Food Safety Enforcement News – India updates – July 23-2017


Plastic eggs, rice, sugar being sold? LS members raise concerns, govt says no specific case yet

New Delhi: Members in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday flagged concerns over reports that plastic eggs, rice and sugar are being sold in some parts of the country, to which the government said no specific case detected so far but states have been told to be alert.

The government said that the reports of plastic eggs had come to the notice of food safety regulator FSSAI. Also, the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) had alerted about plastic rice and sugar.

“Consequently, FSSAI has asked commissioners of food safety of all states/UTs to ensure that there is no production/distribution of fake/aritifical eggs,” Junior Agriculture Minister Sudarshan Bhagat in the Lower House responding to the query raised by Malla Reddy (TRS).












The Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) has also urged the state food commissioners to take strict enforcement action, he said in a written reply.
“However, no specific instance of presence of fake eggs in any parts of the country has been received,” he said, adding that the random sampling and testing of all types of food production is done by the FSSAI officials


Food safety officials raid Vijayawada candy unit, seize stocks

VIJAYAWADA: Food safety officials seized the stocks at Gokul Foods on the Kabela Road in the city after discovering during an inspection conducted on Tuesday that the confectionery factory is not adhering to quality norms.
Owned by S Purnachandra Rao, Gokul Foods manufactures a variety of sugar candies that are mostly consumed by children. The 200-litre drums of liquid glucose, the main ingredient used in the candies, was found without company labels showing the name of the manufacturer, date of manufacture or the ‘best before dates’. The owner just claimed that he had brought the drums from Hyderabad.
Another violation observed by the food safety officials is the mismatch between FSSAI licence numbers on the labels. They have printed different numbers on different labels.
Assistant controller of food safety N Poornachandra Rao said that efforts are being made to ascertain the genuineness of the licence of the confectionery unit. Labels on the food products under the brand name of Gokul Foods were with a fake FSSAI licence number, he disclosed.
Poornachandra Rao observed that the liquid glucose, if adulterated, can cause intestinal disorders in children which, in turn, leads to many other health complications. He said the very process of making candies at the unit is faulty as there is a mismatch between the ingredients used by the manufacturer and those printed on the product labels. For instance, the manufacturer claimed to have been using citric acid in the making of candies but there is no trace of it either on the label or on the factory premises.
“We have seized the stocks and served notices on Gokul Foods management. The samples are being sent to the lab for a detailed analysis. Legal action would be initiated on the confectionery factory based on the lab report,” said Poornachandra Rao.


Noida will not give nod for meat shops in slums

The Noida authority has written to the district magistrate to resolve the issue at their level
Meat sellers can only be issued licences if the shops are in areas where municipal services are provided
A group of meat sellers on Monday met Noida authority’s deputy chief executive officer (DCEO) Saumya Srivastava seeking his help in obtaining licences for meat shops in slum areas.
As per norms, the food safety and drug administration (FSDA) can issue a licence only if the applicant produces before them all required documents, including a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Noida authority.
However, the authority made it clear to the meat sellers that it will only issue NOC for a shop if it fulfils all requirements and is located on land where municipal services are provided.
“We can issue NOC to a shop if it is located in a sector or a village. We will not be able to issue NOC for a meat shop located in a slum because we do not provide municipal services there,” said the DCEO.
Following the meat sellers’ demand, the authority has written to the Gautam Budh Nagar district magistrate (DM) regarding the issue.
“I have written to the district administration and also spoken to the additional DM. We have requested them to deal with licence applications in slums at their own level on the basis of merits or demerits of the applications. The Noida authority will not issue NOCs, so the administration will exercise its powers and take a call as per law,” said Srivastava.
Among the norms set by the authority for an NOC, the shop will have to be located 100 metres from a place of worship, 50 metres from a residential area and have access to municipal facilities.
“We will issue NOC for five shops in a village if the population is less than 4,000 and 10 shops if the population is more than that. In urban areas, licence will be issued to a meat shop only if it was originally allotted for this purpose and is located in a commercial area,” said Raghunandan Singh Yadav, senior project engineer of the Noida authority.


