Back in 2008, infants and newborn’s died due to adulteration in their formula milk which further caused 6,200 children to fall sick. It is not uncommon for some unscrupulous producers to indulge in milk adulteration in Nepal as well. Milk is often a subject of fraud for financial gain. Water is the most common adulterant, which decreases the nutritive value of milk. If water is contaminated, for example with chemicals or pathogens are added to the milk, then it possesses serious health risks for consumers. Other cheaper materials are milk powder, urea and cane sugar. These additions have the potential to cause serious health problems to the consumer.
Milk in its natural form has high nutritive value since it comprises a wide variety of nutrients which are essential for the proper growth and development. In recent decades, especially in developing countries like Nepal, there is an increased demand for dairy products. Milk itself is not a high-risk commodity, but due to its relatively low cost – it has been prone to a massive level of fraudulent activity. These malpractices may increase food safety hazard and diminishes its nutritional value. It is sometimes adulterated to such an extent that it is not only low in nutrition but also toxic to health.
Not only in the dairy market, the excessive use of harmful chemicals can be found even more profoundly in farms and cold stores. Animals are often bred to have voracious appetites for weight gain. Their unusually large size is obtained from a diet of high carbohydrate only, which also results in a drop in protein in the meat. Despite, strict regulations imposed by the government - protocols such as ante-mortem inspection and health and hygiene maintenance are often ignored.
In case of livestock, synthetic growth hormones and other chemicals are used to help the animal gain weight. Nitrates are used to cure meat, to provide a fresh appearance of the meat. Nitrate, if consumed, produce nitrosamines, which is a compound believed to both cause and promote cancer. They are often injected with steroids to attain maturity at an early age.
The agricultural products aren’t any different in terms of malpractices as well. The increasing use of chemical pesticides in agriculture has led to the questioning of the quality of our food. The vegetable/fruits in Nepal show high pesticide residue and are dubbed unfit for consumption.
Thus, consumers must be aware of the kind of food they consume. Also, the authorities should realize the importance of frequent inspection of the market to check whether the products meet the minimum standard.
No food produce is poisonous on its own. The health hazards increase as food is contaminated with powerful pathogenic microorganisms.