Food Safety Enforcement News – India updates – Jan 14-2018


States must use NHM funds for food safety: JP Nadda

Nadda is Union minister of health and family welfare
NEW DELHI: In a bid to strengthen food safety systems in each state such as laboratories and enforcement infrastructure, states should use funds from National Health Mission (NHM), said the Union minister of health and family welfare, JP Nadda during a meeting with state health ministers and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.
“Central Government is providing support to the tune of Rs 482 crore for the states. As many as 45 state labs are to be strengthened. I request the states to come forward with the proposals or give us the plan for strengthening the laboratories,” said Nadda adding that finance will not be a constraint and each state should have at least one government food laboratory of high quality. 
Food borne diseases impose a huge economic burden on India amounting to as much as 0.5% of India’s GDP or about $28 billion, according to researchers present at the meeting. 
All state health ministers, present during the meeting, agreed to the use of appropriate curriculum content on food and nutrition in schools to promote healthy eating habits and build awareness. States will also launch sustained campaigns in cities, districts and states under the banner of Safe and Nutritious Food (SNF) to develop city, district and state-wide ecosystems and declare them smart food state, city or district.


Telangana to have foolproof nutritious food system

The health authorities have decided to adopt a seven-point charter to address issues that have impeded food safety
Hyderabad: For the first time in Telangana, the State government is set to implement a broad framework aimed at putting in place a fool-proof mechanism for safe and nutritious food for all.
To this effect, the health authorities have decided to adopt a seven-point charter to address issues that have impeded food safety and put in place a robust food control system at the State-level.
Participating in a round table meeting of State Health Ministers in New Delhi organised by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Tuesday, Health Minister, Dr. C. Laxma Reddy said the State government is committed to improve food safety and very soon these measures will be grounded.
Recognising the need to improve infrastructure, the State government has decided to upgrade State Food Laboratories (SFL) by roping-in manpower and equipment and get certification from National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).
The SFL will become part of the Indian Food Laboratory Network (InFoLNet) to ensure seamless flow of information and in the process instil confidence among public and food business.
Among the many decisions, the authorities have also decided to tap into the available funds with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to upgrade the SFLs. The authorities will procure major lab equipment, set up microbiology laboratory and renovate infrastructure at a cost of Rs 10 crore.
In addition to all this, authorities will also utilise resources to start mobile food testing laboratories dubbed as ‘Food Safety on Wheels’ with a cost of nearly Rs. 40 lakh and an additional Rs. 5 lakh every year towards petrol and oil expenses.
The authorities have also decided to address the issue of micro-nutrient deficiency by adopting fortified staples like rice and flour with iron and iodine in mid-day meal scheme and in Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). In due course, activities like promoting organic food, launching campaign with focus on youngsters to adopt a healthy lifestyle.


Dietetics: Food safety norms not followed in state

PATNA: Bihar Dietetic Association (BDA) on Wednesday said people of the state were forced to consume substandard food as there was no regular inspection against adulteration in Bihar.
The association members alleged that the Combined Food and Drug Laboratory at Agamkuan in Patna to check food adulteration has been non-functional for the past many months. “Nobody checks if the norms for food safety are being followed by vendors or the companies that provide processed food in the state,” said association’s secretary Sudhakar Mishra. The samples from Bihar, he claimed, are sent to Kolkata for test.
Mishra requested the state government to get regular inspections conducted by the health department’s food safety wing to ensure that the companies with the licence to manufacture processed food were selling items as per standards fixed for them.
Talking to newsmen at a workshop conducted at Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH), he said, “People in India focus only on quantity and not on quality of the food they consume.”
The association, he said, wants to ensure that the food being consumed is checked for adulteration.
Sources in the food safety wing said there were only 14 food safety officers for 38 districts in the state. The official also said although the laboratory faced problems in the past as well, it had been functional for the past six months with regular inspections being carried out for adulteration. “The allegations are not true,” an official said.
Food safety inspector Mukesh Kashyap, when asked about routine inspections, said as per the norms followed by the food safety wing, every food safety officer collects 10 samples from different areas every month for routine inspection. “Inspections are also carried out extensively during festive seasons,” said Kashyap.

