Move over, chilli. The season of jaggery, ghee and milk adulteration is around the corner, what with the ingredients being extensively used to prepare sweets for the festive season that begins with Christmas and lasts till Sankranti.
“Leave alone adulteration, some traders also prepare artificial milk. As jaggery turns black, some traders use sulphur dioxide to lend it a fresh look,” zonal in-charge, food safety, N Poornachandra Rao said.
Adulteration of ghee, milk and jaggery is a regular occurrence in the Guntur, Krishna and the east and west Godavari districts. “Apart from conducting raids on chilli powder millers, cold storages and traders, we are also cracking the whip on manufacturers and traders of ghee, milk, jaggery and other commodities,” Rao said.
But, with only a few food inspectors on its rolls, the department is faced with the daunting task of stop adulterated commodities from entering the market before the festive season. As per official records, at least 629 personnel are supposed to function in 13 districts as against the present strength of 29. “The situation is so bad that food safety inspectors do not even have a vehicle to commute to sites of inspections regularly,” a senior official rued.
While the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu (520), Maharashtra (380), Karnataka (275) and Kerala (175) have upped their food safety staff strength, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are far behind. “We have 29 employees, Telangana has only 17,” an Andhra Pradesh official explained.
The situation is likely to turn around with the government planning to recruit 26 employees from APPSC. “Once the finance department approves, we will appoint more food inspectors,” health minister Kamineni Srinivas said.