Special drive to monitor food safety during festivals
Checks to ensure that norms on use of preservatives are adhered to
Baked items, especially cakes, prepared by several manufacturers for festivals such as Christmas are generally found to have a higher dose of preservatives. A special squad has been deputed to check the contents, as part of an ongoing campaign to ensure safe food, a senior FSSAI official told The Hindu on Wednesday.
Several manufacturers were penalised for violating the norms on use of preservatives during the previous Christmas season, the official said. The FSSAI wing in the State functions with one-third of the required strength of officers. The required strength is more than 150 officers in the State. The situation is expected to change in the coming months as the Public Service Commission recruitment process to fill vacancies is in progress. The recruitment is expected to be over in three months.
Apart from shortage of staff, inadequate number of laboratories also plagues the official machinery. Only three food testing laboratories are being used by the Authority in the State.
Flouting of food packaging norms by several small entities in the sector poses another challenge to the efforts for streamlining the food industry. All operators in food industry are required to register with the authority.
The exercise has been largely successful, but there are several operators yet to fall in line. Some of these manufacturers, mostly micro-units, are still selling items without the required information on packages.
Such items have a consumer base, which includes people without proper awareness on food safety regulations. The survival of the units selling unlicensed products could also be due to the clientele being satisfied with the taste of the food on offer.