KARACHI: The Ministry of Health has ordered the Directorate General of Plant Protection (DPP) to stop the clearance of any container carrying betel nut (supari) that has arrived at Karachi port.
The reason for this order is that some of the containers have been found to contain excess levels of aflatoxin, a toxic substance produced by certain fungi that can cause liver damage and cancer.
The Ministry of Health said that it has received information from a competent authority about the contamination of betel nut imports and has directed the DG, DPP to take necessary action in the matter. The Ministry also said that it will issue further orders regarding the disposal or treatment of the contaminated betel nut after receiving a report from the DG, DPP.
Betel nut is a widely consumed stimulant in Pakistan and other parts of Asia. It is often chewed with tobacco, lime and spices. However, it can also pose health risks such as oral cancer, tooth decay and gum disease. The presence of aflatoxin in betel nut can further increase the risk of liver cancer and other serious illnesses.