Food Safety Enforcement News – India updates – July 09

GENERAL

FSSAI rejects National Anti-Doping Agency’s request to frame food supplement standards

Concerned about the burgeoning range of off-the-shelf food supplements and the possibility of at least some of them containing banned performance enhancing substances, NADA had recently approached the FSSAI with a request to frame standards for these supplements.
Concerned about the burgeoning range of off-the-shelf food supplements and the possibility of at least some of them containing banned performance enhancing substances, the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) had recently approached the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) with a request to frame standards for these supplements.
But after several meetings between the two, FSSAI declined the request, maintaining that given the nature of expertise and sports medicine knowledge required to do so is beyond their mandate. NADA officials approached FSSAI over concerns that mushrooming gyms not only in urban but also in rural areas were pushing some of these supplements and there is no control or monitoring over what they contain. Hence, FSSAI should frame standards.
Though FSSAI agreed in principle with the concerns expressed by NADA and a section of the authority was keen to go ahead with the exercise, in the end the authority decided not to. A senior official told The Indian Express that though the NADA’s concerns were genuine, there were several other hurdles that eventually made them decide against helping NADA.
“The concerns they raised were genuine. Food supplements that are sold over the counter and often pushed by gym instructors may contain performance enhancing substances banned for athletes or substances that are just generally harmful for people if used indiscriminately. There may even be prescription drugs that ordinarily cannot be bought over the counter but have an anabolic (body-building) effect on the body,” he said.
After much deliberation and several meetings with the NADA, FSSAI concluded that they couldn’t frame standards from NADA’s perspectives and yardsticks. It was beyond their mandate.
“We deliberated over the matter, had two-three meetings with NADA and decided that we cannot frame standards from the perspective they want us to. It is beyond our mandate — there is a long list of banned substances, some that are not to be used during competitions but can be used otherwise, others that can never be used,” the official said, “Then there is also the matter of dosage. So we told them that it is beyond our mandate,” he added.
Incidentally, FSSAI had, last year notified standards for health supplements, nutraceuticals, foods for special dietary use, food for special medical purpose, functional food and novel foods. “The articles of food with standard nutrient or nutritionally complete formulation shall consist of a composition delivering the desired level of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals, and other essential nutrients required for respective age group, gender and physiological stage in accordance with the guidelines made by the Indian Council of Medical Research,” reads the regulations stipulated by the FSSAI.
Ingredient purity is mandated to be in accordance with the FSSAI standards for those categories of food — in cases where standards are not specified, purity criteria generally accepted by the various pharmacopoeias — Indian Pharmacopoeia, Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of Indian Medicinal Plants, Indian Council of Medical Research, British Pharmacopoeia, US Pharmacopoeia etc are to be used.
KERALA

Fisheries department moots action plan to check quality

KANNUR: Faced with the threat of indiscriminate use of chemical preservatives, the fisheries department is planning to strengthen its vigil and use modern technologies to test fish consignments. Also, testing would be strengthened at checkposts to prevent the use of hazardous chemicals like sodium benzoate to preserve fish when it is brought from other states.
“As of now we don’t have a lab to single out chemicals used to preserve fish, a perishable item. We cannot withhold sales till the chemical analysis report is ready. This often becomes a hurdle and our task is left incomplete,” said an official with the department.
However, the scientists at the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) in Kochi are in the process of developing a handheld device to test chemical levels in fish. Once this device is made available, checking squads can take it to markets or checkposts to test consignment quality, he said.
Though there is an inspection team (comprising officials from the food safety and fisheries department) in every district, the plan is to strengthen its operations, said department officials.
If a consignment is found to be adulterated with toxic substances, sales can be stopped and if it is imported from other states, it would be sent back after taking samples for further testing. “We had conducted workshops at a few places, including Kozhikode, to gather inputs from officials, boat owners, fishermen and trade union leaders to formulate an action plan,” said Satheeshkumar, joint director, fisheries department.
According to officials, the problem before fishermen is that fish is brought directly to the harbour from other states. If there is a stringent measure to curb the sale of fish laced with toxic preservatives, this flooding can be regulated, thus giving better marketing opportunity to local fishermen.
Officials also said there was a plan to introduce permit system for auctioning fish so that middlemen influence can be restricted. The plan is to conduct auction through fishermen cooperative societies so that they would get better earnings.
The permits would be given to those people recommended by the cooperative societies, said officials, adding that proposal was being discussed.

