Every food-borne illness outbreak should be treated to its source

Health Care No Comments

Recently, the CDC investigated a multistate outbreak of E. coli in the US and sourced it to Romain lettuce grown from the Yuma, Arizona growing region, although no particular grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified. Further to this, the CDC issued an advisory for the consumers as well as retailers and restaurants.

For consumers, the CDC has recommended that they should �ask retailers where their romaine lettuce was sourced from and not eat or buy chopped romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona. If you have already bought products containing chopped romaine lettuce, such as bagged salads, salad mixes or prepared salads, throw them away and do not eat them�. Similarly, the CDC has asked retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators to not sell or serve any chopped romaine lettuce from the winter growing areas in Yuma, Arizona. If the source of the chopped romaine lettuce cannot be determined, then it should neither be sold nor served.

Food adulteration is not uncommon in India. Stories of food adulteration, are often covered by media. Milk and milk products, food grains, pulses, flour, condiments, sugar, spices and condiments, vegetables, salt are amongst the most common adulterated foods. The last major food recall across the country perhaps was for Maggi Noodles in 2015 due to lead content beyond the permissible levels.

In India, most cases of food contamination are passed off as food poisoning. The patient is treated for his symptoms and the matter ends there.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued guidelines for food recall by food business operators (FBO). Released last year, these guidelines require all FBOs engaged in the manufacturing, or importing, or wholesale supply of packaged food products to have a recall plan. An FBO is a person who carries on any activity related to manufacture, process, packaging, storage, transportation, distribution or import of food or provides food services. However, FBOs in food retail service sector (such as restaurants, caterers, take-away joints, etc.) who are not engaged in the foregoing activities are not required to have a recall plan.

The onus is on the FBOs to have a recall plan and implement it. Is there a system in place to check if these guidelines are implemented, if at all in the first place and then how stringently are they being implemented? To ensure food safety and thereby public health, there should be no exemptions to these guidelines.

Food adulteration�is a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code: Adulteration of food or drink intended for sale (IPC 272) and sale of noxious food or drink (IPC 273).

Every food-borne illness outbreak should be treated to its source like in the US and an advisory or health warning issued for the general public.

When will we reach such a level in India?

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri AwardeeVice President CMAAOGroup Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Immediate Past National President IMA

Long-term use of topical steroid creams can be detrimental for the skin

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Social Health Community No Comments

Over-the-counter purchase and use of creams must be avoided

New Delhi, 18th April 2018: Uninformed application of anti-fungal creams, and technologies like hair transplant have become serious public health issues. A particular area of concern is the use of fairness creams. Many of the beauty creams available over the counter or at beauty salons contain steroids. The need of the hour is to create awareness that their long-term use may lead to a condition called ‘topical steroid-damaged face’.

Overuse of creams also leads to something called ‘steroid addiction syndrome’ wherein a person finds it difficult to stop its use. Such blatant abuse of products damages natural complexion and makes the skin lose its usual thickness, eventually leading to skin ageing.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI),said, “Many people take recourse to creams available over the counter for fungal infections. This can cause more damage as there is a lack of awareness about their side effects. The fact that such creams give fast results is what makes them opt for it, with some people even using them for months or even years. A dermatologist, on the other hand, only prescribes them for a fixed duration beyond which it is advisable to not use these creams and medications, unless advised. Many creams should be brought under Schedule H drugs. There is also a need to impose some amount of censorship on advertisements which claim that the use of certain creams lightens the skin.”

Some typical features of topical steroid overuse and withdrawal include burning, stinging, and bright red skin. These may either occur within few days of use or over a period of few weeks.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “It is important to stop the use of topical steroids, only under the supervision of a doctor. Although there isn’t any one treatment, certain home remedies and medication can help in relieving the itching that may persist once the steroid is withdrawn. Some examples include ice and cool compresses, ointments and balms, and oatmeal baths.”

Some other tips from HCFI to relieve pain and itch for those with this condition.

  • Select a detergent that will not irritated the skin. It is also recommended to cycle your washing machine with vinegar or bleach to prevent bacteria from growing.
  • Wear clothes that are made of 100% cotton fabric.
  • Use soft towels and blankets that do not rub against the skin and irritate the rashes further.
  • Keep your skin cool and avoid hot environments till the allergy subsides.
  • Avoid food and environmental triggers that may cause the rashes to flare up.

Skipping breakfast may lead to higher BMI, especially on those with Type II diabetes

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India No Comments

A healthy and timely diet plan and physical activity can avert possible complications

New Delhi, 17th April 2018: As per recent research, people with Type II diabetes who delay eating breakfast have an increased likelihood of a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). This can lead to obesity and related complications in the longer run. There is need to stress on the importance of not skipping breakfast and eating food in a timely manner among people with diabetes and the general population.

The risk of Type II diabetes rises with increasing body weight. Those who are obese are 3 to 7 times more likely to acquire this condition than those with a normal weight. The risk increases by 20 times in people with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35 kg/m2.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “Indians have a tendency of gaining more fat around the abdomen, which can lead to insulin resistance. One of the primary reasons for this is the lifestyle people lead today. On-the-go and fast-paced lives mean people skip their breakfast and end up eating unhealthy, quick-fix meals through the remainder of a day. It is important to understand that even a5% reduction in body weight combined with regular to moderate intensity exercise can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by more than 50%. Those without diabetes or at a risk of developing this condition should focus on switching to a healthier lifestyle and maintaining an ideal BMI.”

Diet affects diabetes risk independent of a person’s weight. Type 2 diabetes is known as a silent killer. By the time a diagnosis is done, other associated health complications may already be present.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President of CMAAO, said, “People who are obese should aim at limiting the intake of complex carbohydrates as they tend to increase blood sugar levels and the production of insulin. In those with insulin resistance, this surge can lead to further weight gain. Apart from this, aim at getting about 30 to 45 minutes of physical activity every day, five times a week.”

Some tips from HCFI.

  • Exercise every day and consume a healthy diet.
  • Get your blood glucose levels monitored at regular intervals.
  • Do not consume refined sugar in any form as this can get absorbed into the blood stream more easily and cause further complications.
  • Reduce stress through activities such as meditation and yoga.

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