J & K

Food Safety Commissioner

By not appointing the Food Safety Commissioner and leaving the department headless, the message that the Government intends to convey is that it does not attach much importance to the organization. It is ironic that on the one hand the Government pledges resources to the improvement of health facilities and on the other hand it is not willing to ensure safety of food that is meant for the consumption of the people. Actually, a case has been brought before the High Court questioning why the Food Safety Commissioner is not appointed. The Commission has other vacancies also to make up its manpower, but the court’s observation is that first the Commissioner should be appointed and other appointments will follow.
The essential component of Food Safety Commissioner is the existence of food testing laboratories. There are only two such laboratories in the State. However, these laboratories need to be accredited by National Accreditation Board of Laboratories (NABL) Government of India so that result of lifted samples is done here without referring the samples to referral laboratories outside the state. Besides, the two food testing laboratories one each in Jammu and Srinagar are lacking adequate manpower as well as equipment. Consequently accreditation of these laboratories cannot be possible unless these are brought up to the established standards in all respects.
What one gathers from the story is that the Government and particularly the Health Department have never shown seriousness about maintaining high standard of food which the people of the State are supposed to consume. It is intriguing that the State is soft-paddling with the matter instead of expediting it. It is not good governance that the court has to intervene on such administrative matters as can be handled by the administrative machinery itself easily but with a sense of urgency and responsibility. Hospital records show that the number of patients of malnutrition is fast increasing in the State. It is a clear warning that food quality has to be improved to save the people from various diseases emanating from malnutrition.

HC grants week’s time to appoint FSC

Asks authorities to upgrade food testing laboratories
Srinagar, July 17: The State High Court today directed Finance Department to clear proposal for the appointment of Food Safety Commissioner within a week.
The direction by the division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey followed submission by Commissioner Secretary Health Department, who was present in the court.
On being asked by the court why the appointment FSC has not been made, the Commissioner Secretary submitted that the proposal for creation of post has been sent to Finance Department and after approval, it would be placed before the state cabinet.
Subsequently, the court directed the Finance Department to conclude the exercise with one week. “Till the full time (FSC0 is made, Commissioner Secretary shall have the additional charge of the post,” the court said.
Last week, the court had pulled up government for not putting in place FSC and had directed commissioner secretary to be personally present before to inform it about the steps taken to appoint the FSC. 
The direction had followed perusal of a report by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), highlighting deficiencies in food testing laboratories, both at Srinagar and Jammu. 
Subsequently, the court directed the concerned authorities to upgrade the laboratories by NABL so that prosecution can be launched against the violators. 
Pertinently, as per the FSSAI report, both the laboratories are currently equipped with minor equipment, which are in working condition. These include electronic balance, muffle furnace, butyro-refractometer and tintometer etc.
“Both labs do not carry out any tests for contaminant such pesticide residues, heavy metals, veterinary drug residues, crop contaminants and naturally occurring toxic substances,” the report said.
Currently, the report said, both the labs neither have in place state-of-the -art equipment necessary for pesticide, heavy metals and drug residues etc nor competent and trained manpower to operate the equipment. A major limiting factor towards fulfilling the requirements of testing of food samples is the non-availability of sophisticated instruments, the report said.

Seven months since FSSAI advisory, Karnataka yet to ban newspaper food packaging

BENGALURU: Foods contaminated by newspaper ink raise serious health concerns since printing ink, besides containing chemical contaminants, may have pathogenic microorganisms. Kerala Food Safety Commissioner prohibited the use of newspapers for packing food last week. Karnataka is yet to wake up though.
This comes seven months after the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a circular to food safety commissioners of all states and union territories to initiate a campaign for creating awareness amongst all stakeholders to discourage the use of newspapers for packing, serving and storing of food items.
Dr Shivappa, Joint Director, Food Safety, said, “We had issued a circular to all designated officers to create awareness about this but are unable to find the circular. It hasn’t been uploaded on our website either.”
Kerala Food Safety Commissioner in his notification dated July 11 pointed out that wrapping food in printed paper would cause chemical and microbiological contamination of food. “This practice is equal to slow poisoning,” the order observes. The FSSAI in December last year had advised to ban newspaper packaging that can lead to cancer.
The order was issued as per Section 30(2)(a) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which enables the commissioner to prohibit in the interest of public health, the manufacture, storage, distribution or sale of any article of food, either in the whole of the state or any area, not exceeding one year.
Shivappa said that other alternatives available are ceramic plates, areca, steel plates, banana leaves and thick polythene paper. “Ceramic plates are not cost effective and steel plates need to be washed. Banana leaf is easily available and cost effective too. Plastic is banned so it cannot be used. Another alternative is recovering additional cost from customers,” he said.
Dr Harshvardan B, Deputy Commissioner (Squad), Food Safety, said that though designated officers in districts had been told to disallow wrapping of bajji and bonda in newspapers during monthly meetings no notification had been issued yet.
Unless a notification is issued, it is not legally binding, it will merely remain a circular, said K Srinivasa Gowda, Joint Commissioner, Food Safety. Karnataka Food Safety Commissioner Subodh Yadav said that a similar notification will be issued soon. 
What FSSAI says
“Indians are being slowly poisoned due to newspapers being widely used as food packaging material by small hotels, vendors and also in homes in lieu of absorbent paper. The ink contains multiple bioactive materials. Printing ink may also contain harmful colours, pigments, binders, additives, and preservatives. They may be contaminated with metallic contaminants, mineral oils and harmful chemicals like phthalates which can cause digestive problems and also lead to severe toxicity. Older people, teenagers, children and people with compromised vital organs and immune systems are at a greater risk of acquiring cancer-related health complications, if they are exposed to food packed in such material. Newspapers should not be used to wrap, cover and serve food or to absorb excess oil from fried food.”

