Food Safety Enforcement News – India this week – April 30 th

GENERAL

Oil & packaged drinking water brands of reputed cos fail quality tests

State food safety departments in many parts of India have found brands of major companies failing quality tests. Vegetable oils like Saffola Gold and Fortune and packaged drinking water were among the products tested for quality by the regulators over the past year-and-a-half. Interestingly, the regulators have also found cases of counterfeit products among the samples collected for quality checks.

In Rajasthan, samples of Saffola Gold blended edible vegetable oil were collected from Sawai Madhopur, and reportedly found sub-standard by the state authorities. Naresh Kumar Chenjara, food safety officer, Sawai Madhopur, said, “On May 9, 2016, random checking of Saffola Gold blended edible vegetable oil samples was conducted with reference to the parameters laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).”

“The probe results came out on May 27, 2016. The sample was considered sub-standard, as it had an acid value of 1.12 units instead of the permitted value of 0.50units. That is, it was found to be 0.62 units higher,” he added.

The report stated, “The sample of Saffola Gold blended edible vegetable oil (loose) bearing the code number and serial number (H-875) of the designated officer and chief medical and health officer (CM&HO), Sawai Madhopur, is sub-standard, as it does not conform to the prescribed provisions of the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.”

The officer added, “In last so many years, there are hardly any products by any company which have received a clean chit when random inspections were carried out. There is always something lacking in the products, as the company fails to comply with the set parameters set by the authority.”

A similar case was reported from Bundi, Rajasthan. Giriraj Sharma, the city’s food safety officer, collected a sample of Fortune physically-refined rice bran oil for analysis on May 16, 2016. It was allegedly found to be sub-standard.

The result indicated the acid value of the collected sample was 0.67 units. The prescribed limit under the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011, should not be more than 0.5 units.

When asked about the further development on the matter, Sharma informed, “The report has been already sent to higher authorities in Jaipur, but we are yet to get a response to take any further action.”

Meanwhile, such cases have also been reported in the south. A Rama Krishnan, food safety officer, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, confirmed that 200 random samples of packaged drinking water were collected for the purpose of testing.

He informed, “We had collected 200 samples of packaged drinking water brands of different companies from different parts of the region. Eleven of these were tested under the set parameters of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), of which four were found to be misleading. The report result stated that the products were categorised as misbranded, sub-standard and unsafe.”

“The label on the product was improper. The batch number and best-before date were missing from the label. The prescribed ph value of water should be between 6.5 to 8.5. However, the sample collected had a low ph value of 6. Along with these missing parameters, E coli and chlorine, which should be absent, were present in the sample,” added Krishnan.

The Chennai High Court had directed the company to withdraw their products and use the plant only for the purpose of maintenance and not for selling. Later, as per the court order, the products were retested and cleared for resale.

Not only were there reports of sub-standard food products in Maharashtra and Haryana, but there were some reports of counterfeit products from the two states as well.

Suresh Annapure, joint commissioner, Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said, “Recently, the food inspector from our region, during his routine inspection, found counterfeit samples of Amul.” He stated that the authority was considering action.

Similar reports came from Haryana, where the state FDA raided a few places in Sonepat and found counterfeit products. Naresh Ahuja, assistant commissioner, Haryana FDA, stated that a case had been registered against two persons in this regard.

And a continuous vigil is on. H G Koshia, food safety commissioner, Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) Gujarat, informed, “On a regular basis, inspections are carried out by allocated designated food safety officers in different regions. Thus, inspections of both branded as well as of non-branded products keep happening.”

“Last week, illegal samples of spices like coriander powder and chilli powder were seized during the inspection in the southern part of Gujarat. Around two tons of goods, amounting to Rs 4 lakh, were seized. We have sealed their company premises. Investigations are on, and once we have the report in hand, further action will be taken accordingly,” he said.