FDA warns Mumbai McDonald’s outlet over food hygiene

HardCastle Restaurants, which runs the McDonald’s franchise in Southern and Western states said they are looking into the matter seriously.
According to the Food Safety Standards Act, hotels and restaurants should see to it that the kitchen conditions, as well as the cleanliness and hygiene of the chefs should be of good standard. (Photo: PTI)
Mumbai: The state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned popular quick service restaurant McDonald’s as one of its outlets in the central region of the city has allegedly breached food safety standards. 
The FDA had reportedly conducted a “surprise check” on the McDonald’s outlet in High Street Phoenix at Lower Parel for alleged violation of the Food Safety Standards Act, by cooking in unhygienic conditions, and for not displaying its licence copy prominently. 
They subsequently sent a warning notice to the restaurant chain, saying if the conditions were not improved over the next 15 days stern action will be taken. 
HardCastle Restaurants, which runs the McDonald’s franchise in the Southern and Western states said they are looking into the matter seriously. 
“As a part of a routine investigation we have received some queries from the FDA. We have already submitted our response to the points raised,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. 
According to the Food Safety Standards Act, hotels and restaurants should see to it that the kitchen conditions, as well as the cleanliness and hygiene of the chefs should be of good standard.

2nd phase registration for food-related units starts in Tirupur district

TIRUPUR: The Food Safety and Drug Administration (FSDA) started its second phase of enrolment camps for food business operators (FBO) in the district on Tuesday at CM Unavagam in Palladam. The enrolment drive would end on January 12.
The FSDA asked FBOs to use e-services, which was launched on Monday, for registration and for getting licences.
Till now, 65% of the 18,585 FBOs in the district have either registered or submitted applications for the purpose. “With the first phase of special enrolment camps held last month, Tirupur FSDA was able to increase the percentage of enrolled entities from 46% to 65%. The state food commissioner has fixed January 15 as the deadline to achieve 100% registration,” said K Tamil Selvan, designated officer of Tirupur FSDA.
“For registration or to obtain licence, the FBOs could submit application at the common e-services centres (CSC) with the required documents and registration fees. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) started the online services for the purpose in Tamil Nadu on Monday,” said Tamil Selvan.
As per the FSSAI norms, the food selling entities, from hawker to business class hotels, should pay Rs 100 as an annual registration fee if it has a turnover under Rs 12 lakh and 2,000 if the turnover exceeds Rs 12 lakh.
In case of the food manufacturing units, the registration fee is Rs 3,000 if the total production is less than one tonne a day and Rs 5,000 for 1-2 tonnes a day.
Earlier, the FSSAI wanted the FSDA to get all FBOs registered or obtained licences before the last year. But around 50% of the entities across the state were yet to enrol.
The enrolment would help the department to keep a tab on the quality of foods produced and sold in the FBOs. So, the FSDA was carrying out door-to-door campaigns to create awareness. “If the FBOs fail to come forward for registration, we would serve them with legal notices,” Tamil Selvan added.