Expired oil, green gram stock seized; report confirms sub-standard quality

Expired oil and green gram stocked at godowns for dispatching to PDS shops being seized in Kalaburagi on Tuesday. 
Flouting norms, the Food and Civil Supplies Department has stocked vegetable oil and green gram past the expiry dates for supplying to Public Distribution Shops in the district under the Anna Bhagya Scheme.
Speaking with The Hindu on Tuesday, District Food Safety Officer R.S. Biradar said that based on a complaint both the Department godowns on the outskirts of the city has been raided and the expired stocks were seized in the first week of July. The matter had been reported to the Deputy Commissioner Ujjwalkumar Ghosh. He directed the concerned authorities to immediately stop the distribution of expired stocks from last week.
Around 70,000 expired vegetable oil packets and around 525 kg of green grams with expired dates were seized. Mr. Biradar said the manufactured date mentioned on a few oil packets was December 2016 and on others it was February 2017, valid for four months from the date of packing.
Meanwhile, the Divisional Food Laboratory in its report had recorded the oil as sub-standard as the acid value of tested oil is 1.02%. As per the Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) the acid value should be less than 0.5%, Mr. Biradar added.
Similarly, the samples of green gram stocked in godowns were also recorded as sub-standard. The grains contain 6.97% weevilled grain and 1.86% foreign matter, and do not conform to the standards.
Vijayanand Diggikar, Assistant Director for Food and Civil Supplies, speaking to The Hindu over the phone said that though the products were expired and lab reports clearly confirmed the samples of vegetable oil and green gram were sub-standard, the samples would be sent to the Food Laboratory in Hyderabad for tests.
Based on the lab reports, senior officials would take a further decision.

375 cases registered under Food Safety Act

Ludhiana, July 20 In all, 375 cases of the violation of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 have been registered for selling food items not adhering to the required standards in the district. More than Rs 11 lakh have been collected as the fine money. This was stated by Deputy Commissioner Pardeep Aggarwal. 
He said 375 cases have been registered from January 1, 2011, to June 31, 2017. “Anybody sub-standard food will not be spared,” he said.The Jodhewal police have booked two persons on the charge of raping a girl. The accused have been identified as Varinder of Jonewal village and Baljit Kumar of the same locality.


Tobacco products being supplied from Karnataka

Prohibited tobacco products seized by FSSAI officials from a private bus from Bengaluru to Coimbatore on Thursday.
The banned items reach Coimbatore in private buses
Despite repeated crackdowns by various agencies, sale of banned tobacco products is yet to come under control in Coimbatore.
According to some of the sellers, demand for tobacco products from migrant population is increasing as against the demand from users here.
“Demand for gutkha from migrant workers has increased. Demand from users in the city has not seen an increase or fall,” says a seller from the city who did not want to be named.
But, recent seizures indicate a well-oiled supply chain network of prohibited tobacco products, mainly from Karnataka.
Banned items seized in the recent past by the Police Department, Railway Police and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) were mainly sourced from Karnataka. Wholesale dealers get the supply through private bus services from Karnataka to Coimbatore, most of them arriving here in the small hours.
“Private buses depend on parcels to generate revenue in off-seasons. Agents give fake declarations on the consignments that are neatly packed so that the smell of tobacco does not come out,” says a police officer.
Following reports of the gutkha scam linking top officials in the Police Department in Chennai, the City Police had conducted a day-long drive against banned tobacco products in Coimbatore recently.
However, supply of tobacco products is not affected as shown in the seizure of contraband worth around Rs. 1 lakh on Thursday. The banned items were seized from a private bus that arrived the city from Bengaluru in the early hours on Thursday.
“The bus was checked based on specific information. Banned tobacco products were found in 13 cartons that were parcelled to an agent named Ganapathy. We have lifted samples from the seized consignment for laboratory examination,” said O.L.S. Vijay, Desiganted Officer, FSSAI.
The agent was identified by FSSAI officials as he came to collect the parcel at Karumathampatti.
Mr. Vijay said that action would be taken against the agent based on the laboratory result.
The seized items would also be destroyed.

