Thursday, October 29, 2009


Food adulteration is a highly profitable 'business' in India since the culprits are confident of going scot-free without suffering any punishment under the prevailing lax consumer safety enforcement regime in the country. Though some of the deterrent provisions in the PFA are draconian in nature providing the needed teeth, it suffers from lack of biting power as manifested by poor infrastructure for implementation. The result is wide spread adulteration of practically every food that is traded in the market place. Even the so called bottled water at Rs12-15 a liter, is not safe because untreated water of indifferent quality is also sold along with genuine ones, in spite of the existing mandatory provision for ISI mark. Interestingly very few convictions take place in a vast country like India and even these cases take years for the court to take decisions.

Except for a few diligent journalists and some NGOs, no one seems to be too much concerned about this sorry state of affairs and consumers are in the vice like grip of this food mafia who seem to be a law unto themselves. Here is a sample case. "The revelation of large-scale anomalies at an edible oil wholesale store at Sham Nagar yesterday brings to the fore the illegal practices being adopted by some traders of food products in the city who are playing with the health of the residents by selling sub-standard quality food products found spurious and adulterated in many cases".

Such occurrences are too frequent and common across the country and the new food safety over lords in the FSSA of India excel only in platform proclamations with lot of platitudes, in stead of any meaningful ground level action. As long as the situation does not seriously compromise the health of the population, very little is going to be done, leaving the consumers to bear with the economic burden in the form of sub-standard foods. Unless there is a political will, as we have seen in China where the perpetrators of the melamine tainted milk tragedy were executed, adulterators will continue to have a field day playing with the lives of the hapless citizens of this country.


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