Is the milk you are having safe? Here’s what you need to know
Before you plan to gorge on mithai this festival season, consider a shocking fact. Two out of every three Indians drink milk adulterated with detergent, caustic soda, urea and paint. That’s what Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan had told the Lok Sabha in 2016. He was quoting a nationwide survey conducted by FSSAI, India’s food regulator. Recently, an Animal Welfare Board report revealed that 68.7 per cent of the milk production in the country, along with milk by-products, was found to be laced with polluted ingredients.
Why is so much milk adulterated?
Increased demand for milk products during the festival season leads to rampant adulteration. Since milk and milk products constitute such a huge market, adulteration is an easy way to make money for many people. It cuts production costs and boosts profit margins. Last month, the crime branch of the Pune police seized 4,852 kg of adulterated khoya, a dairy product used for making a variety of sweets, from a bus. While adulteration peaks during the festival season, the huge milk economy of India ensures that adulteration is an easy money-making opportunity round the year.
How is milk adulterated?
Though water remains the most common milk adulterant, increasingly detergent, caustic soda, glucose, white paint and refined oil are being used to adulterate milk. Water thins the milk but other adulterants make it appear thick. Adulterants like salt, detergents and glucose add to the thickness and viscosity of the diluted milk while starch prevents its curdling. So non-water adulterants make it difficult for a consumer to suspect that the milk is difficult for a consumer to suspect that the milk is diluted or adulterated.
Dangers of adulterated milk
Adulterated milk can impair the functioning of various organs of the body, causing heart problems, cancer, and in extreme cases, even death. According to a recent advisory issued by the World Health Organisation, if adulteration isn’t put to a stop, a large chunk of India’s population would be suffering from serious and fatal diseases like cancer by the end of 2025.
What to do?
It’s doesn’t take much to find out if your milk is adulterated. A few quick and easy tests can tell you if your milk is laced with any adulterant. There are also adulteration test kits available in the market today. Although a little pricey, these kits are helpful to use. These days premium and organic milk is also available. Many start-ups have appeared in big cities which provide such milk at nearly double the price of ordinary milk.
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There are many ways to check the quality of the food products we eat every day. However, most of them require the assistance of professionals or special equipment.
Pay attention to the white stripes and thick layer of fat on chicken breasts. It means farmers injected growth hormones into the poultry, and the chickens gained weight way too fast. Such meat is not good for your health.
The colour is also a very important thing to pay attention to: if it’s yellowish, it’s not fresh. Raw chicken breasts should be pink and should not be too soft.
A drop of iodine will help you check if your cottage cheese contains starch. If it does, the stain will become deep blue, and if it doesn’t the colour will stay yellow or brown.
Leave some cottage cheese at room temperature. If it contains vegetable fats, it’ll go yellow. After this test, fresh cottage cheese may taste sour but won’t change colour.
Pour some honey onto a surface. Fake honey drips and immediately spreads on the surface. High-quality honey is quite thick, and it trickles in a thin stream.
If you taste caramel flavour, it means your honey has already been heated up. If you can taste excessive sweetness, it means this honey contains white sugar.
To check if sour cream contains vegetable fats, stir a spoonful of sour cream into a glass of hot water. A product of poor quality will produce white flakes. Real sour cream will become a homogeneous thick liquid.
Frozen veggies, berries, and fruits
Check if a package of frozen product has snow or pieces of ice in it. If it does, it hasn’t been stored properly. Choose products that have frost on them.
Fresh fish shouldn’t have cloudy eyes, and healthy gills are always a bright red colour. Its skin should have a naturally metallic glow, and scales must be tightly attached to the body.
When choosing meat, press it with your finger. Fresh meat should be resilient enough to make your fingerprint disappear.
Cut a big piece in half: if the meat is dark but has white contours, it means its shelf life was extended with additives. Pat it dry with a paper towel – fresh meat shouldn’t leave too much moisture and blood on the towel.
Hold a bunch of dill, for example. If the leaves hang over the sides, it’s already wilted. Plus, if the colour is too dark and the stems are too long, it means it contains nitrates. Fresh herbs are always a natural green colour.
You can easily spot cheese that contains vegetable fats. It’ll crumble when you cut it (not applicable to hard types of cheese like cheddar), and it’ll dry out and develop cracks when left without a package.
Leave some cheese at room temperature. A high-quality product will just become softer, but if it dries out and moisture appears on it, better let it go.
Leave your favorite ice cream at room temperature. If it contains vegetable fats, it’ll stay frozen for longer and eventually melt into a liquid.
Ice cream with good-quality ingredients will melt into a thick white creamy substance.
What are calorie counting and carb counting?
When you’re trying to lose weight, calorie counting and carbohydrate counting are two approaches you can take.
Calorie counting involves applying the principle of “calories in, calories out.” To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you eat.
