules and regulations pertaining to the concerned Acts. “By unifying the two important departments under the same authority we will be able to implement the rules and regulations under the D&C Act and FSSAI Act more effectively throughout the state. Especially since the regulatory requirements and mechanisation for the implementation of both the Acts are almost in the same lines, helping us to effectively scrape the bottlenecks and other complications arising out of dual regulatory body,” Singla added.

According to Dr H G Koshia, commissioner, Gujarat Food & Drugs Control Administration, as a regulator it is more effective to regulate and monitor the food and the drugs departments under a common regulatory body. Further he pointed out that ever since the successful establishment of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, more states across the country are strongly considering to unify their food and drug departments under the same body for better administrative purpose.

It is reported that the state of Karnataka is seriously looking into the possibility of unifying the two important departments under the state health ministry under a uniform authority on the lines of Gujarat FDCA.

CAMPCO wants CFTRI to certify quality of imported arecanut

If the suggestion of a city-based cooperative finds takers, Mysore-based Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) could become the centre for testing the quality of imported arecanut.

This could prevent imports of substandard arecanut into the country.

Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd. (CAMPCO) has urged Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, to appoint the CFTRI as an authority to test the quality of imported arecanut.

At present there is no government-authorised arecanut testing facility in the country.

Konkodi Padmanabha, president of the cooperative, has written to the Minister urging him to instruct the CFTRI to set standard specifications of the characteristics of imported arecanut.

campco

“…We understand that till date there is no standard specification made available by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for arecanut…,” Mr. Padmanabha said in the letter dated June 3. As a result authorities at ports and those in the Public Health departments were not in a position to judge the quality of imported arecanut effectively.

The letter pointed out that an Arecanut Research and Development Foundation (ARDF) analysis here found four samples of imported arecanut unfit for human consumption due to fungal growth. The samples were sent by the Customs Department, Araria, Bihar, and the Revenue Intelligence Department, Muzaffarpur. But a court ruled that the ARDF was not a legally authorised agency to certify the quality of imported arecanut and the consignments were released later.

A testing centre was all the more important as 85 per cent (53,263 tonnes) of the arecanut imports in 2012-13 were from Bangladesh alone, as revealed by Nalin Kumar Kateel, MP.

M. Suresh Bhandary, managing director of CAMPCO, told The Hindu that food products had standard specifications regarding fat content, acid insoluble ash, PH level, total plate count, etc. In the absence of such specifications for arecanut, one cannot be sure of the quality of imported varieties, Mr. Bhandary said.

FSSAI proposes amendment to FSS Act; licensing clarified

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has notified Draft Regulations to amend the FSS (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.

In the said Draft Regulations, certain food additives have been proposed to be used in certain food products / ingredients in the quantity specified for those food products / ingredients.

FSSAI

The food additives proposed in the Draft Regulations to be used in certain food products are as under:

Polydextrose @ GMP in “Carbonated and Non-Carbonated Beverages”

Methyl Cellulose
max. 3% in “Salad Dressing / Mayonnaise”;
max. 2% in “Biscuits”;
max. 2% in “Preserved Chapatis”;
max. 3% in “Cakes”

Carboxymethyl Cellulose
@ GMP in “Dressing and Sauces”;
@ GMP in “Chocolates”;
@ GMP in “Sauces”

Potassium Iodate
– max. 50 mg / kg in “Bread”
Gellan gum @ GMP in “Sterilised and UHT dairy-based drinks.”

These additives were not in use for the said products earlier. But now the food authority has included these additives and invited objections or suggestions from the food and beverage industry on the use of these additives.

D V Malhan, executive secretary, All India Food Processors’ Association (AIFPA), told FnB News that the industry was looking into the draft amendment as it was recently made public. He added that these additives were there in the market but not allowed to be used for the said products.

“The authority must have done some study and documentation on the issue of these additives and we’d asked our members to comment on the issue. After getting comments we’ll discuss it and present suggestions before FSSAI,” he stated.

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Health department to crack down on gutka sale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HUBLI: The district administration will crack down on gutka manufacturers, dealers and sellers. Companies found manufacturing gutka will be penalized up to Rs 10 lakh while shops selling the product will have to forgo their licence and face legal consequences.

The administration has formed special teams consisting of health safety officers and health department officers to curb the sale of gutka in the district after the state has banned its sale. Special teams have been conducting raids and seizing gutka since a week. But now the teams will act tough penalizing violators.

The ban was a crucial step forward, but the challenge lay in its implementation. According to sources, after banning gutka products on June 1, initially, the government had not issued guidelines on how to implement the ban. But the district administration has received a clear set of guidelines on June 7 from the state government on how to deal with people who defy the ban. Based on this, the district administration chalked out a stringent action plan to act tough against gutka sellers and manufacturers, said sources.

