ICMR’s Food Safety Recommendations: Choosing Whole Spices and Certified Goods for Healthier Eating

ICMR's Food Safety Recommendations: Choosing Whole Spices and Certified Goods for Healthier Eating

ICMR's Food Safety Recommendations: Choosing Whole Spices and Certified Goods for Healthier Eating

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Discover How ICMR’s New Dietary Guidelines Ensure Safe Food Choices and Optimal Health for All Ages

1 June 2024

By Khushi Maheshwari

In its latest dietary guidelines, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) emphasises the importance of choosing whole spices over powdered ones to ensure food safety. Whole spices, consistent in size, shape, and colour, are less susceptible to adulteration compared to their powdered counterparts, which may contain contaminants. The ICMR advises consumers to prioritise certified goods and exercise caution while purchasing spice mixes, particularly amid recent concerns about pesticides in popular brands.

While spices do give flavour to our food, they are also a rich source of antioxidants. They aid in the treatment of numerous illnesses. For food preparation, the ICMR suggests using caution while purchasing spices. People are advised by the medical research body to choose whole spices over powdered ones because the latter may contain adulterants.

Selecting whole spices with uniform size, shape and colour is preferable to using powdered spices, as the latter are more vulnerable to manipulation. ICMR advises buying only certified products. Recently, MDH and Everest spice mixes have come under scrutiny due to pesticide concerns.

To assist Indians in making better food choices, the ICMR and the National Institute of Nutrition published 17 new dietary guidelines for Indians of all ages.

How the ICMR recommends choosing safe food

The emphasis on spice safety is part of a broader initiative by the ICMR to promote healthier eating habits and ensure food safety across all age groups. In addition to spices, the guidelines address various aspects of food safety, including concerns related to adulteration, chemical contamination, and microbiological contamination. Food’s natural enzymes cause it to deteriorate over time as well. In addition, food is dangerous when it contains natural toxins, adulterants, insects, rodents and different chemical residues that are present in excess of what is allowed.

Furthermore, the recommendations state that the moisture content of the food as well as certain environmental factors like temperature, humidity and storage duration affect the meal’s quality.

Additionally, the apex organisation provides safety advice while purchasing common foods including eggs, meat, veggies, spices, dairy products and vegetable oils.

Recognizing the impact of environmental factors on food quality, the guidelines provide comprehensive advice on selecting safe foods across different categories. Consumers are urged to prioritise fresh produce and avoid items that show signs of spoilage or contamination, such as discoloration, physical damage, or pest infestation. The recommendations also extend to other common food items, including vegetable oils, dairy products, and meat. Consumers are advised to source vegetable oils from reliable sources to reduce the risk of adulteration, while opting for pasteurised milk and milk products to minimise health risks associated with contamination.

The ICMR also states that fruits and vegetables should be avoided if they are discoloured, physically damaged, shrunken, bruised or wilted and rotted and show signs of mould and insects.