By Waseem Akram
What is food adulteration?
Food adulteration is the act of spoiling the nature and quality of food items, by adding or mixing of poor quality, inferior, harmful, substandard, useless or unnecessary substances to it. Prevalence of substandard, unhygienic food and food the rampant, unchecked, adulteration of food is emerging as a major social issue, posing serious health risks to many in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Adulteration can be seen and noticed everywhere, in most edible items industrially produced outside and transported to the region. Even medicines are not spared. Blinded by the greed for profits, the merchants of death are transporting adulterated products, even those meant for infants.
It goes without saying that adulterated food is dangerous; it may be toxic and lethal, and may also affect the growth of body and mind.
I am an inhabitant of district Ghizer where I have witnessed numerous products and food items which are unhygienic, copied labels of famous brand, substandard, and even expired. Locals, with little choice and voice, continue to buy these products, because the enforcers are unable to control the quality of products being transported to Gilgit-Baltistan every day in hundreds of vehicles. The result of this mass adulteration will lead to emergence of a health crisis, tell-tale signs of which are already visible.
It is an established fact that healthy people not only can work effectively and efficiently in their careers, but they can also dedicate more time to socially progressive and developmental activities. Numerous studies validated the significant positive relationships between health indicators and economic growth. Better health indicators, especially in childhood, such as proper balances diet will secure from the infectious diseases.
The substandard food consist of chemicals and artificial ingredients which causes serious diseases like cancer, stomach disorder, food poisoning and which also decreases the immune system of the human. As we are facing the global pandemic of Covid-19 and its important to boost up over immune system by intake of balanced diet. Minerals, salts, proteins, carbohydrates, fat, and vitamins are the important ingredients for sound body and mind. Food is the basic need of human because food is needed to produce growth, to repair wear and tears of body tissues and to produce energy and heat. Without vitamins all the food is useless, like so much dead matters-lifeless. In order to have a diet which helps the body to resist diseases, it is obvious that we should have selected diet which should contains several elements in it but unfortunately in Gilgit-Baltistan and especially in District Ghizer the supply of adulterated food items and other products are at its peak.
It is not difficult to imagine the impact of using adulterated milk, ‘cooking oil’, rice, soft drinks, juices, Ghee, bakery items, pickles, sweets on the health of the society. Add to this the numerous fake brands of personal care items, like soap and Shampoo, and you have a perfect storm of health crisis brewing.
The activities of food department officials are confined to photo-ops for regional newspapers, where inspectors are routinely portrayed “raiding” shops to confiscate “expired” items. They effectively ignore the fact that even the food items that are not “expired” may be lethal, because of their chemical composition, and because of addition of chemicals.
Without disrupting the supply lines, by establishing strict control on flow of edible items to the region, the issue cannot be dealt. The government, the society and the state will have to come together to put an end to the flow of poisonous edible items affecting the lives and health of Gilgit-Baltistan’s residents.
The contributor is a ‘social activist’ from Ghizer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org