FSSAI introduces food hygiene rating for eateries

FSSAI has twisted rules to allow sale of unprocessed food

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has disregarded the warnings of its own scientists and broken its rules to do so.
By 2025, Indians are expected to eat processed food valued at Rs 72 lakh crore annually, while the revenues of the country’s processed food industry have been forecast to touch Rs 60 lakh crore. To keep growing, India’s food processing industry constantly introduces new flavours and products. Between 2012 and 2015, the food processing industry tried to introduce nearly 4,500 products with completely new formulations.
But, as this two-part series reports, the Indian food safety regime has failed to keep pace with the rapidly growing industry. The first part of the seriesdetails recent Comptroller and Auditor General’s findings on how the authorities allowed the sale of food proven to be dangerous.
In December 2013, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, which is responsible for ensuring that the food sold in the country is safe for consumers, granted permission to a company called Pushpam Foods and Beverages to sell an energy drink called Restless Ginseng.
Just under a year later, scientists at the food safety authority gave senior officials a piece of information that is well-recognised in the rest of the world: that caffeine and ginseng, the two key ingredients in Restless Ginseng, make for a dangerous cocktail that could increase heart rate and blood pressure.
It took the authority seven months to react. It was only in June 2015 that it withdrew the no-objection certificate given to the company to sell the product. For a year and a half, the company was able to manufacture and sell a harmful product. Despite the authority’s action, Pushpam Foods continues to promote the drink on its website. The food safety authority has evidently failed to check whether the product has been withdrawn from the market.
As the Comptroller and Auditor General of India pointed out in a recent report, had the authority followed its own guidelines framed in 2011, products such as Restless Ginseng would not have been put in the market in the first place.
The guidelines required food companies to provide scientific evidence that their product is safe. Only after the authority’s scientists were satisfied was the product to be allowed into the market.
Diluting guidelines
Restless Ginseng was not an exception. Starting from 2012, the authority has diluted its regulations, bypassed established protocols and ignored warning from its scientists to allow the sale of more than 800 processed foods with new formulations without assessing their safety. Some of these are still on the market.
The authority enabled this, the CAG noted, by diluting the 2011 guidelines to give temporary one-year no objection certificates to products even before its scientists had examined them.
The dilution goes against the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, mandating that only scientific panels can decide if a food product or food type is safe to consume.
The bureaucrats heading the authority can issue licences for food business operators to sell a product only after the scientists have approved it as safe.
Proprietary foods
Restless Ginseng is one of hundreds of products that are sold as proprietary or novel foods – new formulations of processed food products for which safety standards do not exist in the 2006 Food Safety and Standards Act that applies to all packaged foods. The 2011 guidelines were formulated to regulate such foods.
Among these foods that do not have pre-set safety standards under the law are energy drinks, salted snacks, noodles, soups and pasta. Also in this category are nutraceuticals – dietary supplements such as multivitamins that may improve health but do not treat a medical condition. Though such supplements might be sold by chemists, they are categorised as food, not medicine.
By 2020, the nutraceutical industry in India alone is expected to grow to Rs 26,000 crore, according to the Drug Marketing and Manufacturing Association.
CAG’s findings
When the CAG did a test audit of 50 proprietary food products approved for sale to consumers between 2012 and 2014, it found that even the diluted regulations were not followed.
In many cases, the authority did not send the product for scientific assessment even after giving it the temporary no-objection certificate. By April 2015, a note written by the authority’s chief executive in May 2015 shows, it had issued such certificates to over a thousand products but sent only 200 of them for testing.
In the case of at least four products, the authority continued to allow sale for up to 47 months after the scientists rejected them as unsafe.
For some products, the authority did not cancel the no-objection certificates in time. Sometimes when it did cancel the certificate, it allowed the sales licence for the product to stand.
The CAG highlighted the case of a company called Chemical International that had received a no-objection certificate to sell a mushroom-based nutraceutical in August 2012. A month later, the authority’s scientists asked for the product to be banned as the company had not submitted clinical data about its claimed health benefits. But the authority did not cancel the licence for the product.
In August 2013, the safety authority gave a company called Surya Herbal a licence to sell Sunova Spirulina tablet. But since the company did not provide scientific evidence of the tablet’s safety, the scientific panel cancelled the no objection certificate in August 2014. Yet, the company continued to carry the licence to sell the tablet till December 2017. It still promotes Spirulina tablets on its website, though it could not be ascertained if this is the same product that has been banned. The authority does not require companies to disclose such details on their websites.
Licence raj
In 27 of the 50 cases audited by the CAG, the authority’s product approval unit had recommended referring the items to its scientific panels for assessment. But this was not done. Instead, the authority issued no-objection certificates to all the products.
Restless Ginseng is probably not the only potentially harmful energy drink that the authority has allowed. The CAG said it was likely other companies besides Pushpam continue to sell drinks with the same dangerous concoction of ginseng and caffeine.
The authority has also granted the approvals arbitrarily. In January 2013, it allowed the Indian biotech company Biocon to market its nutraceutical tablet S-Adenosyl Methionine but denied permission to Sun Pharmaceutical Industries to sell the same product in August that year. Although Biocon’s product approval was withdrawn about a year later, the company continues to hold the licence to sell the nutraceutical till May 2020.
This arbitrary clearance system was struck down when challenged before the Bombay High Court and its decision was validated by the Supreme Court in 2015.
With the clearance regime banned by the courts, the sale of proprietary food products should have stopped until a new system was put in place. But, the CAG found, a month after the judgement of the Bombay High Court, the food safety authority issued “blanket instructions” to its licensing authorities to renew or continue all existing licences issued on the basis of the no-objection certificates it had already issued.
“Consequently, FSSAI permitted the indefinite manufacture, distribution, sale or import of possibly unsafe foods,” the CAG said. “FSSAI did not take any action after the final orders of the Supreme Court to withdraw these blanket instructions.”
Despite this, the food authority, and the Union health and family welfare ministry which oversees it, have been dismissive of the CAG’s report. The main thrust of their defence is that it is old news and a new set of regulations has been put in place starting 2016.
Pawan Kumar Agarwal, the chief executive officer of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, reiterated this to “Product approval [under the guidelines the courts have done away with] is a thing of the past,” he said. “Why don’t you write a forward-looking article? The CAG report is not based on facts.”
But the new regulations promise to be worse, shows an investigation by, which found new evidence that had escaped even the CAG. The details will be reported in the second part of this series.

