Thursday, December 31, 2009


It is true that people have short memories and if not for this trait, claims of achievements would not have been repeated on different occasions to different audience. This can be forgivable if politicians do this to fool the public for garnering votes. But when such practices become rampant amongst scientists, it is a cause for worry. Here is an example of such a feat, a proclamation made by the head of a research organization recently, regarding development of a new technology for some food products targeted at defense forces.

"The Mysore-based Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL), has now found a way in which mutton and chicken biryani, and non-vegetarian sandwiches, can have a long shelf life without losing their nutritional value. The disclosure was made at the inauguration of the three-day 20th 'Convention of Food Scientists and Technologists' in the city on Monday. The focal theme of the convention is 'Specialised Processed Foods for Health and Nutrition: Technology and Delivery".

It is on record that thermally processed "Ready to Eat" (RTE) foods packed in heat stable flexible pouches or retortable pouches were in the Indian market during the last two decades and already there are half a dozen food processors in the organized sector manufacturing at least 25 varieties of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food preparations for the domestic and export markets. The technology with minor variations of time and temperature can be adapted to any food products including biriyani. But the claim that the technology is new or their nutritional value is not affected by the process is not just tenable. It is not realized that these are staple foods, consumed not for their nutrients but to provide calories and proteins. Heat labile nutrients present in small quantities are bound to be lost to some extent. How ever credit must be given to this defense laboratory for originally standardizing this process for a few products more than two decades ago in response to the demand from armed forces.


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