 
 

Food regulator tells states to crack down on use of contaminated ice blocks

The current FSSAI guidelines on ice quality only concern the edible kind, and there are no standards set for ice that come into contact with food products
Workers stack blocks of ice on a hot summer day in Kolkata.
Consuming contaminated ice cubes is as bad for health as drinking impure water, and can lead to many waterborne illnesses.
Taking this into consideration, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) – the country’s top food regulator – issued a directive mandating state governments to crack down on people found using ice blocks made of impure water for preserving, storing and transporting perishable food items.
“Yes, we have issued a circular that mandates states to crack down on the use of bad quality ice slabs to preserve food items, including meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. It is as harmful for one’s health to have ice made of contaminated water as it is to have contaminated water directly,” said an FSSAI official on the condition of anonymity.
“It has been observed that ice blocks used for preservation/storage/transportation of perishable food commodities are often made from non-potable water and handled un-hygienically, which leads to the contamination of the food commodity stored/preserved/transported in such ice…” the FSSAI order read.
The current FSSAI guidelines on ice quality only concern the edible kind, and there are no standards set for ice that come into contact with food products.
“It has been decided that any ice/ice blocks used for preserving/storing/transporting food products or coming in contact with food products shall conform to the microbiological requirements prescribed for edible ice…” the order further read.
Dr Mukesh Mehra, associate director for internal medicine at Max Hospital in Patparganj, said this order was particularly significant because the country witnesses an increase in waterborne infections during the summer. “This is because people tend to drink water and juice with doubtful ice quality from vendors sitting in the open,” he added.
So, what are the symptoms you should look out for if you come down with a waterborne disease? If you have high fever with diarrhoea, it may be typhoid.
The symptoms for jaundice are varied. If you suffer from fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and your skin and eyes are yellowed, there’s a good chance that you have this disease. Also check if the colour of your urine has become yellow or reddish.
 

Government scrutinises FSSAI for underutilisation of funds by parliamentary committee

The Parliamentary Committee on Department of Health and Family Affairs has pulled up the health department for underutilisation of funds by the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). 
“FSSAI was established in 2006. The status of safety, regulation, manufacturing, processing, distribution, sale and import of food items for human consumption shows a dreary picture in the country,” it added. “The slow progress of the developmental activities and initiatives would hamper the quality of work being rendered in the context of safety and standardisation of food items across the country,” the report said.
It said that for three consecutive fiscal years (between 2014-15 and 2016-17), the funds allocated to the FSSAI were underutilised. It added that food safety, being a neglected area in the country, needed more attention.
The committee, in its report on grants to the department for this fiscal, termed the situation dreary, while stating that progress as far as food safety and standardisation was concerned was slow.
The report said, “The Committee is of the view that safety and standardisation of food is a neglected area in India, and the department needs to focus more in this field.” “Since there are numerous domains under FSSAI, the underutilisation of budgeted funds indicates negligence in this area and poor financial planning on the part of the concerned authority,” it added.
In 2014-15, against the budgetary allocation of Rs 60 crore, the expenditure was Rs 41.11 crore. In 2015-16, the allocation was Rs 72 crore and the expenditure was Rs 54.88 crore, while in the last fiscal, FSSAI was allocated Rs 72 crore and spent just Rs 52 crore until February 14, 2017.
The committee urged that appropriate measures be taken to arrest the shortfall in the utilisation of budgetary funds and strengthening of food testing systems/ laboratories in a time-bound manner. It also emphasised on the need for mobile food testing labs in the country, while acknowledging that it would take some time before a full-fledged system starts working and awareness prevails amongst the masses.
The committee recommended that the results of all the food items being tested should be made public through advertisements and news in electronic, print and social media to make the public aware of the same.
It also asked the department to set desirable and achievable targets and seek additional funds depending upon the implementation of the scheme at a later stage. The Department of Health and Family Affairs, meanwhile, has also informed that the Central Sector Scheme for the strengthening of the food testing system in the country, which includes a provision for mobile food testing labs with a cost of Rs 481.95 crore, was approved by the competent authority in September 2016.
FSSAI is the implementing agency of the scheme. A demand for Rs 114.20 crore for FSSAI, including Rs 48 crore under the grant-in-aid (capital) for the said scheme was made in revised estimates (2016-17).
However, Rs 72 crore was allocated as RE (2016-17). The amount of Rs 133.58 crore have been provided as against the projected demand of Rs 324.75 crore in BE (2017-18) and additional funds will be sought depending upon the implementation of the scheme in due course of time.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has been assigned to do a comprehensive performance audit of FSSAI. Issues such as standards’ formulation, regulations making, product approval, compliance and surveillance activities will be put under scanner.
FSSAI came into being in August 2011 after Parliament passed the Food Safety and Standards Act in 2006. It is a statutory body for laying down of science-based standards for articles of food and regulating the manufacturing, processing, distribution, sale and import of food so as to ensure safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

