Last Updated on December 28, 2020 by The Health Master
Coriander in your kitchen affecting your health ?
CHENNAI: A garnish, sauce or a condiment — you name it, and that’s coriander for you. Almost no food is complete without a tinge of the green leaf as a whole, or its seeds in powdered form.
However, recently the substance has been under the scrutiny of food safety officials, for the spice producers have been using sulphur rampantly to fumigate it, so that it can be preserved for a longer period.
This has earned the wrath of 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 the use of sulphur in fumigation, the practice continues unabated among the traders.
A section of producers justified their action saying that they were willing to give up sulphur usage provided the government brought forth alternatives to preserve the spice. Sulphur helps the body resist bacterial infection, besides stimulating digestion.
However, ingesting too much sulphur may cause a burning sensation or diarrhoea. Breathing its dust too can irritate the airway or cause coughing. It can also be irritating to the skin and eyes. The merchants said that the presence of sulphur was too low and that it would not have any impact as coriander is generally not consumed directly.
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‘FSSAI set standards without considering practical constraints’
“During cooking, chemicals deposited on the leaves are destroyed naturally and will not harm the consumers,” said SP Jayaprakasam, president of Tamil Nadu Food Grains Merchants Association. The usage of sulphur helps coriander remain fresh for at least 15 days and kills insects. Jayaprakasam said the produce had to look fresh for at least one or two days at markets from where it was purchased by consumers.
According to industrial sources, about 15 to 20 per cent of the coriander demand in the State is met though the yield produced in Theni, Virudhunagar and Ariyalur districts, and over 80 per cent of the spice received from Gujarat and Rajasthan.
About 3,000 tonnes of coriander is produced in the three districts and supplied to various parts of the State and Kerala. The FSSAI standards prescribed for agriculture products are yet to be fully enforced in the State.
A section of grain producers said that it was nearly impossible to meet the standards given the parameters fixed without considering practical constraints. “These leaves dry out quickly and change colour.
We met scientific panels of both government and private institutions that said there were no alternatives for the same. Till an alternative emerges, we want the government to stop enforcing FSSAI standards on coriander , ”said Jayaprakasam.
Meanwhile, officials said that they had been creating awareness among the farmers and product manufacturers, asking them not to use the chemical in its preservation. “The issue is being looked into, seriously,” said the FSSAI official.