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Health Min turns a blind eye to food safety

7,September, 2013

 

On one hand, the Government went overboard in pushing its Food Security Bill but on the other, the Health Ministry has turned a blind eye to safety of food – if one goes by the composition of the 15-member Food Authority , the highest decision making body of the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI).

A look at the profile of many members nominated in the Food Authority shows that major sectors related to fruits, vegetables, vegetable oil and farm output of food grains have been largely ignored. The large meat and bakery/ confectionery sector too has been ignored. Instead, a representative from the not so voluminous prawn industry, one Balasubramanium has been reappointed.

Moreover, despite Supreme Court’s strictures, the Ministry has appointed two members namely Gurudayal Tuteja and Lalitha Ramakrishna Gowda, who have conflict of interest. Gowda and Tuteja are already on the scientific panel of the FSSAI. As per rules, they cannot be appointed in two panels of the food regulator.

Also, the Ministry has nominated a member, Shreya Pandey, who is associated with a beverage MNC, as a representative of the All India Food Processors, as per the notification issued by the Ministry.

“The Supreme Court has in 2011 passed strictures to the Food regulator to reconstitute the scientific panel and have independent scientific persons and not individuals who have conflict of interest. But this time it has bent the rules while constituting the Food Authority,” said Santosh Kumar Mishra from Lok Jagriti, which has filed a case in High Court against the ‘mis-governance and mismanagement’ in the FSSAI.

Mishra said that Pandey has been nominated as an industry member despite her company not agreeing to the report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on carbonated drinks.  When asked, Joint Secretary (Health Ministry), AK Panda said, he would look into the matter.

The appointment of K Chandramouli as chairperson of the FSSAI is already under the scanner of the Supreme Court with a PIL alleging that he did not fulfill the eligibility criteria for the post as desired under Section 5 of the FSS Act.  The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Government in the matter.

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