FSSAI helpline

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has launched a helpline number for the convenience of public and food business operators to submit their grievances through WhatsApp application.
The helpline number 94440-42322 enables consumers to report grievances. Food safety officials said that grievances related to consumables covered under FSSAI Act can be submitted to authorities through the helpline number.
AP / TELENGANA

Use of carbide continues in ripening of mangoes

A file photo artificially ripened mangoes (Inset) calcium carbide
Kakinada: Though the mango season began with an expected bumper crop yield in East Godavari, commission agents were adopting unfair practices to make some easy money. Farmers were in anticipation of good financial returns with an expected yield between 90,000 tonne to one lakh tonne in 16,500 hectares in the district. The middlemen between the farmers and consumers, also known as commission agents were using calcium carbide to ripe mangoes artificially. 
Highlights:
  • Middlemen resort to artificial ripening methods of mangoes using calcium carbide instead of traditional ethylene chambers to make easy money 
  • Gastritis, loose motions and stomach disorders are some of the health problems that will be caused by consuming artificially ripened fruits 
Instead of opting for the natural ripening process using ethylene chambers which are provided on 50 per cent subsidy by horticulture department, calcium carbide in powder form is used, thereby depriving natural fruits to consumers. East Godavari horticulture assistant director K Gopi Kumar said they had been providing natural ripening chambers of one tonne capacity. “We supplied these chambers to more than 130 farmers in the district. 
These ethylene chambers would boost the natural ethylene content in mango fruit to enhance the taste. This is in no way harmful to human consumption particularly to children. The government should ban the sale of carbide in powder form and provide the carbide to licensed users to avoid misusage,” he said. Senior physician and president, Kakinada chapter Indian Medical Association, Dr Ramswarop Jawahar observed that usage of carbide causes severe health disorders including gastritis, loose motions and other stomach disorders, especially among children. 
When contacted FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India), East Godavari food sampling inspector Kalyan Chakravarty said they had been conducting raids where the artificial ripening process is taking place in the district. “On Monday we registered two cases in Jaggampeta area. As we have less field staff, we are not in a position to conduct more raids on outlets of artificial ripening,” the official clarified.
 

No Ramzan relief from Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation raids

HYDERABAD: The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) is no mood to spare hoteliers, and will continue its crackdown on eateries even during the month of Ramzan.
“The eateries should maintain proper hygiene and take all the precautionary measures while preparing haleem,” the civic body said in a statement.
The GHMC penalised Reddy’s Kitchen, Malkajgiri with 20,000 on Tuesday for maintaining an unhygienic condition, encroachment of its fast food joint and constructing a second floor without municipal permission.
The GHMC said it will carry out inspections under the supervision of the heath and sanitation wing of GHMC, veterinary doctors, officials of Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) and police, unlike previous raids which were conducted by the zone commissioners.
“Transparency should be maintained while imposing the fines on restaurants and the eateries inspected will be selected by lottery system,” said GHMC Commissioner B Janardhan Reddy, addressing the civic officials at GHMC head office on Tuesday.
The total number of hotels inspected since April 3 is 354 and out of those 198 hotels were found violating norms. The total amount fine imposed on these hotels is 16.5 lakh. During the inspections, the civic officials found unstamped meat, stale food being used in cooking, unhygienic kitchens and unclean wash rooms.
The GHMC has appealed hoteliers to follow norms as per the Food Safety Standards Act 2006. There are around 18 such norms. Medical check-up of staff, using gloves, masks and head caps while serving food, using stale food are the most common norms which the eateries failed to follow, according to the heath and sanitation wing officials of GHMC.
GOA

FDA seizes 350kg of bananas

Panaji: The directorate of food and drugs administration (FDA) on Friday confiscated 350kg of artificially ripened bananas from the yard of the Mapusa market in a surprise surveillance drive at the Mapusa municipal market.
Fruit wholesaler Jayaram Laximan Naik was found artificially ripening bananas in the yard using the chemical ethepon, a plant growth regulator agent.
The entire consignment of 350kg, worth Rs 18,000, and the bottles of chemical found at the site were seized. Officials from the FDA’s food testing laboratory conducted a spot verification of the exposure of residual chemical on the fruit, the results of which were positive. A case has been booked against Naik under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.


GUJARAT

Attention mango lovers, your fruit is eating you!

