Regulatory, industry bodies say salt brands in India are safe to consume

Agencies
July 4, 2019

New Delhi, Jul 4: As allegations and concerns have cropped up over the safety of major Indian salt brands, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have refuted the concerns that the major salt brands contain alarming level of potassium ferrocyanide.

The FSSAI tweeted: "Ferrocyanides are used as anti-caking agents in processing of salt and are safe for consumption. Test reports quoted in media have shown its presence well within limit of 10 mg/kg, as specified by FSSAI. This is less than 14 mg/kg specified by Codex (International Food Standards)."

IMA tweeted that it stands with FSSAI's statement. Concerns rose after Shiv Shankar Gupta, Chairman of Godhum Grains & Farm Products last week claimed that potassium ferrocyanide levels were alarmingly high in reputed Indian salt brands

According to Gupta, a test by American West Analytical Laboratories (AWAL) has revealed that potassium ferrocyanide levels are an alarmingly high in Sambhar Refined Salt at 4.71 mg per kg, at 1.85 mg per kg in Tata Salt and 1.90 mg per kg in Tata Salt Lite.

However, American West Analytical Laboratories in a statement dated July 1 said that "AWAL does not report opinions concerning analytical data" and also "does not analyze or report potassium ferrocyanide".

American West Analytical Laboratories also said that AWAL does not communicate any information to third parties (e.g., news agencies) concerning work performed at our laboratory without written permission from our primary client.

Tata Salt in a statement said that its product is safe and harmless. "The recent allegations made against the purity and health benefits of Tata Salt are totally false and misleading and being made by vested interests. India is one among many countries including the USA, European Union, Australia and New Zealand that have allowed the use of PFC in salt," it said.

"The level allowed by FSSAI, an independent statutory authority, under Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the lowest among these jurisdictions (10 mg per kg). Codex Alimentarius, the most authoritative guidelines on food safety has declared APFC Asafe for consumption at levels of 14 mg per kg. The use of PFC is allowed in salt and is safe and harmless to the human body when consumed as per approved levels. This is clearly declared in the list of Tata Salt ingredients in a manner prescribed by the regulations," it added.

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News Network
June 24,2021

At least seven cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome – a rare neurological disorder – have been detected by the doctors in Kerala within a month among 12 lakh people who received the Covishield vaccine, prompting them to alert others to watch out for GBS among the vaccine recipients.

“Overall, our experience should prompt all physicians to be vigilant in recognising GBS in patients who have received the ChAdOx1-S vaccine (Covishield in India). While the risk per patient (5.8 per million) may be relatively low, our observations suggest that this clinically distinct GBS variant is more severe than usual and may require mechanical ventilation,” they reported in the Annals of Neurology.

GBS is a rare condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves. The symptoms start as weakness and tingling in the feet and legs. The sensations can quickly spread to the upper body, leading to paralysis in the worst cases.

While the condition may be triggered by an acute bacterial or viral infection, there are treatments available to deal with such medical emergencies.

Out of the seven patients detected by the Kerala doctors, six are women and all of them are 50-70 years of age. They are from Ernakulam, Kottayam and Kannur districts of Kerala where approximately 1.2 million individuals had received the Covishield vaccine as of April 22.

“GBS following vaccination is a rare adverse effect that is likely to be causal. All the seven patients are alive and getting better with treatment,” Boby V Maramattom, the corresponding author of the study and a senior doctor at the department of neurology, Aster Medcity at Kochi said.

The incidence of GBS in India is approximately 6–40 cases per million per year, with a seasonal variation, peaking in the rainy season.

With a denominator of 1.2 million people, the expected cases of GBS per year are approximately seven to 48 annually or between 0.58 to four cases in every four weeks. The reporting of seven GBS cases in 1.2 million people within four weeks (mid March to mid April) marks a 1.4-to-10 fold rise in the incidence of GBS.

“Although the (causative) factors are not completely established, molecular mimicry between viral proteins and human nerve proteins are likely to be a reason,” he said. “It is not completely unexpected with a vaccination but the risk is approximately less than five per million doses.”

A separate team of researchers also reported four such cases from Nottingham in England, an area in which approximately 7,00,000 people received the same vaccine. The frequency of GBS in both the areas was estimated to be up to 10 times greater than expected.

"If the link is causal it could be due to a cross-reactive immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and components of the peripheral immune system. The clinicians should be vigilant in looking for this rare neurological syndrome following the administration of Covid-19 vaccines," wrote the authors of the UK report.

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News Network
June 17,2021

Myopia is on the rise. In the UK, the number of children with myopia has doubled in the last 50 years. Globally, it’s projected that by 2050 half of the world’s population will be myopic.

Although myopia – also known as near-sightedness or short-sightedness – can run in families, environmental factors, such as spending too much time indoors have a large influence.

For most people, myopia develops from a mixture of both genetics and environmental factors. But while evidence shows that modern lifestyle factors contribute to myopia, scientists still aren’t entirely sure why.

For instance, research shows that the amount of time a child spends outdoors can play a significant role in their risk of developing myopia.

Not only do most studies show that children who spend more time outdoors are less likely to develop myopia, studies requiring children to spend extra time outdoors during school hours have shown the rate of myopia onset decreased compared with children who didn’t spend additional time outdoors.

But researchers still aren’t quite sure why this is the case. One theory is that the higher levels of light outdoors releases more dopamine into our retinal receptors (the nerves that process light signals in the eye), thus protecting against myopia.

Another suggestion is that the greater amount of physical activity children typically get outdoors prevents myopia. But studies have now shown that this has little effect.

It’s also been suggested that the different patterns and details we see in outdoor versus indoor spaces might explain the increase in myopia.

For example, one study suggests that the abundance of plain features and walls in indoor environments is to blame. This may also be why myopia tends to be more common in urban areas, however, more research is needed to understand this.

Modern lifestyles

Nevertheless, modern lifestyles often require us to spend a lot of our time indoors. For example, children are spending longer in formal education thanks to increases in school leaving age and more people pursuing higher education, which evidence suggests can cause myopia.

Yet what aspects of formalised education are causing increases in myopia is still unknown. Prolonged reading, learning at close distances, time spent indoors and increased screen use might all be to blame.

While one study suggests reading at a distance closer than 25cm may be a risk for developing myopia, reading probably only has a small effect on developing myopia.

The effect of greater screen use on myopia in children also has mixed results – probably because estimating screen use and controlling it in a long-term experiment is difficult. Regardless, further research is needed to understand whether excessive screen use is to blame for higher rates of myopia, and why this is the case.

Given the risk factors for developing myopia, there are also concerns now that stay-at-home orders and home learning during the pandemic may have worsened children’s eyesight.

Although there has been no study yet looking at the effect on children in the UK, early results elsewhere suggest that the pandemic may cause more children to develop myopia – but it’s anticipated the effects will be small. Whether the pandemic will have caused permanent increases in myopia is also yet to be seen.

Currently, the best advice for limiting the risk of developing myopia is to increase time spent outdoors, even by 40 minutes a day. 
 

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