Third party safety audit on the cards, says CEO of food safety body
NEW DELHI :
The Railways and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will work together to ensure improved safety standards of the food being served in trains. The food regulator said it will also get a third party safety audit done soon.
“Our role will be to partner with the Railways and bring in systemic changes and improvements. Therefore, we will be getting a third party food safety audit done soon. This is not going to be an accounts or a performance audit, but a food safety audit which will help us understand the gaps within their systems in terms food safety,” Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, told BusinessLine.
The Railways was in the news recently when an incident in the high-profile Tejas Express was reported wherein 24-26 people were hospitalised after “food poisoning”. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), however, denied any food quality issues in its preliminary probe report. Incidentally, CAG in its report, earlier had also termed the food served in trains as “unfit” for human consumption.
In the new catering policy, IRCTC has called for zones of the Indian Railways or IRCTC to ensure good quality and hygienic food to passengers.
However, ensuring quality processes across the supply chain for food served is a huge challenge, given that Railways has over 7,000 stations and moves over 2.2 crore passengers every day.
IRCTC serves about four-five lakh meals a day in about 350 trains where it has pantry cars. It will be modernising its base kitchens at 12 locations — where the proposed meal production is is expected to be 5.7 lakh a day.
Third party audit of mobile units and base kitchen is to be undertaken by zonal railway periodically, by hiring an independent agency in accordance with Catering Policy 2017.
As regards the premium Tejas Express, which runs between Mumbai and Goa, catering services are optional for passengers and are factored in the fare. However, if a passenger asks for catering services at a later stage, an extra ₹50 per cent per service is levied, in addition to the cost of catering charges.
To spruce up its catering quality, IRCTC plans to set up new kitchens and upgrade the existing ones, which will be owned, operated and managed by it, and it shall be fully accountable for all issues pertaining to the base kitchens and quality of food.
All four base kitchens under departmental operation of Zonal Railways (Nagpur, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Mumbai Central and Balharshah) and all kitchen units — refreshment rooms at A1 and A category stations, Jan Ahaar, Cell Kitchens shall be handed over to IRCTC on ‘as is where is basis’.
It also plans to introduce station based e-catering, pre-cooked food (‘ready to eat’ meals) , operation of centralised Catering Service Monitoring Cell for prompt redressal of passenger grievances relating to catering.
However, carrying out a third party safety audit, though desirable, remains a huge challenge with the Railways managing a wide network of catering services spread over 131 base kitchens, 7,957 static catering units, 358 mobile catering units, 164 departmental refreshment rooms, 86 food plazas and 69 fast food units.
Seizes suspected adulterated food items
Jamshedpur : With Diwali a few hours away, the district health department has embarked on a special drive to check the quality of sweets sold at various stalls across the city.
State health department’s food and safety wing on Tuesday conducted raids at four sweet shops and workshop at Sakchi and Jugsalai, keeping in view supplying of adulterated sweet meats during the festival of Diwali.
The shops which were raided at Sakchi include Gokul Sweat Shop on Medicine Line and a `khowa’ wholesale shop on Tank Road. The team of food and safety wing raided at the workshop of Gangaur Sweets and ChhappanBhog in Jugsalai.
Revealing about the raids, Dr GulabLakra, food safety officer who led a two member team said that they had first gone over to the Tin Shed on Tank Road at Sakchi where there were four wholesale Khowa suppliers.
“We have been receiving complaints of food adulteration from theseunits and have collected samples which would be sent to food testinglaboratory at Ranchi today evening,” he said.
Lakra further added: “We had to conduct raid and take samples of Khowa from all these four shops, but as we started taking samples of the khowa and completing at one the shop, the owners of remaining three shops fled, having downed their shutters.”
“At the Gokul Sweat Shop we collected the samples of KajuBarfi, and BesanLadoo. At Jugsalai also we took the samples of KajuBarfi, BesanLadoo and Chhana-based sweets from the workshops of Gangaur Sweets and ChhapanBhog,” said the food safety officer.
