How Unsafe Is Your Food

2015-12-24 10:50:59



Mercury in fish

The mercury seaps into the fish, which are subsequently consumed by humans. The researchers determined that up to 80 percent of the toxic form of mercury, called methylmercury, found in the tissues of deep-feeding North Pacific Ocean fish is produced deep in the ocean, most likely by bacteria clinging to sinking bits of organic matter. Previously, it was believed that mercury is accumulated in fish via a process known as bio-accumulation where fish get mercury in their system by eating smaller, mercury-laden fish.

The latest study shows that a major source of methylmercury are the anaerobic bacteria that live in a region called surface mixed layer, which extends to about 165 feet below the ocean surface. Researchers found that methylation also occurred at 2,000 feet, mostly carried out by bacteria that feed on dead matter such as plants or animal bits that have inorganic mercury.

Mercury can affect humans' central nervous system, the heart and the immune system. Mercury exposure is associated with brain and kidney damage and poor health of heart and immune system. Pregnant women can pass mercury to their babies and so are advised to lower their consumption of foods that are known to contain high levels of mercury such as sea-food.

  Arsenic presence in Rice

FDA is conducting a detailed inspection of the arsenic level in rice being sold in the American market, including those of basmati variety imported from India. While an analytical study of more than 1,300 samples of rice and rice products, including basmati from India, did not show any alarming levels of arsenic presence, the FDA will now conduct a "comprehensive risk assessment" study to determine the long-term impact of the arsenic found in rice. While most crops don't readily take up much arsenic from the ground, rice is different because it takes up arsenic from soil and water more readily than other grains.

Salmonella bacteria in the spices

Spice may be nice, but spices also can carry very bad bugs. About 7 percent of spice imports examined by federal inspectors were contaminated with salmonella, a toxic bacteria that can cause severe illness in humans. The shares of imported spices contaminated with insect parts and salmonella were twice those found in other types of imported food. After spices are harvested from plants, they're often laid on the ground to dry. Salmonella comes from birds and other animals, so the animals are getting access to the spices somewhere in picking, drying, processing or storage. the industry’s problems result not from poor harvesting practices but poor storage and processing.

Cooking is the same as pasteurization, which is a commercial method used to kill salmonella. Just make sure you get it hot enough. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that salmonella is killed at 160 C F. The bacterium was most common in coriander, basil, oregano, sesame seeds, pepper, cumin and curry powder. Ground and cracked spices were slightly more likely to be contaminated than whole spices.  Salmonella bacteria in the spices and other food products exported by them to the US between 2009 and 2013. 

Urea and Detergent in milk

70 per cent milk samples collected across the country in India by food safety authority did not conform to standards. The results of a first-of-its-kind survey on milk by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) reveal something startling—most Indians are consuming detergents, Urea and other contaminants through milk.  The Indian Council of Medical Research has reported that “milk adulterants have hazardous health effects. The detergent in milk can cause food poisoning and other gastrointestinal complications. Its high alkaline level can also damage body tissue and destroy proteins. Other synthetic components can cause impairments, heart problems, cancer or even death. While the immediate effect of drinking milk adulterated with urea, caustic soda and formalin is gastroenteritis, the long-term effects are far more serious.” Urea can lead to vomiting, nausea and gastritis. Urea is particularly harmful for the kidneys, and caustic soda can be dangerous for people suffering from hypertension and heart ailments.

Source: New York Times