Warning: food wrapped in newspapers could be slow poison

Using newspapers to wrap, pack or serve food is a safety hazard, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India declared this week. Newspapers are often used by roadside vendors, small hotels and even in homes in lieu of absorbent papers. The food regulatory body has warned that cancer-causing agent and microbes could be slowly poisoning consumers of much food that has been in contact with newspapers.

Foods contaminated by newspaper ink could be dangerous because ink has multiple bioactive materials that are known to have negative health effects, the FSSAI said in its advisory on the subject. Printing inks may also contain harmful colours, pigments, binders, additives and preservatives. Newspapers could also harbor pathogenic microorganisms that could contaminate food. Newspapers, paper or cardboard boxes made of recycled paper may be contaminated with metallic contaminants, mineral oils and harmful chemicals like the phthalates which can cause digestive problems and also lead to severe toxicity.

Eating food from newspapers could be particularly harmful to vulnerable people like older people, teenagers, children and people with compromised vital organs and immune systems. The FSSAI directed all state commissioners of food safety carry out campaigns to generate awareness against the practice.

Are fewer infants dying in Madhya Pradesh?

Even though Madhya Pradesh has the highest infant mortality rate among states in India, it has shown remarkable progress in countering infant deaths, according to UNICEF health specialist Dr Gagan Gupta.

Speaking at a neo-natal conference at Indore last week, Gupta pointed out that Madhya Pradesh has seen a reduction of 30% in the infant mortality or IMR rate between the years 2009 and 2014 as against nationwide fall of 25% during the same period. According to the 2014 sample registration system, the state records 52 deaths of children less than one year of age per 1,000 live births.

Gupta also said that the state needed to take several collective measures to further improve its situation.

Mortality of female newborns in Madhya Pradesh is 17% higher than males. UNICEF and the National Neo-natal Forum have declared 2017 as the year of female newborn to ensure that the focus of health care shifts towards them with an emphasis on admitting the newborns to special care newborn unites so that they receive adequate care.

More heart disease in Kerala

The Cardiological Society of India has found that cardiac disease is much higher in Kerala compared to the rest of India. Among the adult population of 20-79 years of age in Kerala, 12% are afflicted with heart diseases while in the towns in the rest of India, the rate between 7% and -9% and only between 3% and 4% in villages, according to a new study from the society.

Thirty percent of this adult population in Kerala has high blood pressure. Only half of this group is aware of their condition and only one-third take medicines to manage it. Furthermore, only one out of six people have their blood pressure under reasonable control while the rest remain at risk of heart disease and heart attacks.