Hyderabad: If the saying, ‘You are what you eat’ is true, then according to a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Indians are no more than fat and sodium.
The study, published on Tuesday, was conducted on popular processed foods and has set alarm bells ringing about the dangers of packaged and fast food sold in markets across the country.
High levels of salt and fat were found in 14 samples of popular brands of chips, namkeen, instant noodles and instant soup and in 19 samples of burgers, fries, fried chicken, pizza, sandwich and wraps.
The study results show that most popular brands have very high content of fat and sodium which is also the root cause of heart diseases. The tests were conducted by CSE’s Environment Monito-ring Laboratory (EML). The samples of the above-mentioned foods were collected from grocery stores and fast food outlets popular across the country.
CSE director-general Sunita Narain said: “We have found dangerously high levels of salt and fat in all the packaged food and fast food samples that we tested. We consumers have the right to know what is contained in the package. But our food regulator, the FSSAI, is dragging its feet and has not notified its own draft labelling regulation. This is clearly because of pressure from the powerful food industry. This is not acceptable. This is compromising our right to know and our right to health.”
In the chips and namkeen category, among all the brands tested, a brand endorsed by Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli as a smart snack had the maximum salt content -- 1 g in 30 g of chips.
In other words, 30 g of this product gives double the day’s allowance of salt from a snack!
Namkeens like bhujia, mixture have very high salt levels as do samples of burgers, pizzas, and sandwiches.
There are more traditional snacks low in fats and salt, such as corn on the cob or just plain boiled corn. As it turns out, most of the contemporary snacks sold in the markets, are easy on the pocket and that is what makes them so widely consumed.
“Since the most widely consumed snacks are economical, people gravitate towards it. Most widely consumed snacks like, punugulu, samosas and others are available for Rs 10 or less, whereas a snack like boiled corn is not widely available,” said Dr Latha Sashi, who is a consultant nutritionist at the Fernandez Hospital.