Milk adulteration in TN – Govt. gears up Enforcement team

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FSSAI to take strict action against food adulteration

NEW DELHI: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is taking a stern view of any adulteration or lapse in hygiene in the food business. At a summit on Monday, its chief executive, Pawan Kumar Agarwal, said, “We will amend regulations to make it mandatory for food business operators to have at least one person trained in food safety.” 
FSSAI also launched a food safety training and certification programme (FoSTaC), which has 19 short courses — from basic to advanced and specialised courses for street food vendors, restaurants chefs, caterers, food business operators as well as the general public. 
The regulator unveiled a food smart consumer portal for registering grievances in order to strengthen its redressal system, along with releasing a guidance document for food handlers and regulatory staff. FSSAI has created safe and nutritious food mascots — Master and Miss Sehat —superheroes who spread awareness among children. 
FSSAI will soon come out with new regulations relating to labelling of packaged food products and incorporate the expert panel’s suggestions for reducing consumption of fat, sugar and salt. 
 

Adulteration of milk, bevarages rampant

AHMEDABAD:

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If you think you the ghee you bought at the store will bring you all kinds of health benefits, think again. With widespread adulteration, what you actually get may be a substandard product that does more harm than good. At least so says data from Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation(AMC)’s health department, according to which samples of around 40 different food products were declared either unsafe, misbranded or substandard.

Products commonly found to be adulterated include milk products such as ghee, paneer and mawa, along with spices, oil, beverages, juices, aam ras and others. Despite stringent laws against food adulteration, season after season the number of adulteration cases have only increased. Moreover, the data also indicates that the number of repeat offenders is not low.

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What is worse is that one can’t easily identify adulterated products from genuine ones. Adulteration cuts production costs and boosts profit margins. “Products are adulterated either by mixing them with cheaper substitutes, or old and expired products and even artificial colour or flavouring which may even be carcinogenic,” said Atul Soni, quality manager, public health laboratory, AMC.

Palmolein in ghee, synthetic dyes containing carcinogenic chemicals in chilli powder and sawdust in turmeric are some of common adulteratants. Another major issue is process hygiene not being maintained in manufacturing and packaging. Recently, some 16 manufacturers of ice candy, syrups, cold drinks and beverages came under the civic body’s scanner for this and suspicious samples were sent to the public health laboratory for testing.
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When civic authorities were asked about rampant adulteration of the same continuing year after year, they emphasized the need for stricter laws and reducing administrative delays. “If offending traders or manufacturing units are fined heavily and units are sealed till corrective action is taken, the situation may improve. Repeat offenders should be penalized heavily,” said Bhavin Solanki, in-charge medical officer – health, AMC.

Court No. 6 of AMC penalized close to 30 offenders from January to March this year, said sources. Some of them committed the offence, i.e. manufacturing/selling unsafe food products as long as 14 years ago, in 2003!

 

Food adulteration becoming epidemic

Food adulteration is slowly becoming an epidemic, affecting human lives at large. The usage of colours, chemicals, pesticides and additives are becoming an acceptable but dangerous practice in India.

“It is often done for monetary gain without realising its long-term and disastrous impact on the health and the future of the country, both economically and ecologically,” said Neha Gupta, chief nutritionist, N-lite Nutrition and Health Consultancy Pvt Ltd.

“Now food adulteration is no longer restricted to local produce, but has made its way into packaged products also. The presence of starch in paneer to make it thicker, hydrogenated oils and vanaspati in ghee to lend it its rich yellow colour and powdered bricks in chilli powder raise questions about the quality of food that we eat,” she added.

“Adulteration is dangerous as it degenerates the quality of food, making it sub-standard for human consumption. The most commonly adulterated spices include coriander, dried ginger powder, dried red chilli, cardamom, cumin powder, pickle powder, garam masala, curd chilli, chilli powder, fennel seeds, Kashmiri chilli powder, rasam powder and curry powder. They contain pesticides that exceed the permitted limits prescribed by the European Union (EU),” she said, delving into adulteration in spices.

“In India, it is the agricultural sector which uses the maximum amount of pesticides, which eventually get absorbed in the air and consecutively water and spirals as a vicious cycle growing multifold,” Gupta said.

“Even while there are food testing laboratories across the country, it is still important for consumers to able to analyse food articles for contaminants at home. This is where access to food and nutritional consultants, besides awareness programmes, will enable educating the masses on simple home tests of spices,” she added.  

“Thus, it becomes imperative that we buy and consume spices that are safe, as adulterated spices can have many adverse affects on health like nausea, vomiting and blurred vision,” Gupta said.

“Most often spices like turmeric powder, chilli powder and other powdered spices have a high percentage of residual pesticides in them. These spices can be easily mixed with food colouring, added starch, coloured sawdust or even brick powder, which cuts cost for the sellers,” she added.

Sharing the details of simple tests that can be conducted at home to identify the presence of adulteration in spices, Gupta said that in the case of turmeric powder, a commonly-used adulterant is the addition of lead chromate, which gives it a bright yellow tinge and is insoluble in water. “To detect the presence of lead chromate, it can be mixed with water and placed in a beaker. If adulterated, it will immediately leak colour,” she added.

“Similarly, in the case of chilli powder, the most commonly used adulterants include sawdust and brick powder. If one adds a teaspoon of chilli powder in a glass of water and swirls it, it will dispel a red swirl of colour if adulterated,” she added.

“Starch, food colours, dust and horse dung are some of the commonly-used adulterants in powdered spices and can lead to serious health complications. Immersing powdered spices in water will ensure that the adulterants float on the surface of the water, while the remaining spices will settle at the bottom of the water surface,” Gupta said.

“Indian food is incomplete without the addition of masala powders and spices, but with the menace of contamination of spices, it can become a health hazard if consumed daily,” she added.

“The best way to avoid consuming spices which are adulterated is to buy them from a trusted source that packages them after being checked by food regulatory boards and carry either an ISI mark or a Agmark stamp,” Gupta stated.

Adulteration in Mustard Oil

Cases of adulteration in food products including edible oil, have come to the notice of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The implementation and enforcement of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, Rules and Regulations thereunder primarily rests with the State/UT Governments. Regular surveillance, monitoring, inspection and random sampling of food products are undertaken by the officials of Food Safety Departments of the respective States/ UTs to check compliance with standards laid down under FSS Act and regulations thereunder. In cases, where food samples are found to be non-conforming, recourse is taken to penal provisions under Chapter IX of the FSS Act.

The FSSAI has developed a Surveillance Plan and shared the same with the State/ UT Governments to ensure safe and wholesome food for consumers. It is an indicative and suggestive Surveillance Plan, with adequate flexibility keeping in view the local conditions and environment. The States conduct surveillance of different food commodities and take legal action wherever there is an infringement of the law. 
The Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare), Sh Faggan Singh Kulaste stated this in a written reply in the Lok Sabha here today.

Law Commission suggests modifying IPC Section 272 on lines of FSS Act

While reviewing sections 272 and 273 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 to address the concern of the Supreme Court in matters relating to food adulteration, the Law Commission of India, in its 264th report, titled Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (Provisions dealing with Food Adulteration), recommended that the provisions contained in the two Sections be suitably modified on the lines of those of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

As criminal law and criminal procedure is in the Concurrent List, the 264th Report of the Law Commission has been circulated by the ministry of home affairs to the governments of all the states and the administrations of all the Union Territories (UTs) for their comments.

Data on deaths caused due to adulteration in food items is not maintained centrally by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

This was stated by Faggan Singh Kulaste, minister of state, health and family welfare, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.