Stale food seized from star hotels

 
Food items found stored in unhygienic conditions
An inspection team designated by the Director of Health Services seized stale food from five-star and three-star hotels in the city on Saturday.
Major discrepancies were found at Hotel Taj Gateway and Hotel Emerald, while minor offences were detected at Hotel Raviz, Big Bazaar, and MIMS Hospital canteen.
The Gateway and Emerald managements were issued summons, while fine was levied on the others under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COPTA).
The team led by Kozhikode Municipal Corporation health officer R.S. Gopakumar and District Legal Services Authority secretary R.L. Baiju seized 5 kg of cake mixture, 6 kg of ghee rice, and masala mixtures from the kitchen of Hotel Taj Gateway on P.T. Usha Road. Dr. Gopakumar said the cake mixture had fungal coating on it, and that ghee rice and masala were days old. The food items were kept in the refrigerator.
According to the inspection team, the hotels that were surveyed did not follow the rule that dates should be marked on food items while refrigerating them.
“Moreover, food was found stored in unhygienic conditions at Hotel Emerald. Meat and fish were kept together. Some hotels were fined for not keeping the statutory warning against smoking,” it said.
The team also consisted of District Medical Officer Asha Devi, veterinary surgeon Linoop, technical assistant K.T. Mohan, and corporation health inspector Abdul Khader.
Inspections will be conducted at hospitals, government and private offices, schools, and apartment complexes in the city in the coming days.
NAGALAND

Ban on gutkha, panmasala sale

 
Office of the chief medical officer (CMO) Dimapur has notified all the tobacco and panmasala dealers (wholesale or retail) in Dimapur district to immediately stop distribution and sale of gutkha or panmasala.
In a press release, chief medical officer Dimapur, Dr. K Vikato Kinimi, reminded that in compliance of the Supreme Court order dated September 23, 2016, the food safety commissioner, government of Nagaland had issued a notification dated May 16, 2017 prohibiting distribution and sale of gutkha or panmasala (containing tobacco or nicotine) and any other products marketed separately having nicotine or tobacco in the final products by whatever name called whether packaged or unpackaged or sold as one product or through packaged as separate products sold or distributed in such a manner so as to easily facilitate mixing by the consumers.
In view of this, the CMO Dimapur has informed all the tobacco and panmasala dealers (wholesale or retail) in Dimapur district to immediately adhere to this order.
CMO Dimapur cautioned that non-compliance of the notification would be an offence punishable under section 59 of Food Safety and Standards Act 2006.

Kohima Food Safety Officer asks people not to panic for fake eggs

Kohima,:  After the detection of suspected artificial eggs in the state, the Food Safety Officer (FSO) of Kohima Mr Kezha has appealed 
to public not to panic as there was no concrete evidence so far to suggest presence of artificial eggs. 
According to a statement by the FSO that following the complaint, KMC and food safety officials collected the egg sample from the shop and 
sent to a laboratory for test. He said the officials also collected samples from other egg dealers yesterday. 
Kezha also said some eggs suspected to be artificial were broken for inspection, but they were found to be natural eggs. He added that only 
laboratory tests results will determine whether the eggs are natural, artificial, deformed or partially rotten. 
TAMILNADU

1.5 tonnes of tobacco products seized

Coimbatore: Tirupur food safety officials seized 1.5 tonnes of tobacco products hidden at a house near Avinashi on Friday morning.
Based on a tip-off, Tirupur designated food safety officer Thamilselvan and team raided small and large tea shops, petty shops and bakeries in the area and warned them not to sell tobacco products.
Based on yet another tip-off, they also raided a house on P S Sundaram Street and found 1.5 tonnes of tobacco products valued at around Rs 5 lakh. The seized products included packets of hans, gutkha and tobacco leaves. Officials said they would continue to investigate the entry, distribution and sale of tobacco in the district, and crackdown on people involved in the trade.

