Where ignorance is bliss…

A revealing, but not necessarily light-hearted dialogue sometime ago between two citizens in the city overheard in a public place was tell-tale. The episode featured a case of an unsuccessful suicide attempt by a member in the family of one of them due to depression. The disappointed survivor had chosen to take the extreme step by consuming a familiar poison, such as used in getting rid of rodents. The revealing part of the story is that the trusted killer agent (the rat poison) was adulterated to the point of it being safe to consume. In a certain sense, people across all sections of society are feeling smug while savouring the multitude of sweets and snacks made delectable by a variety of additives, particularly colouring matter, mimics of spices, flavour chemicals, fillers and whatever, without an iota of doubt about all that they are polishing off regularly, even ending up as addicts. The land’s most popular breakfast stuff, Masala Dosa takes the cake in the context of food playing the villainous role of poison.

Even as air and water, the two most basic life-sustaining resources, considered as gifts of nature, have been victims of human assault on them, food, the third resource supporting life, is keeping exalted company with the other two. Ancient texts as well as modern knowledge spell out in great detail an exhaustive DOs and DON’Ts for ensuring the safety of these resources, but to no avail.

Footpath canteens and mobile eateries have sprung up in numbers virtually covering all regions across Mysuru at a pace never witnessed in the city anytime before in its long history. Now, some well-marked streets and also residential areas, which abounded in single-storey dwellings are getting swamped by hotels catering to both traditional tastes and also exotic cuisines. The tariff for the dishes are quoted in three digits, a feature totally strange and rattling the elderly among the residents of the city. Although the air is abuzz in the city about its hotels, without exception, throwing to winds all norms of hygiene and cleanliness, even the well-heeled sections are known to pass over the hazard of eating food in these eateries and hotels.

After a long slumber, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has reportedly taken an initiative to award ratings of safety to restaurants, cafés, canteens and other food joints. The measure may yield some statistics relating to food safety, but the mass trooping in and trooping out of the eateries choose to be blissfully ignorant about unsafe food they patronising.

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