34 cases registered for selling banned tobacco products

Superintendent of Police R. Sivakumar has said that a total of 34 cases were registered against persons for selling banned tobacco items in the past six months in the district.
Addressing reporters here on Wednesday, he said the Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department along with the police department conducted raids and seized the products. As many as 19 cases were registered and two kg products were seized in 2013 while two cases were registered and 150 gram tobacco products were seized in 2014.
In 2015, 22 cases were registered and 1.5 kg products were seized while 138 cases were registered in 2016 and 21 kg were seized. In the past six months 34 cases were registered against sellers and 4.5 kg tobacco products were seized, he added.
An official from FSSAI checking water stored at a hotel in the city on Wednesday. 
FSSAI officials check whether storage of water is done in proper manner
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has swung into action to back the efforts by the Health Department to combat dengue.
FSSAI officials have started inspecting restaurants and small hotels to ensure that storage of water is done in proper manner.
Officials are also checking to ensure contaminated water is not used for cooking and drinking purposes.
“Based on directions from superiors, food safety officers are conducting inspections at hotels, mainly to ensure safe storage of water. Other than aiding mosquito breeding, contaminated water can cause for other illnesses,” said O.L.S. Vijay, Designated Officer, FSSAI, Coimbatore.
Hotels have been asked to not to store water for longer days as it may lead to contamination. During visits, hoteliers have been instructed to store the water in containers covering them with a fitting lid.
“Hoteliers have been asked to clean underground water storage tanks at frequent intervals. Use of bleaching powder is advised for cleaning. They are also instructed not to serve water stored for more than three days for drinking and cooking purposes,” said Dr. Vijay.
Food safety officers are also checking whether storage systems are turning breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
As part of increasing awareness among public, food safety officials are also pasting posters in hotels on safe storage of water and prevention of mosquito breeding.

Canned water under threat

Authorities accuse a few packaged water units of flouting norms to draw groundwater; manufacturers flag clearance certificates.

Though the Tamil Nadu packaged drinking water manufacturers have withdrawn their strike, authorities are said to be at loggerheads with them over depleting groundwater level, putting the availability of canned drinking water in question in the long run.
While the association members say that a total of 350 packaged drinking water manufacturing units operate in Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts, sources claim that around 200 illegal units are also run by people with political clout. However, V Murali, president of Greater Tamil Nadu Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers Association, told DTNext that all the units have obtained the environmental clearance apart from certificates from Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
“In such a condition, why should the concerned officials pressurise us to close the units. Lakhs of people rely on canned water not only in the city, but across the state. Is curbing the availablity of a life essential to save groundwater level justified?” he asks. While the officials claim that they have only instructed some units that overexploit groundwater and flout the norms to abide by, the association members accuse officials of being discriminatory and claim that they are being threatened to shut down the units without a valid reason.
According to Murali, manufacturers draw water of about 300 million litres a day from 350 units in Chennai region. “Though we have necessary licences from all the departments, sometimes the officials try to close down units for reasons best known to them,” he says. However, Shankar, Chief Engineer of Ground and Surface Water Resources Wing, justifies the department’s action.
“There are some norms, which the drinking water manufactureres do not conform to. We have been periodically instructing such units not to overexploit groundwater beyond prescribed levels and it is monitored through a water meter. But some companies flout the rules and we along with Revenue officials insist the manufacturers to close such units,” he elaborates. He also adds that the PWD is preparing to monitor the units in Chennai region and would ask the manufacturers without a licence not to tap water anymore. 
Shankar says the groundwater level can be maintained if such units located near lakes and rivers without licences are closed. R Kathiravan, Designated Officer, FSSAI, Chennai, says that there are 17 packaged water manufacturing units in the city alone. “We regularly monitor them and if we find the water to be unfit for consumption, we immediately ask the manufacturers to stop processing. After tapping the water, the manufacturers should do the purification process promptly. Some companies would not maintain the equipment properly and in such a scenario there is a possibility for water contamination. So, the manufacturers should be careful during the entire process of purification,” he says. 
Kathiravan adds that regular inspections are conducted to check potability of canned water.
7 to 10 lakh cans of water are supplied to Chennai households on a daily basis
Total number of units in Chennai region: 350
50% of drawn water goes waste in the purification
No of illegal unit: 200


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