A warning from the Ministry of Health:
Put sausages on hold
by Carol Aloysius
The Health Ministry has warned the public to abstain from consuming
sausages, particularly those that come in unbranded packing, as they
could lead to several serious non communicable diseases ( NCDs)
"Put sausages on hold if they are a part of your regular diet. They
are unhealthy, high in bad fat with little nutritious value and could
send children to their graves early as they could cause serious
illnesses including cancer of the bowels and gut.", Toxicology
Information Unit Head, National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Dr Waruna
Gunathileke said, adding that unbranded sausages which carried no labels
or expiry dates, were especially injurious to human health.
"We have evidence to prove this," he told the Sunday Observer. " The
Toxicology Information Unit at the National Hospital has received
several complaints from people recently about adverse health impacts
such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea they had suffered from, after
ingesting sausages that had no brand names."
When asked from where they had purchased these sausages, he said,
"Many of them told us they had been purchased in take away restaurants
and small way side eateries. These outlets usually do not use branded
sausages as they are purchased in bulk at reduced rates. Since there are
no labels and expiry dates on pre-cooked sausages sold whole or in
minced form in buns, rolls or pastries, the consumer has no way to check
if they are fit for consumption before hand."
It is not just pre-cooked sausages that sends consumers rushing to
toilets and even ending up in hospitals.
According to Dr Gunathileke, sausages as well as other raw meats sold
as meat balls, or spicy chicken with garlic etc, sold loose in the
Butchery Section of various supermarkets are also more often than not,
sub standard in quality and unfit for consumption. " Unlike those
displayed on the shelves, these meat products that are sold unpackaged
in the butchery section of supermarkets have no expiry dates or names of
the manufacturing company. If the dates are expired or about to expire,
we have been told that some dishonest super market managers sell the
meats in value added forms so as to make a quick profit instead of
discarding the outdated products.
To cover up the taste of spoiled meat, these unscrupulous
supermarkets drench the products in tomato sauce, or garlic and ginger
paste and sell them for an even higher price than the original product,"
Dr Gunathileke said. He said he had information that some of these near
expired unbranded sausages were being surreptitiously despatched to
small eating houses and hotels at reduced prices. He warned the public
to insist on the brand, date of manufacture and expiry dates . "They
have a right to obtain this information", he added.
The health impact of eating expired meat products could be severe and
long lasting, he warned. " Our Unit has all the information that
Managers of supermarkets and the staff should know of the danger of
selling spoiled foods with expiry dates to customers," he noted. He said
sausages and other pre-cooked meats such as meat balls, tinned corned
beef and mutton, spare ribs and other such food items in general were
injurious to human health, for many reasons. "They contain Nitrites, a
chemical used to preserve food. Long term ingestion of this chemical can
lead to colon cancers. In addition, they also contain high fat deposits
which can lead to high cholesterol and ischaemic heart diseases. Acute
short term effects especially of eating outdated sausages could result
in nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and gut related or gastro intestinal
infections. If eaten after the expiry date, it could complicate these
issues further", he warned..
Public Health Community Physician in charge of school health Dr
Ayesha Lokubalasuriya agreed that sausages were unhealthy and
unnecessary in school children's daily diets. The most vulnerable groups
are students from private and international schools in and around the
city, since they are surrounded by a glut of food outlets, some with
international brands selling hamburghers, fried chicken wings, nuggets ,
meat ball buns advertised as being 'healthy food'. "There should be
legislation to ban such outlets within at least a mile radius from the
schools. In some countries such as India,m fast food outlets are banned
by law within a two mile radius of schools , so why can't Sri Lanka
follow this example?", she asked.
Schools' canteen policy
Asked about the School Canteen Policy aimed at ensuring healthy food
being served in school, she said. "The Schools Canteen Policy is in
operation. What we need is a law that enforces it in all schools in the
island." She said, "From 2007 we have been asking school canteens to
stop selling this type of food. Although most rural schools have
implemented our circular, the majority of better known schools in
Colombo have ignored our circular. In the fresh list of foods for 2016,
which should not be sold in canteens of all state schools we have once
again included sausages as one item. However, since there is no law to
enforce it, we can only advise school authorities to adhere to it".
Director Non Communicable Diseases ( NCD), Health Ministry, Dr Thilak
Siriwardene endorsed the fact that the consumption of sausages and other
ready- made meat products should be avoided as far as possible,
especially among school- children and elderly persons suffering from
various non communicable diseases.
"It is these foods that lay the foundation for early development of
non communicable diseases. Our studies have shown that several children
are already pre-diabetic. In Colombo due to over eating of starchy and
high fatty food without burning down the calories with exercise, nearly
1/3 of children are obese or overweight. Even if they are within the
normal weight range, they could have diabetes or cholesterol.", he
warned. "The key to good health is a balanced diet with less fats, sugar
and salt, eating more vegetables and fruits, and taking plenty of
exercise", he emphasised. Adding that the habit of eating fast foods and
consuming fizzy sugary drinks had now spread to even rural areas where
leading manufacturers of such foods had set up business establishments
in provincial towns or enfranchised small boutique owners to sell such
products, he said it was difficult to keep a check on such outlets
although Public health Inspectors in the respective areas were doing
their best to monitor their sales.
"This is not something the Health Ministry can do alone. No one can
legally prevent unhealthy foods being sold in supermarkets. But we can
curtail advertisements that boost these products as,' healthy foods
children require for development and growth'.
We can also reduce the sale of sub quality items with stricter
enforcement of the laws under the Food Act. But before that , there has
to be a change in our lifestyles and eating habits. So it has to be a
collective action on the part of everyone of us," Dr Siriwardene
One-Stop screening for breast cancer
Lanka Hospitals PLC will launch the One-Stop Women’s Imaging Centre
to screen breast cancer and other diagnostics tests for early breast
The Imaging Centre will have the latest, state-of-the-art digital
mammogram machinery to ensure minimal discomfort and lowest radiation to
The latest of its kind, Fujifilm, Amulet Innovality has the highest
sensitivity to detect breast cancer at a very early stage with the
capability to perform breast biopsies and localization procedures.
Marking the importance of October declared as breast cancer month,
Lanka Hospitals will also host breast cancer survivors at a ‘Breast
Cancer Survivors Seminar’ on October 27, 2015 at the hospital premises
mooted by Consultant Oncological Surgeon, Dr. Naomal Perera, is the
seminar The Can-Sur-Vive Trust, a CSR project of the Association of the
The seminar on the 27th will be the first of many quarterly meetings
organized for survivors, the purpose of which is to register as many
survivors for additional assistance they may require.
The initial meeting will be held in Colombo to increase the range to
the suburbs and rural areas in the coming years.
Tuesday’s seminar will be attended by Minister of Women’s and Child’s
Affairs, Chandrani Bandara and Swarna Mallawarachchi – an award-winning
Sri Lankan actor and breast cancer survivor.
To register call the hotline – 0713161616.