Carbohydrate counting is an eating method that involves counting the number of carbohydrates you take in for your meals and snacks. Carbohydrates, such as starchy, sugary, and refined foods, can be common sources of fat and empty calories in a person’s diet. By emphasizing healthier, lower-carbohydrate choices, a person will ideally eat in a way that promotes weight loss.
Like calorie counting, the approach you take to carbohydrate counting depends on your daily carbohydrate goal. One example could be to get about 45 percent of your calorie intake each day from carbohydrates. If you eat 1,800 calories per day, this would be about 810 calories from carbohydrates or 202.5 grams per day. You would then portion these out by your daily meals and snacks.
A general example could be 45 grams of carbohydrates per three meals a day and 30 grams of carbohydrates per two snacks a day.
Each weight loss method has its own pros and cons, and one may appeal to you more than the other given your overall eating patterns. It’s possible to incorporate considerations from each approach for weight loss.
Reading food labels using both approaches
Reading food labels is an important part of either diet approach. When you are using a calorie counting approach, you are reading the calories per serving. The “per serving” portion is an important consideration. The food you are considering eating may contain more than one serving. You would need to take this into account.
Carbohydrates are also listed on a food label. Three listings are for carbohydrates:
- Total carbohydrates means the total number of carbohydrates present in the food.
- Dietary fibre is the amount of the food that contains dietary fibre and therefore isn’t digested. Fibre can add bulk to your stool and make you feel fuller, longer. Healthier foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, tend to be higher in fiber.
- Sugars are monosaccharides and disaccharides (the smallest and simplest types of carbohydrates) that are found naturally or added to foods and beverages. While some foods like fruits naturally have sugars, others have sugars added to them. Because excess sugar can mean extra calories, a spike in blood sugar, and “empty” calories that don’t help you feel full, you usually want to avoid these foods.
Pros of calorie counting:
- You can easily read a nutritional label and get a number to count toward your daily intake.
- A low-calorie diet can benefit health conditions associated with obesity like high blood pressure and heart disease.
Cons of calorie counting:
- Calorie counting doesn’t take into account your nutritional needs, only your intake of calories.
- Cutting calories to an unhealthy level (usually less than 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day) can be a harmful way to lose weight.
Medical conditions for each approach
Doctors don’t usually recommend a low-calorie diet for any one particular medical condition. However, a low-calorie diet can benefit most health conditions associated with obesity, such as high blood pressure or heart disease.
Carbohydrate counting is an approach those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes commonly use to maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout the day. Those with diabetes may need to take insulin so their bodies can use carbohydrates for energy. By using a carbohydrate counting approach, they are better able to predict how much insulin will be needed.
Pros of carbohydrate counting:
- This approach can be beneficial for those who must watch their carbohydrate intake, like people with diabetes.
- You can easily read a nutritional label and get a number to count toward your daily intake.
Cons of carbohydrate counting:
- Not all foods contain carbohydrates. For example, a porterhouse steak doesn’t have carbohydrates, but is very high in fat and calories.
- Watching carbohydrates alone doesn’t guarantee a healthy diet.
Takeaways for each approach
The decision to eat healthier is a positive one, whether that approach is via calorie or carbohydrate counting. Keep these thoughts in mind for each approach:
- If you choose low-calorie, don’t let your calories go too low in an attempt to lose weight faster. This will make you feel weak. Additionally, your body has protective mechanisms that may actually keep you from losing weight if you eat too little.
- If you choose carbohydrate counting, you’ll still need to establish an average daily calorie count and percentage of calories from carbohydrates.
- Nutritionally “healthier” foods are the best choices in both approaches: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lean proteins are usually your best options.
Your nutritional needs may increase based on your height, weight, and daily exercise. Talk to a doctor or dietitian to first establish a healthy calorie and carbohydrate intake for your health.
Food Quality represents the sum of all properties and assessable attributes of a food item. Usually this is done by the three accepted categories of quality: sensoric value, suitability value and health value. All three deal with assessments, that is, judgements with a subjective component.
Differentiating your products through quality: For any brand,food safety is an essential building block of brand’s success. Many consumer assume the food they buy in the supermarket or a restaurant is inherently safe. When their expectations are not met (e.g. in case of the food borne illness outbreak) they become mistrustful and as a result business and brand reputation suffers long lasting consequences (1) The sensation-seeking media isn’t making it easy for brands to recover from bad press. People avoid buying your product or spend their lunch money elsewhere. Customer goodwill evaporates seemingly overnight. Revenues plummet and market value is lost. Consumer’s good will and brand equity take years to build- one incident can ruin it in just a few days. Investing in quality and food safety is an important measure of your brand equity. Food safety and quality KPI should absolutely be considered as one of the measures your brand’s health.
Keeping your customers happy through increasing transparency: Today’s consumer wants to know how their food is made- transparency is the key here (2) Recent study shows that 94% of consumers want to know about about what is in their food and how it’s made (3) . If there is no transparency, many suspect the food (especially the processed kind) made from chemicals they cannot pronounce and the GMO- derived ingredients in a lab. To combat this perception why not show them how the product is made? Delivering on customer’s expectation of seeing how the product is put together through manufacturing and supply chain transparency not only will delight your consumer but also will bring valuable differentiation to your brand. Tools like Instagram stories or Facebook Live feature can be utilized to show your food safety measures, showcase your product integrity. When it comes to food safety, show and tell is an innovative and differentiating tool for your marketing and branding efforts.
