Experts warns against consuming unhygienic dates

Experts warns against consuming unhygienic dates

Srinagar: While people in Kashmir lavishly enjoy variety of dates in Ramadan, experts warn against consumption of “unhygienic” dates during the month-long fasting period.
Experts in food safety and doctors advise people not to consume dates sold in the open by street vendors.
“These dates carry fungus and dust particles which can lead to serious food poisoning,” said Mufti Umar, Food Analyst, Kashmir.
He said the inferior quality dates also carry artificial adulterants to make the fruits polished and attractive.
“Most of the samples of these dates failed to basic standards of food safety as all of them were declared unsafe,” he said.
A food safety officer in Srinagar told Kashmir Reader that the manufacturing process of these dates involves mixing of the inferior quality dates with water, jaggery and other items to make them look pleasant to eyes.
“But, instead the dates turn highly unhygienic and unsafe for human consumption. We have destroyed many quintals of inferior dates in the market because people would fall sick immediately after consumption,” he said.
Officials said consumers should purchase packaged dates only.
“Before buying any variety of dates always check expiry date. People should also ask for proper bill from the dealer or shopkeeper to be at the safer side. It will help them to hold them accountable if anything harmful comes out from the product,” said the food analyst.
Doctors say that contaminated dates sold in the open can cause gastrointestinal diseases like diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea besides food poisoning.
“People need to be cautious while buying dates because consumption of unhygienic dates can lead to serious gastric and respiratory illnesses and food poisoning,” said Dr Salim Khan, a public health expert.
Dr Khan, who is also heading the Social and Preventive Medicine at Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar said dates had many health benefits but consumption of inferior dates can do more harm than good.
“Date is a rich source of energy, besides containing protein, vitamins, potassium and fibre that make them easily digestible. But, some people are selling substandard dates which should be discouraged,” he said.
Kashmir receives huge supply of dates from different countries every year and while 90 percent of the ‘fruits of paradise’ are consumed during Ramadan, as per traders.
According to them, the dates of different variety are distributed through merchants at Parimpora fruit mandi in Srinagar.
“We receive dates of various countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran, Algeria and Iraq. Earlier, we would get many dates from Pakistan but due to suspension of Cross LoC trade, the supply has been stopped. This has also led to price rise,” said Ghulam Muhammad Kasba.
He said the varieties include Rabi from Iran, Safawi (Saudi), Masafati (Iran), Kaas-Jumar (Algerie), Barari (Jordan), Nawar (Iran) and Safari (Saudi Arabia).
“The price of these dates range of Rs 150 to Rs 2000 per kg,” he said adding that the popular variety in Kashmir is from Safawi from Saudi Arabia as it has good quality,” Kasba said.
Another trader, Mushtaq Ahmad said they have stopped importing ‘inferior quality’ dates due to health hazards.
“We earn good money during Ramadan, why would we get into trouble unnecessarily by selling dirty dates,” he said.
Kasba said the dealers’ community ensures that people consume good quality dates.
“I expect a sale of Rs 3 crore this season from imported quality dates,” he said.