Inconsequential as a ban on ghee usage might sound, the implications are many, from the areas of authoritarianism and impinging on personal freedom to public health. Regardless of which side of the fence one falls, the Punjab Food Authority’s (PFA) ban on the sale and manufacture of clarified butter is a potential game changer in the food world and could be pivotal in the overall fitness of Punjab.
On the one hand, the detriments of ghee consumption are widespread; its high fat content is a gateway to many ailments associated with obesity and even just being overweight, including heart disease and diabetes. Even though modern science might have outlined some minimal benefits, the harmful facts about a high ghee diet outweigh the benefits, with other food sources providing the same healthful nutrition without the high fat content. Therefore, the PFA’s decision could be monumental in forever altering the diet of the people of Punjab and their overall fitness, making for an interesting longitudinal case study for nutritionists in terms of what ailments are alleviated and what new health issues arise with the absence of dietary ghee in coming years.
Conversely, at the other end of the spectrum, is the question of whether the agency can outright ban an item that many people prefer and swear by. Is it just to ban the product, as opposed to requiring health label warnings, much like on cigarette packets? It also cannot be ruled out that there might be a political foul play here. On that note, why not ban other products that nutritionists consider ‘garbage food’ such as high-sodium chips and high-sugar junk foods and soda? It is reassuring to see the PFA dutifully investigating the healthfulness of foods. It will be intriguing to see how much ghee usage can actually be phased out by 2020.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2017.