Food Safety Enforcement News – India updates – Jan 7-2018


Centre asks state officials to crackdown on milk adulteration

The Centre has directed state food commissioners to crackdown on milk adulteration by installing testing equipments and taking random sampling every month at village levels. 
Union Ministers of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat recently held a meeting to discuss the issue of adulteration of milk and milk products with the state cooperative milk federations, National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), Food Safety and Standards Authority and state Food Safety Department representatives. 
“MOSs (Minister of States) advised the stakeholders to identify the unscrupulous agents who indulge in adulteration of milk as their business,” an official statement said. 
The secretary of Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries issued a direction to all chief secretaries and food commissioners of states to conduct 500 random sampling of milk every month at village level for detecting adulteration particularly of edible oil, sucrose and detergents. 
“This drive will be started immediately and 50,000 samples will be taken countrywide. FSAAI has been advised to follow up on this,” the statement said. 
States have been advised to install milk adulteration testing equipments at village level for detection of adulteration by various adulterants, it added. 
“Assistance for this will be provided by DADF under the National Programme for Dairy Development (NPDD). Rs 100 crores have been set apart for this,” the statement said. 
The government’s research body Indian Council of Agricultural Research was directed to enable quick testing methods for testing chemicals, which are not detected by the existing testing machines. 
Uttar Pradesh is being assisted to install 390 milk adulteration testing equipments in 2017-18 at village/District level. Other states are also being encouraged like Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu etc. 
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been directed to develop standards for honey testing as fructose adulteration malpractice is rampant. 
NDDB is setting up a National Honey Testing Laboratory for the purpose with the central government assistance.

Rs 60 L fine on 43 firms whose food samples failed lab test

Greater Noida, Jan 3 (PTI) Food safety officials today said a fine of about Rs 60 lakh has been imposed on more than 40 firms whose samples failed lab test.
Gautam Buddha Nagar food safety department designated officer Sanjay Sharma said the additional district magistrate has levied the fine of Rs 60 lakh on 43 firms whose food samples failed in lab tests.
The fine amount ranged between Rs 5,000 to Rs 3 lakh, he said.
The food samples that were taken included paneer, pizza, cooking oil, milk, pulses, spices and bottled water, he said.
J & K 

Workshop on food hygiene conducted for sweet shop owners

JAMMU, Jan 3: One day workshop on food hygiene was conducted for the members of Halwai Association of Jammu (sweet shop owners) by a team of food safety under the supervision of Controller, Drug and Food Control Organization here today.
On the occasion, the food safety team led by Dr Parvesh Kumar, Assistant Commissioner Food Safety Jammu and assisted by Ajay Khajuria, Daleep Singh, Jai Inder and Hans Raj, Food officers asked the participants to maintain the norms of Food Safety and Standards Act. Dr Parvesh Kumar asked them to wash hands before making any sweet item, keep watch over the raw material being supplied to them, prepare sweets apart from selling area, buy good quality khoya, sugar, milk, saffron, ghee, silver foil, keep good utensils properly stored and not to sell expired sweets. He requested them to use dustbin for waste materials, maintain personal hygiene and proper dress code. The participants were taught ways to maintain food quality and also informed about how this will help to boost their income by providing good quality food to the customers. The members of the Sweet Shop Association raised various issues including use of inferior material by some sweet shops, to which Dr Parvesh Kumar assured them that strict action will be taken against those indulging in use of inferior material and playing with the lives of the people.
He ascertained that medical certificate is mandatory for workers working in sweet shops and vendors. Dr Parvesh Kumar asked the participants to get their licences registered within two weeks and maintain norms as per Food Safety and Standards Act, otherwise action will be initiated against them.