Empowering your team: educating your team and being consistent in positive reinforcement of the food safety practices is essential for building strong food safety culture. Understanding the science behind the principles of food safety will empower them to do the right thing. An educated and empowered staff is more likely to take pride in what they do and the safety measures they help to maintain and reinforce. As a business and team leader I have found the most effective way of building a food safety system is partnering with your team and making them equal stakeholders in the process.
Aligning the incentives to improve food safety: is your QA team report up to manufacturing/operations or to R&D/Marketing? This can make a huge difference in how their success is measured. The truth is- in many companies QA reports to the manufacturing or operations which means their success depends on KPI’s that are set for manufacturing success, not necessarily always ensuring quality. It is time that the companies realize that quality and food safety are as important to brand maintenance as ad spend or consistency of brand image and communication.
Some of the changes above might take time to implement and some might be easier to put in practice in a short term. The important part is to start making progress- understand what food safety practices your business has in place, note what improvements are needed, partner with trusted professionals and food safety consultants, educate your team and treat food safety and quality as an important branding tool. Your consumers and your team and shareholders will thank you for it.
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When was the last time you thought about your cholesterol? It can be easy to forget about unless you’ve recently been to the doctor, since high cholesterol doesn’t usually come with noticeable symptoms. While medication may be necessary in some situations, making dietary changes is often enough to manage cholesterol naturally. We’ve put together a list of the nine best foods to lower your cholesterol, in addition to a little preface on the difference between “good” cholesterol (HDL) and “bad” cholesterol (LDL).
“Good” Cholesterol vs. “Bad” Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in our cells. You may have heard people use the terms “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. They’re referring to HDL and LDL. Because cholesterol can’t dissolve in the blood, it has to be carried through your blood by lipoproteins.
LDL is labelled the “bad” cholesterol because it creates plaque, which clogs your arteries. If a major clog occurs, it can result in stroke or heart attack. The “good” cholesterol in your body is your HDL. HDL is good because it helps remove LDL from your arteries and transport it back to your liver, keeping your arteries clear. You also have triglycerides, which are fats carried in the blood from the food you eat-you want your triglyceride count to be low, like your LDL cholesterol.
What Is Considered High Cholesterol? And Why Is It Dangerous?
High Cholesterol is one of the leading causes of heart disease. High cholesterol itself usually doesn’t cause symptoms, so the best way to diagnose it is with a blood test at your doctor’s office called a lipid panel.
A cholesterol test, in addition to giving you a total cholesterol reading, this will also tell you what percentage of that number is LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) and your triglyceride count. It’s important to not only know your total blood cholesterol level, but to ask your doctor to break down what amount is LDL and what amount is HDL.
Overall, a desirable total blood cholesterol level is less than 200 mg/dL.Your cholesterol may be borderline high if it is 200-239 mg/DL; and 240 mg/dL and above is generally considered high. Again, these are guidelines for your total number; you still want to ask your doctor what percentage is HDL and what percentage is LDL. (Remember you want more HDL and less LDL!)
What Foods Can Help Lower Cholesterol?
You’ve now learned about what cholesterol is and the different lipoproteins that it contains; so what foods can you eat to lower your cholesterol naturally?
1. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are not only delicious; it turns out they’re a major source of soluble fiber, which is bad cholesterol’s worst nightmare. Soluble fibre helps the body excrete cholesterol by binding to bile acids.
There’s a reason oatmeal is touted as one of the healthiest ways to start your day; it’s been proven that eating oats regularly can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) by 5.3% in only 6 weeks. In addition to its high soluble fibre content, oats also contain something called beta-glucan, which works to absorb LDL from the blood.
3. Olive Oil
Make the switch from butter to olive oil and your cholesterol levels will thank you. Olive oil is a healthy fat that plays a big part in most Mediterranean diets, keeping your heart healthy with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which naturally lower LDL cholesterol. Healthy fats can also help you naturally lose weight.
Brinjal is loaded with fiber, which you’ve now learned is key to reducing LDL levels.
Grapefruit contains antioxidants and fibre which has been shown to prevent plaque build-up and lower both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
6. Dark Chocolate
Loaded with antioxidants, dark chocolate increases your HDL (good!) cholesterol levels and keeps blood platelets from sticking together. Of course, remember everything in moderation-and stick with organic dark chocolate as an occasional indulgence, not milk chocolate candy bars.
Eating peanuts, almonds, or walnuts can lower your LDL cholesterol. Their high calorie count means it’s important to keep portion sizes small-around one to one and a half ounces per day-to get the most benefit.
Garlic has immune-boosting properties and it can prevent LDL particles from clogging up artery walls.