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Ghulam Nabi Azad directs FSSAI to keep a tab on quality of packaged water

Taking cognisance of the complaints about the quality of packaged drinking water sold in the National Capital Region (NCR), health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has written to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s apex food regulator, directing it to check the bottling plants supplying packaged drinking water and the sources of the water.

The directive specifically pertained to the formation of surveillance teams to check the chemical content of water. It must be noted that there are standards set by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for the microbiological formation of the packaged water. BIS has set up limits for chemicals and heavy metals, in addition to other norms.

Ground water remains the source, but the process from purifying to bottling differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. According to the experts, the one- and two-litre variants of bottled water are generally safe. But in the cases of the 20-litre bottles and the mini-pouches, the chances of selling contaminated water are bright.

K C Chaudhary of Consumer Voice said, “There are serious flaws in bottling in the cases of the 20-litre bottles and pouches. Ground water is the source, but one of our previous studies, undertaken a few years ago, revealed that the norms were flouted as far as the 20-litre bottle was concerned.” He added that many of the samples failed during the testing, adding that the problem remained persistent, because the authorities responsible of implementing the regulations were not able to enforce it.

FnB News tried to contact some packaged water manufacturers in NCR, they refused to comment on their practices. Reports of these malpractices, which have emerged at a time when market research firms like Ikon Marketing Consultants estimate that packaged drinking water industry, which is growing at about 19 per cent per annum and could touch the Rs 10,000 crore-mark, are definitely a blow.

IBA

The Indian Beverage Association has welcomed the health ministry’s directive to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s apex food regulator, to look into the details of manufacturing practices of packaged water in the National Capital Region (NCR). Arvind Verma, general secretary, Indian Beverage Association (IBA), said the industry would comply with all the guidelines issued by the government, the industry.

Residential areas – New water hubs

Residential areas have emerged as the new hubs for unauthorised local packaged water units, whose proprietors are cashing in on the growing demand for bottled water and the failure of most municipal corporations in the country to meet it.

The fact that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) – the country’s apex food regulator – has paid no heed to health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s instruction that the water manufactured in these unauthorised units be checked yet has emboldened the business operators.

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2500 People in India Die Daily due to Tobacco Epidemic

The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. Mass media campaigns, graphic warnings and alternative crop options for tobacco growers can help stop or reduce the estimated 800,000-900,000 tobacco-attributable deaths per year in India, experts say.

According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) – India 2010, tobacco use is a major preventable cause of death and disease and is responsible 1 in 10 death among adults worldwide. Approximately 5.5 million people die around the world every year – with India accounting for nearly a fifth of this.

Shekhar Salkar, general secretary of National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE)-India said: “Everyday, almost 2,500 people die in India due to consumption of tobacco and smoking. Many people even suffer from asthma and bronchitis, other than cancer and heart attacks.”

According to WHO findings, hard-hitting anti-tobacco advertisements and graphic pack warnings, especially those that include pictures, have reduced the number of children who begin smoking and increased the number of smokers who quit in many countries.

In India, the average age of starting tobacco use is before 15 years, according to the GATS – India 2010 report.

Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, executive director at Voluntary Health Association of India, said “glamorisation of smoking” impacts young people, but counter messages during smoking scenes in films help in discouraging people.

It is believed that if celebrities are shown smoking, it influences impressionable minds. To counter that, a new law mandating a disclaimer about the evils of tobacco use has to be flashed while showing smoking scenes in films or on television.

To make disclaimers more efffecitve, Salkar felt they need to be more creative and innovative.

“A brief interview of those who were addicted to tobacco or cigarettes should be shown instead of the same old images,” Salkar told IANS.

For instance, filmmakers can attach clippings of celebrities talking about the harmful effects of tobacco with their films, he added.

Different people have different reasons to smoke. There is a segment of young smokers who resort to cigarettes to de-stress themselves. For such smokers, medical aid is the best option.

“Some students like to smoke so that they can study all night, some do it due to failed relationships or bad results. Smoking is not the answer. They need to take medical help or exercise, do yoga and relax the mind,” Salkar said.

Food habits can also help to a certain extent in preventing smoking.

Annapurna Agrawal, nutritionist at Snap Fitness India, put it interestingly, saying the solution is “sitting in the refrigerator”. Drink milk or eat carrots before smoking, she advised.

Explaining why, she said: “When these are taken before smoking, a bitter taste develops, which can discourage people from smoking.”

Also, if fruits rich in Vitamin C like lemons, oranges and amla are consumed in large quantity, it reduces the urge to smoke, Agrawal added.

The other way to do it is by eating salty items like pickles and chips.

Mukhopadhyay felt that more than anything, it is about “self-determination” and “family support”.

