SRINAGAR: Dates being an important part of Iftar in the holy month of Ramazan, the substandard varieties in the market can pose a serious threat to health. The dates being sold in the open by street vendors, laced with silver foil to attract customers, carry fungal growth besides loads of dust and particulate matter, experts say.
Cautioning against their use, Mohammad Rafiq, Food Analyst at the government-run Food Testing Laboratory here, said that these dates are of inferior quality and to make them look attractive and fresh, polishing agents that are harmful to health are used on them. Rafiq said consumers should avoid purchases of these dates and to also check expiry date before purchasing packed ones.
Doctors say that the contaminated dates sold in the open can cause gastrointestinal diseases like diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea.
Dr Riyaz Dagga, a physician, said that during the holy month of Ramazan, one should be more careful about health and should develop the habit of taking hygienic food. “Unhygienic dates can be problematic as they can lead to gastrointestinal diseases,” he said.
Dates are a rich source of energy, besides containing major vitamins and proteins, potassium and masses of fibre that make them easily digestible, but substandard dates, health experts warn, can do more harm than good.
Dealers of dates in Srinagar say that even though a section of people has become aware of hygienically packed dates, many still consume the low-quality stuff for its cheap price, currently being sold at Rs 100 to Rs 150 per kilogram in the open market.
The dealers say that the inferior stuff still retains a sizable portion of the market and is received from many countries in compressed poly packaging. A major retail marketing channel for these inferior dates is run by street vendors and people mostly purchase dates from them.