Even as Gujarat High Court on Thursday took suo motu cognisance of the health hazard caused by mangoes ripened by calcium carbide, mango traders in the city continue to play havoc with public health. As it often happens in our country, though rules and regulations are in place to check the sale of carbide, a banned substance, lack of strict implementation of the same ensures rogue traders go unpunished.
Mirror investigation reveals that in the past five years, 29,560 kg of carbide-ripened mangoes have been destroyed and 205 kg of carbide seized by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The authorities have also collected Rs 4,69,400 in fine, but not a single trader has been arrested or blacklisted despite violating the rules repeatedly.
The Food Safety (Prohibition and Restriction in Sale) Regulations, 2011, bans sale of fruits ripened by acetylene gas or Calcium Carbide, which has carcinogenic properties. Available easily in the market for Rs 3 per sachet, this welding agent can adversely affect the nervous system and also cause gastric problems. Besides, AMC says it is impossible for laboratories to confirm the presence of calcium carbide in the seized mangoes. The acetylene gas formed by exposure of calcium carbide with moisture is what induces artificial ripening. Since it is a volatile gas, its residue cannot be traced from mangoes.
AMC health department raided 25 shops in Kalupur market on Thursday and sealed two shops that sold carbide-ripened mangoes; they destroyed 400 kg of mangoes and seized 4 kg carbide. More than10,000 kg of mangoes in places across Gujarat have been seized and destroyed and 19 vendors from Ahmedabad alone found guilty of using carbide, said Dr HG Koshia, Commissioner, Food and Drug Control Administration of Gujarat. “Since calcium carbide is an industrial substance not meant for food consumption, criminal proceedings can be initiated against the accused under the Public Health Act, said Dr HGKoshia, Com missioner, Food and Drug Control Administration of Gujarat. But here is the catch. “While such vendors are liable to be booked under the Food Safety Act which could invite a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh and two years of imprisonment, it is difficult for us to prove who is responsible for placing the seized carbide sachet in the mango boxes. So, no body has been prosecuted or convicted so far. Also, it is also impossible to detect carbide in the mangoes,” said Bhavin Solanki, in-charge health officer, AMC.
Shyam Rohra, president of Fruit Wholesale Merchant Association, says it is even more difficult to prosecute someone if the traders have thrown away the carbide pouches from mango boxes after the mangoes have ripened.”How do you know whether the farmer put it or the wholesaler or the retailer?” he said. Elaborating on the health hazard of consuming carbide-ripened mangoes, Anindita Mehta, laboratory director, Consumer Education and Research Centre, said, “Acetylene gas pro duced due to the carbide can adversely affect the nervous system and lead to reduced supply of oxygen to blood, mood disturbances and mental confusion, and drowsiness.
“Excess amount of it can also lead to amnesia or paralysis. Unwashed mangoes, if consumed, can lead to skin and stomach ulcers.”
 
VMC Health Officers check food outlets
Vadodara: Food safety officers of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) on Wednesday conducted extensive checking of outlets selling food items and beverages widely consumed during summer. The teams checked 26 outlets selling mango juice or shake, 13 outlets selling sugarcane juice, three shops selling mangoes and seven roadside watermelon shops. A large quantity of mangoes and mango shake were destroyed by the teams. The drive was conducted in the Makarpura, Manjalpur, Tarsali, Sayajigunj, Akota, Old Padra Road, Vasna Road, Gotri and other areas.

