If you are using newspapers to soak oil from the deep-fried food you cook at home, then, it is a wrong choice.
Perhaps you are the one who likes to venture out with friends near the roadside eatery shops and consume a plate full of fried chips and samosas wrapped in newspapers. With coronavirus looming large and lockdown measures to have slowly eased in phases, restaurants and shops have re-opened and people in large numbers are thronging roadside eateries and food cafes to grab their favourite cuisine, after a tumultuous restrain period. While eating, it is not possible to keep masks on and food being served by multiple servers, at times, rolled in newspapers is raising the risks of COVID-19 and several chronic ailments.
While we all use newspapers for reading every morning with a sip of tea or coffee and get acquainted with daily events happening across the city and the nation, most us are unaware of the significant health hazards newspaper foils can cause if we tend to wrap our foods in one.
Wrapping food in newspapers even used for temporary or short-term food packaging can absorb oils present in food snacks and deep-fried items and when combined with newspaper ink can work as cyanide, leading to cancers and are a death trap. Wrapping food materials in newspapers is a bad sign for your health as newspaper ink has multiple presence of bioactive substances which have negative health effects, as per Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. FSSAI advisory mentions the presence of harmful colours, pigments, binders, additives and harmful preservatives apart from chemical contaminants in the form of pathogens in used newspaper parts posing risks for human body. Paper or cardboard boxes constituted of recycled papers are chiefly made of chemicals like phthalate which can trigger digestive problems along with extreme toxicity.
Consuming Food Items Wrapped in Newspapers Can Cause Cancer
It is known fact that newspapers are printed with ink that is dissolved on the material with the help of chemical solvents. Studies have indicated that printing ink present in newspapers can easily percolate into food items wrapped in newspapers or food served in them and can cause health impairments. The solvent used for the absorption of ink in newspapers is a carcinogenic. Newspapers and carboard boxes used for packaging food items are chiefly made of recycled paper which is a hub of chemical substitutes like diisobutyl phthalate and di-n-butyl phthalate leading to digestive troubles.
Recycled papers are composed of printing ink residues which are stored from earlier printing processes and the trapped in residues are loaded with hormone disrupting elements in the form of benzophenones and mineral oils. The substances can cause a major disruption in the reproductive cycle, particularly in women.
Why Say No to Wrapping Food in Newspapers?
Research has shown canned food and drinks, newspapers used for packing food and cosmetic products including lead-based paints, industrial emissions, significant exposure at battery manufacturing units and diety-making establishments are all potential contributors to lead poisoning. Building up of lead in the body can be fatal as lead is a toxic metal. Usually developing over a period of several months or years, lead poisoning results in severe physical and mental impairments and damage. The phenomenon can be especially harmful for children as their brains are still in the developing stages.
Disease Trauma: What Can Poorly Packed Foods Do to Your Body?
Poorly packed food items can result in food poisoning. Food poisoning is the result of eating food infected with bacteria, viruses, deleterious chemicals or poisonous metals such as lead or cadmium. Food which has become contaminated with harmful bacteria does not change its colour or taste, and smells normally. Poor food handling practices in home or food outlets can result in salmonella food poisoning. Symptoms can range from nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, fever and headache and can last between 3 and 21 days. It can even result in death in very young, weak or old people.
Food poisoning caused by clostridium bacteria found in soil and intestines of animals including cattle, poultry, fish and humans is common. People can get clostridium food poisoning from poor food handling practices at home, in factories or food shops related to cooking and storage temperatures.
Symptoms can range from stomach pains, diarrhoea apart from nausea and vomiting. Food can be infected with disease-causing bacteria anywhere it is likely to be handled or stored. Leaving food uncovered, sneezing or coughing near food or storing food in an unhygienic manner can cause food poisoning bacteria to grow and settle on food being prepared.
Safe Ways to Pack your Food
Temperature and nature of food items play significant roles in packing food items without health risks. Some of the ways to safer handling include:
- The foremost step to food safety is to wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Cutting boards, utensils and dishes need to be washed with hot, soapy water after preparation of each food item to ensure sanitation.
- It is always advisable to rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water before consuming and packing them in containers.
- Packaging materials like paper, plastic bags, food wraps and aluminium foil should not be re-used to avoid cross-contamination.
- Insulated containers should be used for food items like soups and stews. We need to fill the container with boiling water, let it stand for up to few minutes and then add hot food after emptying it. The process helps minimize bacterial contamination.
- Perishable food items that cannot be put in refrigerators while traveling outside should be kept cold by putting freezer gel packs or a frozen box.
- One should serve food in materials like stainless steel, dry leaves, or glass vessels to avoid germs and bacteria from entering. Suitable actions can be taken against vendors mandatorily using newspapers to wrap food to prevent such practice.
Newsprint packaging is a popular practice in developing nations as a low-cost measure imbibed by vendors to gain profits. Moreover, lack of knowledge and awareness on possible alternatives is a major booster. If a single vendor makes a choice to use safe packaging and bears all the costs to stay competitive with other vendors using newspapers, the vendor would have to struggle hard to stay in the business.
Usage of newsprint for purposes of wrapping would turn out to show its ‘true colours’, placing undue risks in the functioning of major organs and tissues in the body involved in the process of detoxification. To how far, exposure to newsprint can generate immediate health nuances is a subject to be explored in greater depth.
(Written By Shivani Priyam, Sub Editor, Onlymyhealth)
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