Food is in the spotlight when you are pregnant. Every time you eat – you remind yourself that you are eating for two. But do you know that if you focus only on eating healthy – you and your baby – may not be safe! There may be bugs in your food that are conveniently hidden in the shadows. Bugs that are not baby friendly. Watch out for them!
Food Poisoning is ugly
Bugs can contaminate any food that is not properly cleaned, cooked and stored. You can get food poisoning when you eat or drink something with these harmful bugs in it. Stomach ache, vomiting, diarrhoea and less frequently fever headache and body ache follow which can lead to dehydration and exhaustion. Pregnant women who have lowered immunity to accommodate their babies usually suffer more severe consequences. There is the possibility of miscarriage, severe health problems in the baby, premature labour and in extreme cases, even death. Alarmingly, food poisoning can sometimes exist without symptoms in the mother and the bugs can move in and quietly infect the baby.
Keep the bugs away
The thought of bugs affecting your unborn baby is scary, but don’t panic. There is good news. These bugs run miles away when certain food safety rules are followed and certain foods avoided.
Stay away from the risky stuff
1. Throughout pregnancy it is a good idea to avoid eating undercooked meat and seafood. Watch out for kababs – they are sometimes - only partially cooked on the inside.
2. It is best not to eat raw fruits and vegetables in salads if there is a chance of their being unwashed.
3. Soft cheeses are likely to be made with unpasteurized milk and are unsafe. Cheeses like Feta, Brie and Camembert should not be eaten during pregnancy unless they specifically say “made with pasteurized milk”. Watch out for locally available non packaged paneer and cream as well – these are not safe either.
4. Raw undercooked eggs by themselves or in mousses, custards, salad dressings and sauces should be skipped.
5. Always prefer fried eggs to sunny side up.
6. Unpasteurized milk is a strict no-no. Even if the milk is boiled, it is not uncommon to find that the boiling has been inadequate. UHT milk is the best to consume. And since UHT milk is packaged in Tetra Pak cartons – it does not require boiling either. It thus tastes better, retains all its nutrients and is more convenient to consume. Just cut – pour and drink.
7. Juices that are not sold packaged in Tetra Pak cartons must also be avoided as they are not pasteurized and may contain bugs.
The bugs causing food poisoning can be present in food that smells and tastes good and so it is vital not to abandon these golden rules when you are eating for two.
I want to leave my child a safe, nontoxic world. I want her to have air that is clean and pure to inhale. And I want her to have open spaces to walk through – spaces that are not lined with garbage piled high.
And in my corner of the world – with my tiny little efforts – I endeavour to make the world the place that I dream of leaving my little one.
I am not saying I am perfect. I am far from it.
I do drive several times when I can easily take a bus. I do forget my cloth bag on several occasions and am compelled to ask for a plastic bag. And when I am moving between rooms in the house – multitasking at a crazy pace - I do tend to leave lights on in rooms where they are no longer needed. But all I can say in my defence is - that I try.
I try and ensure that the words - Reduce - Reuse - Recycle flash in my mind all the time.
Every time I put something into the dustbin – I ask myself – did I slip up?
Was there an opportunity to reduce that I missed out on?
Could I have reused what I am putting into the dustbin?
Will it be possible to recycle what I am discarding after use?
One of the things that gave me pangs of guilt on an everyday basis when they hit the dustbin – were the Tetra Pak cartons that made their way into my dustbin.
I am a firm believer in the goodness of UHT sterilized Tetra Pak packaged milk. I am convinced that this is the milk that is safest and best for my family. And of course I leave no stone unturned to offer my family health and happiness on a platter – and so I always use milk packaged in Tetra Pak.
But every time I threw the carton that housed the milk before it was used – into the dustbin – I was compelled to ask myself this question.
Is what is good for my family – just as good for the environment?
What will happen to this carton? Can it be recycled? Will it be recycled? What can one make out of these cartons?
All my questions were answered when I visited the Tetra Pak factory in April this year.