Eating on roadside not a ‘smart’ idea

 
If you are unable to resist the urge to dig into spicy water-filled crispy pani puris, samosas, kachoris and gulp down delicious ice-golas, limbu sikanji and other juices, you are inviting trouble. High faecal contamination in junk food items is likely to affect your health.
The onset of May ushers in scare about outbreak of water-borne diseases in the Diamond City. Past experience shows that apart from the heat stroke, it is the water contamination and unhygienic ice-based items and other foods, which have been major cause for jaundice, cholera, etc.
The sale of ice, ice-creams, ice-dishes, fruit dishes and juices increases this time of the year as residents consume these items to beat the heat.
The common ingredient in cold food items is ice. Manufacturing of ice used by juice stalls, ice-gola and fruit vendors is done in unhygienic condition at the ice factories across the city. It is a tough challenge for Surat Municipal Corporation’s health department to carry out regular checks at roadside eateries.
The bacterial pathogens commonly found in street eateries are Bacillus Cereus (causes vomiting and diarrhoea), Clostridium Perfringens (abdominal cramps and diarrhoea), Staphylococcus Aureus (vomiting, appetite loss, abdominal cramps and mild fever), and Salmonella species (typhoid, food poisoning, irritation and inflammation in gastrointestinal tract).
SMC’s medical officer of health (MoH) Dr Ashish Naik told TOI, “With the onset of summer season and as a part of pre-monsoon drive, we carry out regular inspections and checking at roadside eateries. Recently, we did a week-long operation where more than 350 ice-golas outlets were shut and actions taken against dairies, sweet shops and food stalls. However, we do not collect water and food samples. Our teams are instructed to just close down roadside stalls if the food and other items are prepared under unhygienic conditions.”
The presence of coliform in food items indicates absence of clean water as well as unhygienic conditions at the place where the food was prepared.
“E.coli ends up in food through faecal matter. The source could be contaminated water. At most of the street vendors, or even branded outlets, the quality of water and handling of food lack supervision. The civic body has to act tough under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. Closing down ice-golawalas or roadside eateries for unhygienic conditions is not going to serve any purpose. They (roadside eateries) will again come up with a new set-up,” says medico-legal expert Dr Vinesh Shah.

JAMMU & KASHMIR

Food Safety Tribunal

Growing complaints of impure and infectious food served in public restaurants, hotels and eateries became an alarming issue in the country. It had direct impact on the health of the people. PIL were filed with the Supreme Court to take note of contaminated food served or packed for service. The court took a comprehensive note of the entire issue and handled it as the case deserved to be handled. In 2006, The Food Safety and Standards Act was enacted in 2006 in the State but its rules were framed in 2011 after a lapse of five years, which was the testimony of non-serious approach towards the important piece of legislation right from the very beginning. According to the Act, the State was desired to appoint two Food Safety Appellate Tribunals — one each for Jammu and Kashmir.
However, the State Government did not take the responsibility of enforcing the Food Act with as much seriousness as was desired and the matter lingered on for a long time. A PIL was filed with the Supreme Court and as a result the court reprimanded the State Government for showing scant respect to the question of implementation of the Food Act. Even the State High Court also cast aspersions on the State Government for violating the clauses of the Act by not appointing the Tribunals as stipulated in the Act. After being reprimanded by the Supreme Court and High Court of Jammu and Kashmir over tardy implementation of this Act, the Department of Health and Medical Education on February 10, 2016 issued orders for the appointment of two Tribunals as per Rule 3.2.2 of the Food Safety and Standard Rules. However, appointment of two Tribunals did not mean that the Act had become functional in the State. The Tribunals need manpower and paraphernalia that would help them become functional. Such facilities have not been provided and only a lackadaisical attitude was adopted by the State Government. It clearly showed that the Government is not really serious that Food Act should be implemented in true spirit. These Tribunals are required to hear appeals from the decisions of the Adjudicating Officers under Section 68 of the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006. The Additional Deputy Commissioners of every district have been designated as Adjudicating Officer as per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
The appointment of Presiding Officers of Food Safety Appellate Tribunals was welcomed in the wake of large number of pending cases related to unsafe, substandard and misbranded food products and items with the District Magistrates and in civil courts. However, in the absence of necessary paraphernalia, the Tribunals cannot function and the very purpose of the scheme seems to be in a state of stalemate.
The essential question is of the health of people. Food safety is becoming a serious matter since people are becoming more and more aware of consuming the right type of food. This is a delicate technical matter in which millions of peoples’ health is involved. Therefore, we would implore the State Government to divert its attention to the stipulations of the Food Act and provide the wherewithal to two Tribunals so that these become functional without loss of time. Government authorities claim that the posts for the Tribunals have been advertised but selection has not been made so far. They do not say why the selection is not made and when will the posts be filled. The High Court has called the report of the Medical Health Education Department only eyewash. What more aspersions can be cast by the High Court and how long will the department take it lightly.