FSSAI warns against sale of contaminated food

No standards have been prescribed so far under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 for creatine monohydrate.
Chennai: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has warned businesses and consumers against the sale and consumption of contaminated food after it received an alert from the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) about the alleged contamination of infant milk formula with Salmonella Agona.
As per the country’s apex food regulator (FSSAI) notice, there was no report of any import of the contaminated infant formula product to India, yet there could be a possibility of this product reaching the consumers through online sales or by other means. Hence, a notice has been issued to the public and various stakeholders, so that any inadvertent consumption of the infected products is avoided.
Meanwhile, it has come to the notice of the FSSAI that creatine monohydrate (used as a product or an ingredient) is being manufactured, imported and sold illegally by various companies and e-commerce platforms under different brand names with or without a valid FSSAI license number. No standards have been prescribed so far under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 for creatine monohydrate.
The regulator issued a letter mentioning the details of companies and sellers, including e-commerce sites to food safety commissioners of States and Union Territories (UTs) and authorised officers to keep a check on the sale of such products, by inspecting the premises of the firms and verify if any product having creatine monohydrate is being manufactured, stored or sold by firms.

Food Safety Enforcement News – India updates – Dec 31-2017


Food safety officials check 25 restaurants 

Vadodara: The food safety department of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) stepped up its drive to check restaurants on Friday. Officials checked 25 restaurants in different parts of the city.
The drive began on Thursday when the civic body officials checked 13 restaurants in different parts of the city. With the New Year eve festivities nearing, VMC has increased vigilance to ensure that quality and hygiene of food items are maintained. Thousands of people will flock to these restaurants on Sunday night to usher in 2018.
The restaurants checked on Friday included those n Fatehgunj, Sangam, Harni and Sayajigunj areas. Samples of prepared food as well as raw materials were collected from here even as 62kg of food items kept in unhygienic conditions were disposed of by the officials. The officials also issued notices to four restaurants.

15 eateries closed down

Violation of food safety standards detected
Officials of the Food Safety Commissionerate have shut down 15 eateries functioning close to the Secretariat and the legislators’ hostel on charges of violation of food safety standards.
Ten special squads conducted raids on 60 restaurants and found many establishments to have flouted basic hygiene standards that had been prescribed under the Food Safety and Standards Act.
The eateries that were found to have functioned without the requisite licence and also failed to ensure the quality norms included the Hotel Chirag Inn, Trivandrum Cafeteria, Hotel Casamia, Jithu Joji eatery and Deepa Hotel at Palayam, an eatery at Vanross Junction, and the Housing Board canteen.
Besides, the squads also found some other restaurants, including Hotel Aroma Classic at Vanross Junction, Gulan Fast Food at Palayam, Hotel Teekay International, Hotel Arul Jyothi at Statue, Hotel Zam Zam at Palayam, KeralaUniversity Library canteen, Kuttanad Restaurant (near AKG Centre) and another outlet that sold meals at Vanross Junction had maintained low standards of hygiene. These restaurants were ordered to be closed down with immediate effect. A total fine of ₹3,42,500 was also collected by the squads from 10 eateries for non-compliance with the prescribed norms.

Food Safety Enforcement News – India updates – Dec 30-2017

SRINAGAR: A video showing adulterated food being openly sold in Srinagar went viral on Facebook. In the video, a customer was seen showing a packet of parathas which was unfit for consumption. That video raised alarm among netizens who commented how the lack of checks on street food was endangering the lives of city residents.
However, even as the video created an uproar on social media, the practice of selling adulterated and unhygienic food has far from stopped.
In the congested Amira Kadal area, scores of makeshift stalls sell biryani, kebabs, fried fish, and snacks in the open.
At on one such stall, customers wait their turn to have fried fish while the vendor serves them without using gloves.
He also served food to another customer who eagerly had it without noticing that he was eating off an unhygienic plate, for the vendor had served him without cleaning his plate.
This unhygienic practice, according to Dr Rubeena, former health officer at Srinagar Municipal Corporation, has had an adverse impact on people’s health.
“We should firstly take care of personal hygiene, we should make people aware about proper food hygiene and ways of selling street food. This unhygienic food can cause food poisoning, which can lead to a person’s death. We can’t stop this selling of street food because it has became a part of our culture, but we should make these food vendors aware about the ill effects of this unhygienic food.”
A vendor Parvaiz Ahmad selling snacks at a stall near Lal Ded Hospital, however, denied that street food was poisonous.
“We use the best quality of ingredients such as P Mark flour and refined oil for snack preparation. We also use clean water,” he added.
Assistant Commissioner Food Safety, Srinagar, Hilal Mir told Kashmir Reader that they have acted against street vendors selling unhygienic food.
“We have filed 150 cases this year so far,” he said, citing an example of a vendor who was fined Rs 10,000 for using adulterated oil to prepare delicacies in Srinagar.
“We are appealing to these street vendors to cover all food items with a cloth or paper and not to reuse mustard oil,” he said.