The officer added that samples were being collected mainly to checkadulteration and use of non-permitted colours. “Samples will be sentto the laboratory and based on its report action will be taken,” they added.
Use of harmful synthetic colours, including dyes were not permitted.But small manufacturers use the banned items just to give more colourto the sweets so as to make it attractive, officials said.
Most of the sweets manufactured in the district were from theunorganised sector — houses or group of people joining together tomake a fast buck.
Actions against the sweet manufacturer, after lab report would beinitiated as per Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 (revised in 2012
PATNA: The food safety wing of state health department on Tuesday seized 570kg of substandard ghee and cream kept in 38 containers at a Masaurhi dairy, which supplies milk products to many sweetshops in Patna.
“We also found 20kg ‘khoya’ that was not fit for consumption,” said Mukesh Kashyap, who led the three-member team, which raided different sweet shops in Masaurhi, Nadma and Punpun areas of Patna district.
The raids are conducted on the eve of Diwali ever year to check the market for adulterated sweetmeats. The team had also raided one shop each at Ramnagri and Machhuatoli and four in Kadamkuan locality on Monday and three shops near Saguna Mor on Sunday.
The officials found a layer of aluminium, and not silver, foil over many sweets. They said silver foil is good for health, but many traders use aluminium foil as it costs less. “Some traders are also using non-food colours instead of food colours,” added Kashyap.
Dr Himanshu Kumar from Patna Medical College and Hospital’s medicine department, said adulteration can cause serious gastric problems and may also affect kidney and liver. “Consumption of aluminium foil and non-food colours, that are often toxic, may lead to encephalitis and can affect muscles and also cause Alzheimer’s,” he said.
Dr Diwakar Tejaswi said artificial sweeteners and non-approved food colours may also cause rashes and insomnia. “If someone experiences abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting or loose motion, they should consult a doctor,” he said and added that consumption of adulterated food may also lead to insomnia and intestinal disorder. Prolonged consumption may also cause changes in the gene which may lead to cancer.
Doctors, meanwhile, recommend the use of homemade sweets that are not only delicious but nutritious as well.
Panaji: Continuing with its ongoing drive, the Food and Drugs (FDA) administration on Tuesday raided a premises at St Cruz near ID Hospital, Ponda which was found to be operating under unhygienic conditions. The sweet and snack manufacturing unit was operated by Ramdev Modi.
“He was found operating the unit without any licence,” said FDA director, Salim Veljee. The utensils used for preparing the sweets were rusted, while water was stored in an open area.
“The food business operator was directed to stop the illegal activities immediately, and the premises has been sealed,” he said.
The officials confiscated about 100 kgs of sweets such as kaju burfi and bundi laadoo and mava of 55 kgs which were found stored in rusted tins. All the food items have been confiscated.
The raiding team consisted of senior food safety officer (FSO), Rajiv Korde, FSO Atul Dessai and staff Uday Arsekar and Rama Gaonkar.
Navi Mumbai: Ahead of Diwali, a joint raid was conducted by PCMC health department and FDA that sealed a sweet manufacturing unit at Kamothe node and seized around 66kg of sweets (Barfi and Khawa) worth Rs 15,500 for not complying to food safety and standard rules as the manufacturing premises was found to be extremely unhygienic and unhealthy. FDA officials will soon revoke the licence of the unit. The raid was carried out on Monday.
Acting on a tip, the PCMC health department reached the spot and summoned FDA officials for further proceeding which took hours to seize the products and seal the unit. “We found the unit in a shoddy condition. We took samples of the sweets to be sent to laboratory for a test,” said Balaji Shinde, food safety inspector.
The FDA officials slapped a stop-activity notice on the unit called Shreeji Sweets and Nilkanth Bhatti. “We received a few complaints from the locals,” said a PCMC official.