There are plenty of unhealthy food items that can come to our minds – from instant noodles to chips, packaged namkeen and whatnot. But there are some food items that are extremely unhealthy that they are actually banned in India. This is the only reason why you probably haven’t heard of them. 

Food Safety and Standards Association of India (FSSAI) is the government body responsible for standardising food items and regulating their manufacturing, distribution, storage, import and sales to ensure the safety of food items for human consumption.

These food items have been banned for safety reasons, health concerns and environmental issues that affect not just the customers but also the ecosystem. 

Here is a list of food items banned in India 

Chinese milk and milk products 

You must know about the ban on Chinese e-commerce websites and mobile applications during the COVID wave. These weren’t the first Chinese products and services banned in India. Chinese milk and the products made through it are also banned in India. The ban came in 2008 following reports of food contamination and safety issues. 

Melamine, a contaminant was found in these products. This chemical is added to increase protein levels, which comes with significant health risks. To ensure public safety and health, a ban has been imposed on the sale and import of these products in India. 

Genetically modified foods

These are foods produced from organisms subjected to genetic engineering, wherein a few modifications are introduced in their DNA as against traditional cross-breeding methods. Several restrictions have been imposed on the cultivation and import of crops and foods derived from this method. Potential health risks, environmental impact and biodiversity loss have been the primary reasons for the ban. 

However, several crops such as cotton are permitted for commercial cultivation, but the approval process for GM food crops remains strict. 

Artificial ripening agents 

As the name suggests, the artificial ripening of fruits is the process that controls the ripening to get the desired qualities of the fruits. As ripening is a natural and long process, it is speeded with the help of a few chemicals. While some of these chemicals such as calcium carbide are banned from being used as ripening agents, others such as ethylene gas have been permitted to be used for the process.  However, its concentration has been regulated – up to 100 ppm (100µl/L). As per FSSAI, “Ethylene, being a natural hormone does not pose any health hazard to consumers.  The external application of ethylene gas generated from various sources such as ethylene gas cylinders, compressed ethylene gas, ethanol, ethephon, etc. can be used on fruits to trigger the ripening process in fruits. But any source of ethylene gas coming in direct contact with fruits is not permitted.” 

Potassium bromate 

This ban was imposed by FSSAI in 2016, against the usage of potassium bromate. It is added to foods to enhance bread volume and dough elasticity. Research has associated bromate with an increased risk of cancer. Hence, regulatory authorities have been encouraged to prohibit its use in bread and bakery products. 

Sassafras oil 

Sassafras oil is derived from the roots of the species of Sassafras. These have a toxic compound, safrole, present in high concentrations, which can lead to heart disease and even death. It is poisonous if taken in high concentration. This is because sassafras oil contains high levels of erucic acid, exceeding the permissible limit. 

Silver leaf 

Silver leaf is not banned, but its usage has been restricted by FSSAI. It is most commonly used as a piece of decoration on barfis, kaju katli and pethas. Several reservations have been made regarding the preparation, which includes adding silver inside animal skin. In addition, it is also commonly found in adulterants and contains lead, nickel, chromium, and cadmium which are known to be hazardous and unhealthy for humans.

Closing thoughts 

The regulations surrounding banned and restricted food items in India underscore the government’s commitment to public health and safety. While these measures may inconvenience some, they are crucial in safeguarding consumers from potential harm and ensuring the integrity of the nation’s food supply. 

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