Tobacco products destroyed

The Food Safety Department destroyed gutka and other products containing tobacco and nicotine seized from several shops in the city earlier this week.
During the raids supervised by the Designated Officer for Food Safety and Drug Administration Kalaivani, the banned products worth Rs. 3.5 lakh that were seized from shops were burnt.
The shop owners were warned that they would face action under the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006, if they were caught selling the banned products henceforth.
District Collector S. Prabakar said in a press release that the public could pass on information about surreptitious sale of the banned products to the office of Food Safety Department over phone: 0424-2223545.
The banned products include gutka, pan masala, zarda and tobacco-based flavoured mouth fresheners. The Central Government issued the ban order last December following a Supreme Court order dated September 23, 2016, banning chewing tobacco products.
According to the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on sales) Regulations, 2011, issued by the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products.
The order prohibiting manufacture, storage, distribution or sale of gutka and pan masala containing tobacco or nicotine, or any other product marketed separately containing tobacco or nicotine, was issued by the Central Government taking cognisance of the Global Audit Tobacco Survey — India (GATS) 2010, that mortality and morbidity due to consumption of smokeless tobacco was very high in India.
The survey stated that India shares the maximum burden of oral cancer in the world.

Godown sealed

In a joint raid conducted by the Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department and the corporation, officials found Rs. 5.70 lakh banned pan masala items stocked in godown in Shevapet here. Recently, the police arrested a gang that was involved in intercepting a lorry carrying pan masala and gutka items. 
Though four persons were arrested, the goods cannot be recovered. It is said that the goods were stocked in a godown in Shevapet. Officials raided the godown and found the banned items. Samples were taken and sent for laboratory tests in Chennai. The godown was sealed by the officials. 

Check adulteration of sago: farmers

Sago unit owners should be included in vigilance committees
A plea to the district administration to take effective steps for checking adulteration in sago manufacturing process was made at the farmers grievances redress day meeting held here on Friday.
M. Asia Mariam, District Collector, presided over the meeting.
K. Sundaram, general secretary of the Tamilaga Vivasayigal Sangam raised this issue and alleged that makka cholam flour is used in the preparation of sago. The government should take effective steps to check this adulteration by setting up vigilance committees in the district.
The farmers representatives and sago unit owners too should be included in the vigilance committees. He also pleaded for awareness meetings to check this illegal practice.
Mr. Sundaram said that the government should issue a GO that sago should be prepared only after peeling the skin from tapioca root. The officials of the Food Safety and Drug Administration Department should conduct surprise checks regularly in these mills and initiate stringent action against the erring mills.
The farmers representatives also pleaded for a survey for identifying the organic farmers in the district and impart specialised training to them, besides extending adequate subsidy linked financial assistance.
Such an initiative will go a long in promoting the interest of organic farmers and also in maintaining sustainability, enhancement of soil fertility and biological diversity and in prohibiting synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, and antibiotics.
Some farmers took exception to the presence of a sand quarry in River Cauvery bed near Mohanur, despite the stiff opposition by the local people and farming community.
The continuance of the quarry will badly affect the farm operation and drinking water sources.
The farmers and other sections of the society have already organised various agitations to express their opposition to this quarry. The government should at once close this quarry, they added.
There is still confusion on the issue of getting permission for the lifting of silt free of cost from the dry beds of water bodies in the district. The farmers are still not aware on whom to approach for submitting their applications and getting permission. They also sought clarification from the authorities whether the farmers were entitled to lift the silt only from their respective villages.
Ms. Asia Mariam said that farmers should submit their application for lifting to the tahsildar through the VAO. The concerned tahsildar will take decision based on prevailing circumstances on according permission for the lifting of silt in the water bodies of other villages.
The animal husbandry department is providing fodder at subsidised rate to all the farmers who have registered for the same. The district is expected about 100 tonnes of dry fodder soon, the Collector added.

Gutka and tobacco products worth Rs 3.70 lakh seized in Erode

Erode Nearly Rs 3.70 lakh worth of banned gutka and tobacco products were seized during raids conducted here.
In a press communication, Food Safety and Standard Authority of India today said, a team of officials carried out surprise raids in shops in Kongalamman Koil street and surrounding areas and confiscated Rs 3.70 lakh worth of banned tobacco and gutka products.
All the seized items were taken to Erode Municipal Corporation garbage yard and destroyed, it said.
The shop keepers who were in possession of the same were warned.
No cases were registered, it added.
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