Category Archives: Food

Chemical Banned in Several Countries Killed 23 Children in Bihar Midday Meal Incident


In the tragic incident in Bihar, India, where 23 children died and 25 others injured after eating the midday meal provided by their school, health authorities blamed the deaths on pesticide poisoning. Scientists found monocrotophos – an organophosphorus compound – in the cooking oil and food consumed by these children and attributed the tragedy to that.

While a lot of attention is being given to improving the safety and quality of food supplied to children in schools, which is a great, there is little written on the pesticide used.

Pesticides Kill

For Your Health, Eat Local Fruits and Vegetables


In a well-researched article in Down to Earth, Latha Jishnu says that imported food has been proliferating in India and has been growing dramatically in volume. The food industry, says Jishnu, attributes this increase to the “modern Indian consumer”, “a trendy, health conscious eater aware of global consumption patterns and ready to splurge that extra bit on foods seen as nutritious and of better quality”. This is in addition to the long distances that food is being transported within the country.

Artificial Food Colors and Dyes May Have Adverse Health Effects


Have you been fascinated by the plethora of colors that adorn those trays of sweets at the neighborhood baker’s? Or those colored dishes at the buffet, like the bright red colored tandoori chicken? What about colored soft drinks, ice creams and candies? Most of them have one thing in common – artificial chemical colors and dyes.

Stay Away From Vanaspati (Hydrogenated Oils or Trans-fat)


If you look up at the ingredients list in cookies, biscuits and a host of other processed food products, you would find a very harmless-looking ingredient – hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenated oil, also called trans-fat or vanaspati, is added to food primarily because they have a very long shelf-life and don’t melt easily (1). Hydrogenation makes oil less likely to spoil and makes the food look less greasy (2). What is hydrogenated oil? Hydrogenated oil, or trans-fat, is made by bubbling hydrogen through oil at a very high temperature. This turns the liquid oil into solid fat, creating chemical bonds which have similar structure to plastic (1). Yes, plastic - that was not a typo.

Dangers of MSG, a Common Food Ingredient in “Indian Chinese” Dishes


A major comfort food in India is the so-called “Chinese”. Be it from a trendy upscale Chinese restaurant or from a street side food peddler selling it for a few rupees, Chinese food in India has a special taste to it. But many people find it impossible to replicate such taste and deliciousness when they cook at their homes. The secret ingredient that gives this special taste is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), also known as Ajinomoto. Well, this is really not a secret ingredient in Chinese food in India, but the dangers associated with MSG may be unknown to many people. Remember, MSG is not usually added to any Indian dishes but is generously used in the Indianized Chinese food. Indian food itself uses a wide variety of spices that naturally add flavor to them and have no use for a chemical taste enhancer. The irony of it all is that cooks in China rarely use MSG as an ingredient while cooking!

Most Milk in India Adulterated, Sometimes With Toxic Chemicals


According to the Government of India, over 68 percent of milk in the country does not conform to the standards set by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. Though the most common adulteration method was addition of water, they have found several samples in which highly toxic and carcinogenic substances were used. Materials such as urea (color), detergent (for foaming), hydrogen peroxide, refined oil (fat), caustic soda