Tuesday, August 17, 2010


It is amusing to hear the country's Health Minister making a pronouncement on food adulteration with a tall claim that food adulteration in India is "declining" based on some spooky statistics. What is not understandable is whether the Minister really believes in his statement or he is just presenting figures put before him by the babus in his ministry. Either way it is a cruel joke on the Indian consumer, especially in many smaller towns and semi-urban areas who know too well how dangerous the foods have become in the country. Those in bigger cities are fortunate as they are better placed to get relatively safer foods from many super markets that dot these places.

"The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 has so far stood the test of the times over the years since its enactment, says Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, as according to the latest available information provided by the states, the percentage of adulteration in food articles declined from 8.44 percent of the samples collected in 2006 to 7.73 percent in 2008. Samples of various foods including milk products, edible oil, vegetables, sweets and other food articles, are taken regularly by the food authorities of the states, and action is taken in case of complaints of adulterated food against the guilty under the provisions of PFA Act, 1954, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informs. According to the latest available information provided by the Indian states and Union Territory Governments, the details regarding number of cases registered and challaned has gone down from 7695 in 2006 to 3250 in 2008, and the number of cases convicted decreased from 1284 in 2006 to 549 in 2008. Several steps have been taken by the Government to check adulteration which includes lifting of samples by the food (health) authorities of states for testing, conducting raids at suspected places and taking action against such persons. The standards for various food articles have been revised and updated"

The gross negligence of food safety monitoring, entrusted to the state agencies is too well known to bear repetition and the archival infrastructure for food analysis in most of the cities makes it impossible even for a "honest" food inspector ( a rare breed to find), if he picks up samples from traders and retail shops for quality checking. It is a reflection on the total apathy on the part of the parliamentarians to allow the Minister to get away with such brazen "untruths". Probably the Minister needs to pay more attention to food safety and quality before accepting the "data" blindly!

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