A PIL has been filed at the Madras HC asking for a ban on mixing of alloxan in maida

Love Chennais parottas Watch out for the chemically toxic maida in themBy Charles Haynes via Wikimedia Commons
news Food Tuesday, May 03, 2016 - 16:49

The next time you are savouring hot parottas with kurma at your favourite stall in Chennai, remember that you might be risking your health with every bite you take. The ‘maida dabba’, which has enjoyed its own rightful place in the south-Indian kitchen, might just get dethroned. Maida halwas, sooji appams, kozhukattais and pooris might have to wait for a green signal from the Madras High Court for there could be dangerous adulterants in them.

In response to a PIL filed by K Rajendran of Vedaranyam, the Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to probe adulteration in maida. The PIL alleges the mixing of chemicals – alloxan and benzoyl, which are harmful to the human body. Rajendran had thus filed a petition seeking a ban on the mixing of alloxan in maida.

Studies state that maida is a made by removing the fibre rich barn from the wheat flour. Once the barn is removed, maida is supposedly bleached with alloxan to make it appear white and fine. The alloxan, however, has the potential to cause insulin dependent diabetes. The chemical damages the pancreas, which is responsible for regulating the level of glucose in one’s body. Alloxan is also said to be widely used by scientists to induce diabetes in animals, for research purposes.

Once the maida is mixed with alloxan, it is further bleached with Benzoyl Peroxide and chlorine dioxide. The benzoyl peroxide is said to affect the digestive system by making the stomach more base than acidic, which decreases the fermentation of glucose by 95%. The chlorine dioxide, on the other hand, depletes the Vitamin E reserves in the body.

"The representation of the petitioner dated March 14, is to be examined. He has made his own research and inquiry, and if what is alleged is found to be correct, to proceed in accordance with law. Necessary action may be taken within three months," said the first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice MM Sundresh.

The petitioner Rajendran initially filed a Right to Information (RTI) to avail information regarding the chemicals present in maida. The lack of response from the concerned officials forced him to fill the PIL.    

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