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From milk to cereals: Food adulteration rampant but monitoring lax

Seized spurious milk powder and other material from a dairy unit. 
NEW DELHI: Utsav Madan, a West Delhi resident, bought a packet of Moong Dal from a departmental store. As he boiled it the water turned a deep yellow. The artificial colour on the lentils wore off.
Debashish, a Thane resident, bought a box of sweets from a restaurant. The restaurant was smelly. The sweets were sour and too old to eat.
Both Utsav and Debashish were victims of food adulteration. Across the country consumers have complained about the quality of the food they are buying. These include milk and dairy products, spices and cereals. But unlike the hue and cry that breaks out when questions are asked on the quality of popular branded products, like ‘Maggi’ noodles in 2015, they rarely merit government attention.
Data from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has now shown that state administrations choose to overlook not only complaints, but also evidence, of impure food.
An analysis of the FSSAI data shows authorities have tested similar sample sizes of edibles (around 80,000 per year) from across India while the number of ‘samples found adulterated’ has constantly risen in the same period.
The food and grocery business as grown at the same time, as has the size of the population. Food safety officers in the states are required to take food samples and send them for analysis in laboratories.
A total of 84,537 adulterated food samples were collected from all the states in the year 2014-15; in 2015-16, 77,941 samples were collected and in 2016-17 the number was 80,463.
In contrast, the number of adulterated food samples rose from 14,716 in the year 2014-15 to 16,133 in 2015-16 and to 16,659 in the year 2016-17.
“There are many issues. The departments in most states are short-staffed. There are only about 30-40 or 50 food inspectors in each state that is too little given the demand. There are thousands of dairies and groceries and restaurants in any big city,” said Naresh Kadyan, a consumer rights activist who has been campaigning for right quality of milk.
Advocate Umesh Sharma said the enforcement of law is poor. “We can’t rule out the nexus among the stakeholders. The issue is directly related to the public health and government should take some serious initiatives to implement the food safety rules,” he said.
Even for those found guilty punishment is a rarity. The number of convictions was only 1402 in the year 2014-15, 540 in 2015-16 and 1591 in 2016-17. In most cases the authorities impose fines.
In the year 2014-15, total fines collected was `11.28 crore, in 2015-16 it was `21.65 crore and in 2016-17 it was `15.90 crore.
“(Food adulteration) is a bailable offence and the accused have never got arrested. Basically, the food safety department is like a toothless tiger,” said Naresh Kadyan, the consumer activist.
The Law Commission has recommended that sections 272 and 273 of the Indian Penal Code be amended to make adulteration a serious crime.
Depending on the gravity of the offence, punishment could be up to life in prison. The panel, headed by former Supreme Court judge B S Chauhan, also wanted Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code to be amended so that courts can order compensation for victims. The law commission said the minimum punishment should start with six months in jail.
“To combat adulteration in food items like milk, spices, honey, water, oil and other such items FSSAI has released guidelines,” said an officer of the authority.
A senior official of the FSSAI said it is not only artificial colours and putrefaction that are considered to be impure food. Food that contains additives that exceed permissible limits also fail tests.
Officials said that while adulteration in food items becomes more rampant during festive season due to high demand, there were only a few such instances that have been in public focus in recent years. 
Despite this, even the limited samples tested in the last three years clearly show that more and more food is being made artificially unfit for consumption.
 

Get food items tested for adulteration, government will pay

The Centre has decided to invite members of the public to get any food item tested for unsafe ingredients after it emerged that not a single complaint has been filed with country’s top food regulator under a special Act introduced 11 years ago.
As per the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Act, if food purchased by a person is established as adulterated, the cost of getting it tested is reimbursed. “In a recent FSSAI audit by the CAG, it emerged that there has not been a single complaint received under the Act and therefore, we have decided to widely advertise the provision,” an official in the Union health ministry said.
“Any individual can get suspicious food products tested at FSSAI laboratories. But since it’s a time-consuming procedure, most people shy away from doing so,” he said. “The process costs between Rs 2,000 and 5,000, depending on the food product.” FSSAI sources said thousands of tests are done at its labs. “None of them are done on complaints by consumers. Public participation is must to enhance food safety standards,” an official said.

