Lead is a naturally occurring chemical element that is found in the soil, water and in the atmosphere. People get exposed to lead in the environment in the process of crop and animal farming from the soil, production of veterinary medicines, during industrial manufacturing and when food items are handled, packaged or transported.
Fumes or dust that contain lead when inhaled and the contaminated water and foods (including contaminated plants and fish) when consumed can cause increased levels of lead in the body. Lead poisoning could also come from paint, petrol and soldering used in food cans as lead is used in all these.
Since lead is used in many industries, occupational exposure may be one of the major reasons for lead poisoning in adult population but lead contamination from processed and stored foods is equally risky as when the contaminated food gets ingested.
The respiratory and the digestive systems release lead into the blood. Blood runs throughout the body so an increase in lead toxicity affects the entire body including all the major organs. Pregnant women run a high risk when lead gets stored in the bones. Children exposed to lead are at higher risk for lead poisoning affects the nervous systems which can lead to learning and behavior issues of a permanent nature.
It is because of these health hazards of lead toxicity that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has laid down certain advisories for the Food Business Operators (FBOs) with regard to contaminants that cause public health hazards. If FBOs want that the sales of their products remain high then they need to have a food contamination tests conducted as per the regulations of FSSAI.
* FSSAI has specified the maximum levels of lead which are allowed in the food products and FBOs must ensure that they should comply with the regulations to minimize the chances of toxins in stored and packaged food products.
* The apex body has also stipulated that food products must be tested every six months through own or by a NABL Accredited/FSSAI Notified laboratory to ensure that contaminated products are not placed in the market.