SINGAPORE: In a series of Facebook posts on Saturday (Nov 4), Madam Ho Ching, the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, warned against contamination in turmeric powder. Mdm Ho, who has been drawing attention to health issues of late, posted four articles about the issue.

Turmeric is widely used in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines, and is a primary ingredient in the preparation of curry. The spice is said to have many healthful properties, and has long been used to treat a number of medical conditions. Studies have shown that the spice may help reduce inflammation, treat stomach ailments, and even fight infections and possibly even some cancers.

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However, lead contamination has been found in some turmeric powders, as Mdm Ho pointed out. “The turmeric purchased abroad — in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Morocco — have the highest lead content. Some of these may have gotten into the turmeric powder supply chain globally.

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Lead chromate is a coloured chemical added to turmeric powder to make it appear a richer yellow orange colour, the colour of the lead chromate.  This has caused lead poisoning in children esp in these countries, where turmeric is a commonly used spice,” she wrote.

The first link she shared is for an article titled, “The Vice of Spice: Confronting Lead-Tainted Turmeric.” It talks about how lead chromate had been commonly added to turmeric in Bangladesh to give it a brighter yellow hue by people who were unaware that this could lead to kidney and brain damage or cause developmental delays in children.

However, the problem is not confined to Bangladesh but has spread all over the globe, especially with the superfood status that turmeric acquired over the last decade or so.

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The second article Mdm Ho shared is from The Guardian, “Dangerous spices: why India’s cooking powders pose a risk of lead poisoning.” It talks about how children’s health is being affected through lead poisoning via exposure from spice powders and car batteries.

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Investigators who looked into the use found lead in turmeric, chilli, cumin, curry powder, garam masala and chat masala in Kolkata. “Keep in mind that the ill effects of lead exposure build up over time and that these spices are used in households every day and across India. Unlike other sources of lead contamination that have been identified, like automobile exhaust, leaded paints and pipes used in homes, this is a hidden hazard. We really aren’t aware of the full scope of this problem yet,” the article quotes Dr Ipsita Mazumdar, a professor of biochemistry at Kolkata’s KPC Medical College and Hospital.

The third article was about children in Seattle getting poisoned through turmeric brought from India, but added that there are also contaminated spices in the US. The fourth piece is a how-to on checking for adulteration in turmeric powder.


The post appeared first on The Independent News.

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