Turmeric losing status as miracle healing spice

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The exporters include IndoVedic Nutrients Private Limited of Karnataka and Visakarega Trading Private of Kerala.

Visakhapatnam: Just as turmeric is gaining popularity in the West, the US Food and Drugs Administration has issued an import alert against some Indian turmeric exporters. Consumers in the West have begun consuming turmeric in the form of turmeric capsules, supplements and even a latte.

The FDA declaration makes Indian turmeric products subject to ‘detention without physical examination” for allegedly “offering turmeric with levels of lead that may render the product injurious to health for import into the United States.”

The exporters include IndoVedic Nutrients Private Limited of Karnataka and Visakarega Trading Private of Kerala.

Earlier, Spices USA Inc. had recalled some bags of turmeric from India as they reportedly contained elevated levels of lead. It advised consumers to either return or destroy the product. It believed that the problem arose “in the plant in India where the product was packed.”

Some other spice manufacturers in the US have voluntarily recalled their turmeric products, which were imported from India, again after finding that they contained dangerous levels of lead.

Consortium of Indian Farmers Association founder P. Chengal Reddy said that the USFDA’s reports cannot always be believed. “These turmeric products are being exported from some industries in New Delhi, Mumbai and other cities. We cannot say what’s taking place at the manufacturing stage,” said Mr Chengal Reddy.

R. Rekha, an Andhra University faculty in food, nutrition and dietetics, said lead was a cumulative toxicant that affected multiple body systems and was particularly harmful to young children. “There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe as per the World Health Organisation. Long exposure to lead will have many health consequences including an attack at the central nervous system, digestive and renal system,” Ms Rekha said. A senior official at the AP horticulture department explained the technicalities involved in the exporting process of turmeric powder.

“Officials issue a certificate of export after testing it. Each country has its own set of regulations with regard to the levels of pesticide residues and others. Whenever an exporter doesn’t meet the criteria the firm is be banned,” he said. When the scientists at the Bengaluru-based National Referral Centre for Lead Projects analysed branded and unbranded turmeric samples, it found that one square centimetre of a 50-gm packet of turmeric had around 447 ppm lead, way higher than the generally acceptable levels.

High levels of lead has been found in thousands of commonly used food items in recent times. In 2015, Maggi noodles was also caught in a controversy after it was found to have higher levels of lead.

Lead Alert in yellow gold

Long term exposure to lead can lead to various negative health consequences in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure, kidney damage and others.
Lead accumulation can cause delayed mental and physical development and learning deficiencies in children.
Pregnant women, infants and young children especially should avoid exposure to products containing lead.
Drug Administration (USFDA) had recently issued an import alert against some Indian turmeric exporters
Red alert on exports by : IndoVedic Nutrients Private Limited of Karnataka and Visakarega Trading Private of Kerala

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