Chillies infected with toxic fungus: Scientists

Spice Exported To PaK, Consumed In Local Market


Baramulla, Oct 19: The Pakistan administration Kashmir’s claim that red chillies being imported from this part of Kashmir through LOC trade are infected with the deadly Aflatoxin, an extremely toxic and highly carcinogenic fungus, has been vindicated by the laboratory analysis at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST).
According to reports, detailed analysis of red chillies showed the samples to be infected with highly poisonous Aflatoxin fungus.
The report from the Directorate of Research, SKUAST, reads: “Besides excessive levels of Aflatoxin B1 and B2, the samples have microbial load especially fungi beyond permissible limits. The dominant mode species noticed were aspergillus, pencillium, rhizoeus, mucor and fursrium. Several phytopathogens were also observed in the samples.”
Pakistan administered Kashmir has raised strong objections against the import of red chilies and banned its import through LOC trade after a detailed quality analysis at the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research laboratory complex Lahore found that the imported chillies contain high levels of Aflatoxin B1 and thus are unfit for human consumption.
Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by fungus from the Aspergillus genus. The toxin is highly carcinogenic in humans and can also cause other health effects, particularly liver problems. The fungus is found frequently in nature and can readily contaminate crops before harvest or during storage. It is common in moist soils and decaying vegetation. There are more than 13 different subtypes of Aflatoxin with B1 being the most toxic. High-level Aflatoxin exposure, according to experts, produce acute hepatic necrosis, resulting later in cirrhosis, and or carcinoma of the liver.
After receiving the communication from PaK authorities, Commissioner/Secretary, Industries and Commerce Department had directed the Deputy Commissioner Baramulla vide letter no PS/CS/I&C/2011/145 Dated: 23-6-2011 to collect the samples of the chillies and send the same for thorough laboratory analysis.
Accordingly, a team comprising General Manager DIC Baramulla, SDM Uri, BMO Baramulla and Food Inspector Municipal Council Baramulla collected samples of chillies from the go-downs of LOC traders and dispatched the same for laboratory analysis.
Why infected chillies were allowed to be consumed in local market?
How serious are authorities here in dealing with food adulteration and protecting people from health hazards can be determined from the fact that after receiving a report from PaK, no efforts were made by the state authorities to seize the diseased lot which were dumped in different go-downs in the valley.
Soon after PaK authorities banned its import, these infected red chillies worth crores of rupees were dumped in different go-downs in the valley. However the state authorities did not bother either to seize or to destroy it, with the result these infected chillies were consumed in the local market.
When contacted, Director Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department (CAPD) said that it was the duty of department of Industries and Commerce to seize the infected chillies.
“The matter is pertaining to Industries and Commerce department as the CAPD had no role in the diseased chillies being exported through LOC trade,” said Abdul Wahid Tak, Director CAPD.
When contacted, minister for Industries and Commerce, SS Slathia said, “I don’t have any idea why these chillies were not seized or destroyed.”

Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST

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