Various kind of anti-tobacco campaigns, methods and schemes are underway, but Salkar thought the government needed to take better steps.

“The government needs to convince farmers to not grow tobacco. They should be given incentives for growing other crops. This should be done gradually otherwise there will be a rise in farmer suicides,” he said.

It seems that every government body is doing its bit.

Health & Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has said that while the livelihoods of tobacco growers cannot be endangered, there is need to work toward moving farmers and farm workers out of the tobacco industry.

“We cannot indefinitely tolerate a public health hazard in the name of protecting livelihoods,” the minister said after releasing GATS – India 2010.

Later the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the apex body to ensure food quality in the country, under its Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011 restricted the use of products that contain any substance that may be injurious to health.

Its immediate effect was when Madhya Pradesh banned gutka and pan masala. Kerala, Mizoram, Gujarat, Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Delhi soon followed and most recent to join the list is Tamil Nadu.

Another area that needs to be focused on is establishing more and more economical rehabilitation centers to help addicts. Right now, the rehab centres and medications are few and far between and expensive.

FSSAI releases document differentiating between cassia & true cinnamon

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) – the country’s apex food regulator – recently released a document on cassia (known locally as taj) and cinnamon (locally known as dalchini). Among its contents were a brief description of coumarins and the differences between cassia and true cinnamon.

Introduction
Cassia is botanically known as Cinnamomum cassia blume; Cinnamomum burmannii; occidentalis; cassia tora; cassia obtusifolia; Cinnamomum cassia; Cinnamomum Cassia (nees) ex blume; Cinnamomum aromaticum (nees) syn; Cinnamomum burmannii (C G nees) blume and Cinnamumum loureini nees.

Cassia – which is incorrectly referred to as Ceylon cinnamon – is a member of the same family  to which cinnamon (which is also known as Chinese cinnamon, Java cinnamon, Padang cassia and Saigon cinnamon) belongs. However, what cassia and cinnamon do not have in common is their coumarin content.

Although cinnamon and cassia are related, they are not obtained from the same plant. They should be treated as separate foods, both from a nutritional and a health standpoint. Scientifically, there is only one true cinnamon, which is most commonly called Ceylon cinnamon and comes from the plant Cinnamomum zeylancium.

“In fact, cassia is often misnamed and mistaken for cinnamon, and is even marketed to the consumers through retail outlets as cinnamon. Since the price of the former is far lower than that of the former, traders have the tendency to mislabel cassia as cinnamon deliberately and encash the opportunity for their gain. Cassia is often used to adulterate cinnamon,” the FSSAI document pointed out.

Coumarins
Coumarins are naturally-occurring plant components present in cassia. They are chemical compounds from the benzopyrene family. While the level of naturally-occurring coumarins in Ceylon cinnamon appears to be very small and lower than the amount that could cause health risks, the level of naturally-occurring coumarins in cassia is higher and may pose a risk if consumed in large quantities regularly.

The chemical compositions of Ceylon cinnamon and cassia are different. In contrast to cassia, Ceylon cinnamon contains eugenol and benzyl-benzoate, but no (or at the most trace amounts of) coumarin. The level of coumarin in the bark of cassia varies considerably. They depend considerably on the respective sub-species or on the climatic conditions.

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Railways to launch SMS-based service for hygiene complaints

An On-site Passenger Complaint Redressal System (OPCRS) is being developed as envisaged in the Rail Budget 2013-14.

Railways have decided to launch an SMS-based service for immediate response to passenger complaints regarding housekeeping service in coaches.

The service will be launched on a few select trains to facilitate passengers to contact onboard staff through SMS or phone call for complaints related to cleanliness in coaches, toilets and other problems faced during journey.

railway-passengersAn On-site Passenger Complaint Redressal System (OPCRS) is being developed as envisaged in the Rail Budget 2013-14, a senior Railway Ministry official said.

The service is likely to be launched in either Mumbai Rajdhani or Bangalore Rajdhani as a pilot project soon.

As per the system, a passenger can send SMS for any issue related to coach housekeeping like dirty toilets, compartment or absence of liquid soap.

“Passengers will SMS his PNR on a common number like one being used for PNR inquiry,” the official said.

Railways have asked for a three-digit number from the Department of Telecommunication for the purpose.

Once the SMS is sent, the information will be registered on OPCRS connected with GSM network, and it will be immediately routed to a GSM hand held unit (mobile phone) available with housekeeping supervisor on train.

Simultaneously, an acknowledgement would be sent on the mobile phone of the complainant with a complaint ID with instruction to disclose the ID to the housekeeping supervisor after he attends to the problem to his satisfaction.

Housekeeping supervisor on receipt of passenger information would locate him, get briefing of his requirements and attend to the problem besides giving him feedback.

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