Traders demand extension of FSSA deadline for licence

Trichy: The deadline of December 31, 2017 to apply for registration and license under Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) has irked the traders in Trichy, where the compliance of the food business operators (FBOs) to the Act was meagre.
Citing Trichy collector K Rajamani’s warning of action against the traders a couple of months ago, Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peramaippu expressed its displeasure over the deadline and demanded it be extended till March 31, 2018.
“Our association has been protesting against the FSSA act resulting in the postponement of implementation of the Act a few times. The committee formed to remove the unrealistic rules and regulations from the Act is yet to consider our demands. Yet, the deadline for coming under the purview of the Act is set to be over in few days. So, we demand the government to extend the deadline for three months,” said state general secretary of the association Ve Govindarajulu in a statement on Wednesday.
Out of the 20,000 FBOs including government run institutions like public distribution system, TASMAC that is to be covered under the Act, only 6,000 traders have turned up for registration and only 800 have applied for licenses according to their turnover.
Designated officer of food safety department in Trichy Dr R Senthilkumar said that the call on the demand for extension of the deadline can only be taken by the government. ” One thing FBOs should know is that the Act will give protection to their business if they come under the purview,” he added.

Crackdown on shops selling expired soft drinks

Food safety and drugs administration has cracked down on shops in and around Srirangam selling soft drinks which have passed its expiry date, ahead of Vaikunda Ekadesi festival.
Since the commencement of the inspection on December 18, food safety officers (FSOs) attached to the food safety department of Trichy found carbonated drinks beyond expiry date on display at shops. The officials let the vendors with a warning after seizing the drinks.
“We seized soft drinks from four to five shops and destroyed them. We will issue notices to such shops asking them to follow procedure. If they continue to violate, they will be slapped with cases,” said designated officer (DO) of food safety department Dr R Senthilkumar on Monday.
Besides Srirangam, the drive is being conducted at shops in the entry points such as Chathiram bus stand, No 1 toll gate, TVS toll gate and central bus stand to check if there was any sale of such items. The drive will be intensified from Tuesday and it will go on till December 29.
The officials asked the people to check the manufacturing date and expiry date before consuming such stuffs. The doctors warn of either mild or severe health complications as the consequence of consuming the any food items which crossed it expiry date.

Food Safety Enforcement News – India updates – Dec 24-2017


J & K

Food samples during Diwali raids show presence of carcinogens

Meerut: The results of some food samples, that were sent to the food testing laboratory in Lucknow and which arrived on Thursday, have revealed shocking amounts of carcinogenic chemicals and non-permitted food colours. The samples were sent by officials of the Food Safety and Drugs Administration (FSDA) after a raid at several sweet shops during Diwali. 
Sudan, a colouring dye that is prohibited under law, was used in food colour and Rhodamine B, a carcinogenic element, was used for making sweets at a local shop in Meerut. “As many as 102 food items were sent for testing. It was found that 31 items were substandard, one was misbranded, 11 violated regulations and eight were found unsafe for consumption,” said Archana Dheeran, designated officer, FSDA Meerut.
The laboratory reports of the eight unsafe items included a sweet sample that used Rhodamine B and which was taken from the shop of one Mohd Aslam in Kithore. Meanwhile, a sample of food colour taken from Bhagat Ji Sweets in Pallavpuram had Sudan II – a banned dye.
A laddoo manufacturing shop belonging to one Salman in Jamuna Nagar on Hapur road used the non-permitted Metanil yellow colour. Experts said that this colour is neurotoxic, which can damage the central and peripheral nervous system in human body, and hepatotoxic, which can cause liver damage.
Meanwhile, silver vark used in sweets taken from the shop of one Randhava in Meerut’s Mussourie area was found to be toxic aluminium.
“A case will be filed against all the sweet shops which flouted norms under the Food Safety and Standards Act and action will be taken against them,” said Dheeran.

