Food safety officials put coriander under scanner

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Recently coriander has been under the scrutiny of food safety officials regarding the preservation technique used.

A sauce, garnish or a condiment — coriander has various applications. The substance, however, is being thoroughly examined as spice producers have been using sulphur uncontrollably to disinfect it so that it can be preserved for a longer period. Recently coriander has been under the scrutiny of food safety officials regarding the preservation technique used.

This has irked the health officials who raided multiple locations recently, resulting in its seizure in few places. Although it has been a year since the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) prohibited sulphur usage for fumigation, the practice continues rampantly among the traders.

Consuming too much sulphur may cause diarrhoea or a burning sensation. Breathing its dust can irritate the airways or cause coughing. It can also be irritating to the eyes and skin.

A section of grain producers said that given the fixed parameters, it was nearly impossible to meet the standards without considering practical constraints. The usage of sulphur kills insects and helps coriander remain fresh for at least 15 days. The merchants said that the presence of sulphur was low and that it would not have any adverse effect as coriander is generally not consumed directly.

They have justified their action by claiming that several private and government institutions said there were no alternatives for sulphur. They are willing to give it up provided the government brought forth alternatives for the same. But until then they “want the government to stop enforcing FSSAI standards on coriander.”

Ashwin Bhadri, CEO, Equinox Labs said, “This is a tough predicament. In India, almost no food is complete without a tinge of coriander (either as a whole, or its seeds in powdered form). Therefore, concern over this from some sections isn’t surprising.”

Bhadri continues, “However, FSSAI has been the apex food regulatory body in India for many years and has always operated in the best interest of everyone’s health. We are sure FSSAI will come up with a solution to the green leaf problem.”

The FSSAI officials said that they had been creating awareness among the product manufacturers and farmers asking them not to use the chemical in its preservation.

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