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Jul 17 2013

Age of Kali – Poisoned

Adulteration is something we don’t fear in the west.

The process of adulteration is to take a food product and dilute it down with cheaper materials to stretch it out for “profit”.

Adulteration is a deadly problem in India.

I don’t get “proper” milk. The millk I get is “funny”. It’s something called toned milk. Its milk mixed with water and skimmed milk powder. This is the standard milk of India.

When I asked “why?” people gave me all sorts of answers. But what it effectively boils down to is “Adulteration was so common that it made sense to regulate it like this”. It was going to happen anyways, you may as well set a standard.

Adulteration has a deadly side too.

Many of the grains used to adulterate food are known to be toxic. In fact a condition called Lathyrism exists due to people using a common but “poisonous” plant’s grains in food.

But no where is this seen more than the recent events in Bihar.

22 children have died and 47 are in a critical condition after raw grains soaked in OPC (organophosphochlorate pesticides) were used to feed children. Normally the grains are cleaned and washed to remove the water soluble pesticide (and before you say “no pesticides” remember these keep all our food safe. Otherwise Indian famine conditions would be a lot lot worse) or worse.

Someone accidentally or maliciously introduced the OPCs into the school dinners.

The irony of OPC poisoning is that the treatment is another poison. Atropine (From the belladona plant – Deadly Nightshade or aconite. Because we are goddamn wizards).

But whether this is a case of adulteration, an accident (kitchens have OPCs to keep down the roaches) or outright malice we may never really know.

2 comments

  1. 1
    Francisco Bacopa

    Thanks for the info on Lathyrism. Never knew there was a toxic ground legume. I knew most woody legumes were toxic, most notably the Sennas of subtropical North America.

    Sad that people will resort to eating a plant like the grass pea despite its toxicity being known to many cultures throughout history. Very interesting article.

    BTW, though Avi certainly knows this, OCP’s are chemically related to some types of nerve gases. OCP’s are optimized for killing insects, nerve gases are optimized for killing mammals. Atropine, followed by a good soapy shower is a pretty good antidote for light exposure to nerve gas, but you gotta act fast.

  2. 2
    badgersdaughter

    Somewhat off point, I’m not from India or anywhere close, but I have a few of Tarla Dalal’s cookbooks. She refers to “double toned” milk and from context it is clear she means a fortified lowfat milk, but I never actually understood what it was. Cool to know.

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