KERALA

Inspections expose water quality at juice parlours, ice units

Several parlours in Vadakara and Koyilandy to face legal action
The Commissionerate of Food Safety has completed its first round of summer inspections in the district, initiating legal action against 17 juice parlours and five ice manufacturing units where contaminated water was allegedly used for business.
The inspections, which began last Tuesday by a 10-member team, mainly targeted cool bars and soft drink production units in Kozhikode city, Vadakara and Koyilandy regions. Samples were collected from all the suspected shops and sent for the detailed examination of the Regional Analytical Lab at Malaparamba.
Squad members said they served notice on several juice parlours during inspections in the Vadakara and Koyilandy regions where poor quality items had been found. A total of ₹20,000 was collected as fine within four days of the launch of the special drive, they said.
The department decided to conduct a summer special drive close to the heels of the warning issued by the Health Department against the spread of waterborne diseases. Health Department squads too had inspected several shops and industrial ice plants to check the quality of water.
An officer attached to the Food Safety Commissionerate said the special squad would also inspect hotels and restaurants to ensure the quality and cleanliness of food items. “Wayside eateries will be one of the main targets of summer inspections as many of them have been found violating safety standards,” he said.
The summer inspections conducted last year had unveiled a series of flaws on the part of soft drink dealers in various parts of the district. Nearly 150 shop owners had to pay fine for selling impure products. An amount of ₹5.55 lakh was collected as fine.
 

Special squad inspects food joints at Kalamassery

Collector orders closure of all unhygienic eating joints
KOCHI: A special squad of the district administration has begun inspection of eateries at Kalamassery where nearly 40 cases of Hepatitis A were reported in a month.
District Collector K. Mohammed Y. Safirullah has issued orders to close down all unlicensed and unhygienic eating joints in the town.
An emergency meeting of the district administration was called on Wednesday again in this regard.
The squad comprises officials of the municipality, and Food Safety, Health, and Revenue departments. It is being provided adequate police protection.
The district administration has asked owners of food joints to ensure that their employees have health cards. Inspections will also be conducted at ice manufacturing units as ice is the prime suspect for contamination of food. Meat vending units too will be inspected.
It has been found that contaminated water has been flowing into wells. The squad will check the upkeep of toilets. It has inspected 43 eateries so far.
Meanwhile, municipal chairperson Jessy Peter, who attended the meeting, said all councillors would visit houses to create awareness. “Jagrutha Samities in all wards will also be put into action,” she added.
All educational institutions have been asked to ensure that water tanks are kept clean, she said.

Food safety officials to inspect soft drink stalls

 
Summer drive against waterborne diseases
In an effort to prevent waterborne diseases during summer, the Food Safety Department will launch an intensive drive in the district on Tuesday.
This comes close on the heels of the Health Department’s action against a few ice plants which supplied contaminated products in the city recently.
Officials at the Kerala Food Safety Commisisonerate here said squads would test the quality of water being used for making soft drinks and juice in parlours and shops in the district. The hygiene standards of the shops and the quality of packaged products too would be checked during the drive, they said.
O. Sankaranunni, Assistant Commissioner, said there were complaints that many juice parlours were using cheap industrial ice for making soft drinks. “We will look into the issue seriously. A 10-member squad will conduct surprise checks,” he said.
Samples to be collected
Mr. Sankaranunni said samples would be collected from suspected shops for lab tests. If serious quality violations were found, the shops would be shut down immediately for public safety, he said. The summer inspection conducted by the department last year had unveiled a series of flaws on the part of the soft drink dealers in various parts of the district. Around 150 shop owners had been booked for selling contaminated soft drinks and fruit juice and Rs. 5.55 lakh collected as fine from them.
Since the beginning of this summer season, Health Department squads too have been conducting checks. “We have already closed down an ice plant at Beypore which was found supplying contaminated product,” said a health officer. Eleven ice manufacturing units in the coastal area of the city were served notice for violating the quality norms.
There are complaints that many juice parlours are using cheap industrial ice for making soft drinks. We will look into the issue seriously.
O. Sankaranunni
Assistant Commissioner, Kerala Food Safety Commisisonerate.

Kerala: Caution against Hepatitis A outbreak

As many as 40 cases reported until Sunday.
 
