The comfort dessert becomes a victim to raging power cuts

When a 20- year old student from the city started experiencing severe abdominal pain, nobody expected a scoop of ice cream to be the culprit. As the mercury level shoots up, people consume ice creams believing that these provide relief from the heat. But health experts say it might not be all that safe, considering the frequent power cuts. When temperatures vary, it results in a cycle of melting and refreezing.

“Ice creams with a high nutrient value are vulnerable to microbial growth when they melt. This causes food poisoning affecting the gastrointestinal system,” says V.G. Mohanprasad, a gastroenterologist.

R. Kathiravan, Designated Officer, Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department (Food Safety Wing), says it is important for consumers to be aware of such issues and protect themselves from unhealthy fares.

“If we receive complaints (which can be emailed to dofssacbe@gmail.com), we will take appropriate action and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will do everything to help the public,” he says.

The FSSAI is the regulatory body established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. Chapter VII, Section 40 of the Act empowers consumers to analyse food purchased with an authorised food analyst. This should be done after informing the food business owner. If the sample is found not to be adhering to the specified standards, consumer will be entitled to reimbursement.

Further, the food business owner will be prosecuted. Coimbatore is one of the six districts to have a laboratory accredited to FSSAI.

Pravin Kumar, a franchisee of a leading ice cream shop, says that the firm has specific operating procedures with regard to maintaining temperature. “All ice creams are stored at -18 degrees to maintain quality and ensure safety,” he adds.

R. Damodaran, Deputy Director of Public Health, says the problem begins at the grass root level. Many ice cream manufacturers don’t follow the specifications with regard to water used in the process. While drinking water can contain 0.5 parts per million (ppm) of residual chlorine, water used in ice creams should not exceed 0.2 ppm. If it exceeds this level, it causes adverse reactions with certain additives, he adds.

(With inputs from Shilpa Prince)