4 held for selling adulterated ghee

BENGALURU

The city police have arrested four people, including a wholesale dealer of KMF products, for allegedly selling adulterated ghee for the last two months in Adugodi and Kumara Park.
According to the police, Ayyappa Swamy, who has been identified as the prime accused, allegedly plotted this scam in order to make up for the money he lost in a betting during an IPL cricket match.
The police took up the investigation last month based on a complaint from KMF officials who found adulterated ghee being supplied from the milk parlour at Bengaluru Diary in Adugodi. Following complaints from consumers, a team of KMF quality control officials had identified 84 packets of adulterated ghee after tests in the lab.
Apart from Swamy, 30, from Tamil Nadu, who lived in J.J. Nagar in the city, the others arrested are Maruthi, 28, a resident of Malleswaram, Shivakumar, 29, who lives in Kumara Park West, and Sukumar, 67, a resident of Dharmapuri.
They adulterated the ghee by adding palm oil and vegetable oil.
Swamy reached out to Maruthi, an employee for a company that has a dealership for KMF products. The duo later took the help of the other two accused — Shivakumar and Sukumar — both of whom ran Nandini milk outlets to sell the adulterated product. Maruthi’s role was to provide plastic covers to pack the ghee.
Cases have been registered under IPC sections 272 (Adulteration of food or drink intended for sale), 273 (Sale of noxious food or drink), and 420 (cheating).

Food adulteration taking heavy toll on public health

Beware, your biriyani may have dog meat

Vellore residents, who get cheap biriyani and meat dishes from roadside eateries must be cautious about dog meat is being served as mutton, said sources.
Vellore: It may be recalled a photo of two persons with a skinned carcass of a dog in Ambur that was circulated on social media, resulted in a scare and led to slumping of biriyani sales in the area a fortnight ago.
Sources revealed that four persons each in Christianpet and Kudibala village across Andhra Pradesh border on the Chittoor highway routinely provided dog meat to shops on both sides of the border.
With mutton sold at Rs 500 a kg, small shops were using this as a way of earning quick money as four kg of dog meat was sold for Rs 100. Getting the animals is not a hard task, given the increasing number of stray dogs on Vellore roads, added sources.
When queried about this, a Food Safety and Standards Authority of India official Dr Venkatesh said that they had not received any such complains.
He also denied the reports as both police and FSSAI had thoroughly checked all slaughter houses in the district following the Whatsapp message.
 

Mini device to detect adulterated milk

Diwali 2017 : Beware! There is adulterated Khoya out there

 
Highlights
  • None of us can detect the adulterant in the khoya or mithai visually
  • Khoya may be adulterated with starch, blotting paper and fine flour
  • Iodine test on khoya is an age old way to find out adulteration
Indians are looking forward to celebrate Diwali which will fall on 19th October, 2017. The festival of lights is incomplete without the quintessential sweets and savouries and you may agree, we all are guilty of stuffing ourselves with these yummy delights. Now that festivity is on its peak, meeting and greeting friends and family becomes one of the important rituals during the week-long festival. Most of the sweets consumed during Diwali normally have khoya present in it. Khoya is made with milk thickened by cooking it over low heat for hours. It’s commonly used for making a wide variety of Indian sweets or mithai. However, nowadays, when the demand of khoya is on the rise, some vendors, in order to meet these demands, may indulge in adulterating the dairy product by using harmful chemicals.
If you are buying khoya from outside or buying a mithai made with khoya, there is a chance it is not safe for consumption. None of us can detect adulterant in the khoya or mithai visually as they are concealed carefully. The khoya may be adulterated with starch, blotting paper and fine flour. It can also contain urea, detergent or water in the milk that was used to make khoya.The khoya may be adulterated with starch, blotting paper and fine flour
Here are two time tested ways to find out if the khoya is adulterated or not.
According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), if one needs to find out the presence of starch in khoya, all you need to is to disperse a certain quantity of sample in hot water and treat it with simple iodine solution. If the colour of the khoya changes to blue, it will confirm the presence of starch in it. You can also use mawa testing kits that are available in the markets these days.
The next trick is simple and an old-age way to test if khoya is adulterated. All you need to do is to take some khoya in your hand before you buy and check for some tartness or rub a little on your palm. If it leaves your hand greasy and tastes slightly sweet, it is good to go.
Owing to some unscrupulous vendors, this may be a tricky time to eat khoya mithais from outside, so it is better to make sweets from scratch at home, at least you would know this way about the the quality of ingredients used.
Here’s the perfect way to make khoya at home–
All you need is full cream milk and a kadhai (wok). Bring the milk to a boil and let it simmer on low flame. Keep stirring. Milk will eventually thicken and start collecting into a solid mass. Voila, you’re done.
Keep your eyes wide open to the fake products being sold outside in the name of festivals. Eat healthy and enjoy the season!