Lab not yet set up to test food served to VVIPs at official functions

Srinagar: The official protocol to test the food served at government functions and public events to the incumbent President, Prime Minister, Governor, Chief Minister and Union Ministers, is not being followed in Jammu and Kashmir because the Health and Medical Education Department has failed to set up a Microbiology Lab to test food poisoning and other microbial contamination in food items.
“The Microbiology Lab sanctioned two years ago, as part of the Public Health Laboratory project of the Drug and Food Control Organisation, couldn’t be established due to inordinate delay by the Health and Medical Education Department in buying the necessary testing equipment and supporting infrastructure,” officials told Kashmir Reader.
A Food Safety Officer (FSO), wishing anonymity, said that such callous approach has left officers in a dilemma over what to do about VIP security. He said that in the absence of testing equipment, it is nearly impossible to test the safety of food served at public events.
Sources said that the food analysts are left helpless when they are assigned the job of testing food served to VVIPs. “We can’t test the food for adulteration or poisoning due to bacteria as per the official protocol. Lack of infrastructure and equipment make us vulnerable to grave mistakes,” confided a food analyst.
He said that the analysts who are assigned the job of testing food usually follow a medieval practice of the times of royal courts.
“Analysts and technicians follow an old practice that was prevalent in royal courts, where royal cooks would taste the cuisine themselves in front of the king before he eats it,” the official said.
The food testing is also hampered due to the defunct mobile testing vans of the Drug and Food Control Organisation (DFCO).
“There is no separate staff for the mobile testing vans, which make food testing even more difficult,” rued an administrator.
“The laboratory staff is forced to attend to VIP duty, despite the absence of equipment, which puts them in danger,” he said.
Speaking to Kashmir Reader, Suman Vikas, Assistant Professor at Department of Food Technology, Islamic University of Awantipora, said that a microbiology lab is vital for food safety and quality testing in a variety of food products, raw materials, and ingredients.
He said a simple microbiology lab with basic equipment would take Rs 8 lakh-10 lakh to start.
“The lab must have supporting infrastructure and basic equipment, like ovens for sterilisation, autoclave, incubators, refrigerators, colony counters, laminar flow chamber, microscopes, and computers,” Vikas said.
“It is not a big investment for the government. Many private food and spice companies in Kashmir have small labs. If they have it, why can’t the food department?” he said.
Controller, DFCO, Lotika Khajuria admitted that there has been a delay in setting up the microbiology lab. She, however, denied that any breach of security protocol occurs in her department.
“The police department usually calls us to send food analysts at functions attended by VVIPs. We are doing the best possible to make sure that the food is tested properly. If any of our officials are facing problems in their duty, he or she must give it in writing, so that we take up the issue with the quarters concerned. The issue may be taken up with the Food Safety and Standard Authority for necessary action,” she said.
According to her, the delay in the establishment of microbiology lab is due to the validation process. “We can’t start the lab right away because validation process takes time. We will start it soon because the funds have been sanctioned,” she said.


39 out of 297 food samples fail quality test

Pune: Of the 297 food samples drawn during Diwali and tested, 39 have fared poorly on various quality parameters at the state-run lab, the latest report of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has revealed.
FDA officials had drawn samples of 387 food items ahead of Diwali this year. “Of these, 297 samples have been analysed at the designated laboratory so far. After the testing, it was found that 39 samples did not conform to the quality standards set by the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI),” SS Desai, joint commissioner (food), FDA, Pune, told TOI.
Among the 39 samples found substandard (lacking in quality but safe for human consumption), the maximum were of milk and edible oil. “Milk samples found substandard lacked the amount of fat and solids-not-fat (SNF) as per the norms laid down by the law. While purity of edible oil was compromised by mixing oils of lesser quality,” Desai said, adding that excessive use of edible colour and milk powder affected the quality of milk products, sweets and farsaan.
“We have started taking action against the commercial establishments from where these ‘substandard’ samples were drawn,” Desai said, adding, “As per the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the FDA officials can only fine them for such offences. A case is filed against a supplier only when the sample is found unsafe for human consumption.”
Meanwhile, activists have questioned the state’s approach towards ensuring food safety. “The state health laboratory in Pune, which is a referral lab for testing food samples in the state, has been overburdened. Many key positions of the staff are lying vacant for years. The government should fill up these posts,” activist Sanjay Dabhade said.