Kochi; Nearly 40 cases of Hepatitis A were reported so far as on Sunday from Kalamassery Municipality with 21 cases being reported from the Ernakulam Medical College alone. Meanwhile the Food Safety Department carried out raids at eateries and collected water samples for examination. “The number of cases reported from the Ernakulam Medical College alone is 21 though the disease has also been reported from other areas, too. In most of the cases, the patients are those who eat from outside on a regular basis like street food vendors. For instance the NUALS hostel from where nine cases were reported,” said N. K. Kuttapan, district medical officer.
“Intensive raid was conducted by the Food Safety Department in and around Kalamasserry area in connection with the reports of Hepatitis A outbreak. The squads collected water samples from various sources for chemical and microbiological examination. Three hotels including ‘Pallath’ Restaurant, Kalamasserry, are directed to close down and take rectification measures immediately,” said Shibu K. V., assistant food safety commissioner. The Health department authorities have already issued an alert as the hostels of the MBBS students of Medical College and that of NUALS (National University of Advanced Legal Studies) were closed.
The public has been warned against using contaminated water for cooking and cleaning utensils. Hotels, canteens and catering units have been instructed to use only boiled water for drinking. Health card is mandatory for all employees, especially those who cook or handle food items. Uncooked salads, ice creams and cool drinks being sold in unhygienic condition from outside should be avoided. The authorities have also asked to chlorinate wells and warned against using water from un-chlorinated wells. This comes even as the district reported a diphtheria case with the health department confirming the other day that Ijabur Rahman (16), a migrant worker hailing from Assam who had been staying at Kakkanad in Kochi — died of diphtheria. Another two suspected cases of diphtheria have also been reported from Aluva and Kaloor.
MADHYA PRADESH
Representative image.
Representative image.

BHOPAL: A hookah lounge, running on the pretext of an eatery, was raided by a team comprising sleuths of the Habibganj police and the food department on Thursday night.

 

Raids were conducted at several places. However, it was revealed that a hookah lounge was operating inside an eatery at 10 Number Market. Thirty five people, who were found inside the joint during the raid, were questioned and released late

MAHARASHTRA

HC asks govt to act against unpackaged water sellers as per amended laws

Nagpur: Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Maharashtra government to act against those selling packaged drinking in unsealed containers, as per the per the amendment carried out in the laws on March 1.
“If any fresh cause of action has arisen against anybody after amendment was made, it’s apparent that the respondents have to apply their minds and proceed further, as per the law. They can’t defeat provisions of law as amended or trust put into them by the government,” a division bench comprising justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Vinay Deshpande stated, before adjourning the hearing till June 17.
The court’s orders came while hearing an intervention filed in a PIL by Harish Sarda in 2013, which was admitted by the court for final hearing, while granting a stay for prosecution of proprietors who sell unpackaged water.
On September 6 last year, TOI had published a detailed report on hazards of consuming unpackaged drinking water, which is processed from dingy rooms and in basements, in shops and in houses, without following stringent norms of BIS, FSSAI and FDA. The containers are unpackaged and unsealed, the units are unhygienic and unmonitored and the water not tested regularly.
The intervener argued that the products sold in jars with covers, which can be opened without breaking the seal, would not fall within the definitions stated in the act.
These unsealed containers are not subjected to stringent lab testing as prescribed by the norms of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Food and Drugs Department (FDA).
He contended that packaged drinking water is an item intended for human consumption. Under the Act, the term ‘food’ is defined as ‘any substance, whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed which includes packaged drinking water.’ The Act also defines manufacturer and package, which clearly indicates that water sold for drinking purposes should be sealed in containers.
Whereas the BIS rules say that a water manufacturing unit must have sufficient space for a separate laboratory, raw water storage facility, packing area and loading and unloading points, most of these local units are running in a small room where water storage, Reverse Osmosis (RO) set-up, chilling and moreover washing dirty containers and refilling them are happening at the same time and same place.
PUNJAB

FOOD INSPECTORS TOLD TO BE HARSH WITH ADULTERATORS

The Punjab Government on Thursday issued directions to take strict action against violators of the Food Safety and Standards Act of India (FSSAI).
The directives were issued by the State Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Varun Roojam to all FDA officers during a high level meeting, attended by Assistant Commissioners (Food Safety), all Food Safety Officers and Designated Officers.
Roojam asked the officers to deal with the nefarious elements indulging in malpractice of food adulteration with iron hands.
“As per the directions given by Health and Family Welfare Minister Brahm Mohindra, the Department is committed to curb the practice of food adulteration and immediately put an end to any possible nexus,” he said.
It was emphasised that food adulteration was very sensitive issue, as it touches the life, well-being and health of common people, therefore all necessary measures must be taken by the food safety officers to ensure that only healthy and hygienic food items are sold in the market.
Food Safety Officers were asked to work dedicatedly and also ensure that the adequate food samples are obtained to match the specified targets and routine inspections must also be carried regularly.
FDA Commissioner told the officers to identify the shortcomings within the department and remove them promptly and adopt the best practices to make the system completely transparent and responsive.
Pulling up the districts that have not been able to accomplish the specified targets of food sampling, Roojam directed them to step up their performance and give the desired results without any further delay. “Any complaints being received from public should be looked into and redressed promptly so that a trust between government and public could be built up,” he said.
It was discussed that regular sampling of products of big companies, as well as loose food items being sold in the open market needs to be stepped up, with special emphasis on milk and milk products like khoa, ghee etc as milk products are consumed more frequently by public.