Tetra Pak has found a way to recycle the six layered packaging that it uses to “protect what is good” and keep the food we eat – safe.
Everyone who works for Tetra Pak has visiting cards made of paper created from recycling these cartons.
The cartons are also turned into furniture – chairs, tables and desks. I saw some of this furniture in use at the Tetra Pak factory – but what they really do with the furniture that they manufacture is create desks and benches that they donate to schools for the underprivileged.
Isn’t that amazing? Not only are the cartons we discard – recycled. They also go towards helping educate the children and creating a better tomorrow!
Also saving the environment is not just about recycling – so I find that I pollute the environment much less when I use milk packaged in Tetra Pak.
I buy a month’s supply of milk from the supermarket in one go. I can do that because the milk has a shelf life of 6 months. Something I certainly cannot do with regular milk. I thus save transport fuel.
Because the milk is UHT sterilised – I don’t need to boil it repeatedly unlike regular milk. This saves kitchen fuel.
Also the milk that makes its way to my house does not need to be refrigerated as it is transported because of its unique packaging – markedly reducing its carbon footprint on the world.
And because of the way the packages are shaped – maximum number of packages can be transported in minimum space and this ensures fewer trips to transport the milk – another way in which transport fuel is saved.
So by using milk packaged in Tetra Pak – in my own way – I am saving the environment.
I am a happy Mom now. I am doing everything right for my little one.
Even to my 5 year old eyes – the stalls looked dirty.
But even in the flickering light of the single hurricane that lit up the grubby stalls – the joy on the faces of the people eating at the stall was unmistakable.
But was I allowed near that fountain of joy? No. And that was a very emphatic – no – from my parents.
The rules about golgappa stalls were non-negotiable in my house.
To my parents – these stalls and the golgappas they served – were nothing more than hotbeds of disease causing germs and as the caretakers of our health and well-being they were not going to be swayed by aromas, flavours or their children’s pleading faces.
So I was a rebellious teenager – when I finally tasted the forbidden golgappas.And were they yummy? They were exquisite – mouth-watering – just simply amazing.
But as my mouth watered – my heart beat faster too. I knew I was playing with fire. With every bite – I was swallowing large doses of disease causing organisms.
Even with rebellion raging in my head - I was scared - and with good reason.
It was dangerous to eat at those unhygienic stalls - and the danger of falling sick – ensured that my rebellion was short lived.
The memory of the flavours however lingered.
Eight years ago – with the arrival of my daughter – I plunged into parenthood.
Golgappa stalls? I wouldn’t even let my daughter look at them – I was that paranoid.
But I felt guilty too. I was depriving her – I had to admit. Depriving her of a taste that she was sure to love.
I tried to recreate the same flavour at home. But my attempts at recreating the authentic golgappa flavours in the kitchen - unfortunately– were far short of perfect.
Then one day packaged golgappa pani caught my eye as I walked into a departmental store. I blinked and then blinked again.
“Yooohooo” – was what I wanted to scream.
Yesssss!!! the forbidden food – had been stamped with a seal of safety. Now I could indulge my family with the flavours I so wanted them to experience – without worrying about them falling sick.
I bought the small packs at first - but seeing how much my family loved the taste - I soon switched to the 1 litre pack - packaged by Tetra Pak
When I took on the mantle of Safe Food Ambassador for Tetra Pak this year – I had a chance to visit their factory in Chakan near Pune.
I hadn’t expected it – but found that they have a whole wing dedicated to product innovation – where they are constantly working towards packaging more and more such things in their marvelous packaging material – so that they can take worry off the minds of Moms like me. It is their everyday endeavor that we worry a little less about our kids falling sick - even as we allow them to experience the wonderful taste of things that are typically Indian.
Now I am looking forward to having packaged sugarcane juice. It is something I haven’t tasted for years now – because I am terrified of Typhoid and Hepatitis.
I am sure their team will have it on the shelves soon.
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay Tetra Pak!!!