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Monitor food processing: HC

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Srinagar, July 10: The High Court today said that the authorities entrusted with the job of curbing the food adulteration are not conducting checking and raids to manufacturing of substandard food items and directed for monitoring the production of food items across the State.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rashid Ali Dar, hearing a Public Interest Litigation against the food adulteration, directed the State Government to take the efficient steps in order to prevent the adulterated food in markets.

After perusal of the latest report filed by the authorities, Court said the report does not show that the respondents have conducted random checks or raids with regard to manufacturing of food items of eatables.

Court directed for filing of an additional affidavit mentioning therein the steps taken by the officials to monitor production of different kinds of food items in the State. Court directed that such affidavit be filed within four weeks.

During the course of proceedings in the matter, the court has been informed that despite repeated orders, the authorities have failed on ground as such a lot has to be done by them to prevent the adulterated food from being sold to general public.

Court on perusal of its previous order said the latest report filed is not in tune with its directions. Court on previous hearing had directed the concerned authorities to constantly check the manufacturing of food items as also ensure complete ban of use of antibiotics in the poultries.

State counsel fairly submitted that the State is under an obligation to ensure the implementation of the provisions of Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 and further added that the State Government shall take all positive steps to ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Act.

Concerned Administrative Departments of the State Government were directed to ensure that the regular inspection of bakers shall be undertaken, and to take samples in order to check the ingredients used by them and not to allow them to sell pastry, cakes and loose biscuits without manufacturing and expiry date.

Categories: NEWS

Only 13% food adulterators convicted

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Chennai: Though Tamil Nadu stood second in the country in checking food samples and filing cases for adulteration, its follow-through in the crackdown is not as impressive. Less than 13% of the food adulterators in the state were convicted last year, despite an increase in complaints of food contamination from the public.

Of the 2,384 cases filed over food safety issues in 2018-19, only 300 ended in conviction, shows official data. It also shows that conviction rate for such cases has always been low in the state, except for in 2017-18, when major reforms were introduced by the food safety department.

Though Rs 5 crore was collected as fines from violators last year, consumer rights activists say the adulterators pay a paltry sum as fine individually.

Activist K Kathirmathiyon said though there are stringent provisions in the Food Safety and Standards Act, adulterations will continue unabated if violators are not punished. “A case is filed only after samples are found adulterated/ misbranded in labs. After that, if an official is unable to get the adulterator convicted, the official should be pulled up and asked to explain why the case didn’t end with conviction,” he said.

When contacted, Tamil Nadu food safety department officials said conviction rate depends largely on the number of samples collected and said they aren’t able to collect as many samples since more than 50% of technical posts are vacant.

A senior official attributed the spike in conviction rate in 2017-2018 to major reforms introduced then. Until 2017, the Food Business Operators (FBOs), field-level officers who collect samples from food outlets, collected only one sample per block. It was increased to nine per block last year.

The official, however, said the figures presented in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday were exaggerated since they are collecting as many samples as possible and a sudden decline in conviction rate was not possible. Data also suggests that many cases are still pending trial. While criminal cases (adulteration) are heard at the district and judicial magistrate (JM) courts, civil cases (misbranding/ mislabelling/ substandard quality) are inquired by the revenue department.

Categories: NEWS