TAMILNADU

Notices served on shops, hotels selling unhygienic food

Madurai: Cracking down on shops and eateries selling unhygienic food at the Mattuthavani bus terminal, officials from the food safety and drug administration conducted surprise raids and issued notices to those who were not adhering to the standards.

The officials also said that they will take further course of action based on the reply received from the eateries and hotels. Meanwhile, the unhygienic food seized from the eateries was destroyed.

A strong 124-member team led by designated food safety officer for Madurai, Dr S Lakshmi Narayanan conducted the raids at Mattuthavani bus terminal and its nearby hotels. Officials said the raids were conducted following a large number of complaint from the consumers.

Officials said that more than 120 shops were inspected after the officials divided themselves into different teams.

During the raids conducted simultaneously, many of the shops were found to be selling eatables without mentioning the manufacturing date and the date of expiry.
 
Similarly, hotels near the bus terminal were also found to be selling unhygienic food. Some of them were found to be using excessive colouring agents. In one of the hotels, a batch of mushrooms was found stored beyond the expiry date.
Officials said that the shopkeepers and hoteliers were severely warned. They were also issued with notices for which they have to file their reply in a week’s time. Based on the reply, legal measures would be initiated. They said that similar raids would continue to take place.

UTTAR PRADESH

300 litres adulterated milk seized, 2 booked

AGRA: Food Safety and Drug Administration (FSDA) officials seized more than 300 litres of adulterated milk and arrested two persons on Tuesday.
The officials swooped down on Nari village of Dauki policejurisdiction led by designated officer Vineet Kumar of FSDA. After taking samples, the officials dumped the seized milk packets.
“The tainted milk packets were made of liquid detergent, soyabean oil, mahua oil, glucose, maltose powder and several other chemicals,” said Kumar, one of the officers involved in the raid.
“We have seized four litres of detergent liquid, 15 litres of chemical, 300 litres of adulterated synthetic milk, 15 litres of mahua oil, 30 liters of soyabean oil from the private diary farm,” he said. “The raid was conducted on minister’s order to rein in food adulteration,” he added.
The FSDA lodged a complaint against Darelal and Naresh and handed them over to police.
Remote areas like Dauki, Kheragarh are huge market of synthetic/adulterated milk production. The adulterated milk market becomes active days ahead of any festival. Milk products from here are sold to nearby districts such as Mathura, Firozabad, Faridabad and Delhi.

Food Testing Labs to be set up in every districts

LUCKNOW: Taking a serious note of adulteration in food items, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed setting up of laboratories for testing food samples in every district of the state.

During the presentation of the food security department last night, the chief minister asked officials to launch a special drive to check anti-social elements indulging in food adulteration, a government spokesman said here today.

Expressing dissatisfaction over UP having only six labs to test some 18,000 food samples every year, the chief minister asked for setting up labs in all 75 districts in the state.

The chief minister also asked for mobile food testing labs to check milk samples and directed officials to create awareness among people in this regard besides encouraging food retailers to set up checking equipment in their shops, he added

WEST BENGAL

ER organises food safety training

Kolkata: Eastern Railway in collaboration with Food Safety & Standard Authority of India organised a food safety training where 16 Joint Food Safety Commissioners and 16 designated officers, mostly of railway medical officers participated from various Zones of Indian Railways and Workshops.
The orientation of the training programme was concentrated on the duties and responsibilities of the designated officers of Indian Railways regarding Food Safety, Food Safety & Standard Act, procedure of sampling of food, surveillance, monitoring and risk allowance, adjudication, packaging & labeling and also understanding and documentation of regulatory compliance. (EOIC)
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