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25% food samples fail quality test

The Tribune 2019-12-03 07:35:00
Incidence up 16% in 3 yrs; substandard items include sweets, spices, milk & liquor

With one in every four food samples failing the quality test in 2018-19 in Haryana, the percentage of samples not meeting the required standard jumped from 9.2% to 25.2% in the last three years, according to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

“Most of the failed samples are of sweets, cheese, spices, milk and liquor,” said DK Sharma, Joint Commissioner (Food), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Haryana.

The FDA department, which takes the samples, categorises them under three categories: substandard, misbranded and unsafe. For substandard and misbranded food items, civil prosecution is launched and the offence is compoundable. For unsafe food items, criminal proceedings are initiated as their consumption can harm health. The Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) prescribes imprisonment from six months to six years with a fine ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for unsafe food items. In case of the death of a consumer, the food business operator can even get life term with a fine of at least Rs 10 lakh.

According to the FSSAI, 2,033 food samples were analysed in 2016-17 in Haryana, and 188 (9.2%) were found adulterated or misbranded. The department initiated 18 criminal and 243 civil proceedings against food outlet owners. The financial year witnessed conviction in 14 cases while in 71 cases a penalty of Rs 29.82 lakh was imposed.

In 2017-18, 2,067 food samples were taken and 380 (18.4%) were found adulterated or misbranded; the rate was double than that of the previous year. As many as 33 criminal and 303 civil proceedings were launched. Eight cases ended in conviction while in 280 cases a penalty of Rs 31.12 lakh was imposed.

In 2018-19, 2,929 food samples were taken and 737 (25.2%) were found adulterated or misbranded. Out of 737 samples, 95 were unsafe, 459 substandard and 183 were misbranded. While civil proceedings were launched in 488 cases, criminal action was initiated in 47 cases. Just five cases ended in conviction while a penalty of Rs 51.16 lakh was imposed in 242 cases.

From April to October 2019, a total of 1,310 samples were taken and 252 (19.2%) were found adulterated or misbranded. According to Joint Commissioner (Food), 128 items were substandard, 84 were misbranded and 40 were found unsafe.

The FDA, Haryana, has two laboratories to check food samples, one at Chandigarh and another at Karnal.

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