21 October, 2020

Lethal Condiments

Beware, you may be eating your way through a slow, but sure poisoning

Lethal Condiments

IN February this year, S. Ajay Kumar, a food inspector with the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, bought a kilo of goat liver from a local market. While it was being cooked, the liver gave off a strong odour of bleaching powder. His suspicion aroused, Kumar tasted a morsel. So did his daughter. Both were laid up for four days with diarrhoea and vomiting. Bleaching powder, he says, is commonly used to arrest the process of dehydration in meat after slaughter, which leads to a loss in weight and results in a drop in profits.

Four years ago, Anil Agarwal, director of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, started seeing black spots. Doctors, suspecting a fungal infection, advised an immediate operation, lest he turn blind. But Agarwal flew to the US for a second opinion. Doctors diagnosed it as a rare kind of cancer, earlier cases of which had been linked to pesticides. Agarwal returned home and did a study. Indians, he found, had the highest levels of pesticide residues in their bodies. He is convinced that was how he got...



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