Wednesday, April 27, 2011


"Shame" is a powerful emotional trauma many people find it hard to face, according to human psychologists and there are many instances when shame has driven affected people to even committing suicide. How ever percentage of people who are sensitive to shame is progressively declining and with political landscape in many countries becoming breeding grounds for corrupt and shameless political and business classes, the word shame may lose its relevance eventually. While we have instances like students and farmers committing suicide because of their inability to face humiliation due to examination performance or unbearable debt burden, there are shameless people who are not unduly concerned about criminal indictment, breaking of law, corruption scandals or moral turpitude. Therefore it is surprising as to how the Canadian food authorities have come to the conclusion that naming and shaming of food law violators would desist them from committing same crime again. One has to really see how this new system will be able to reduce the incidences of food safety violations in future.

"In a switch of policy, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency this week began publishing details of its law-enforcement activities on its website. While the federal agency used to publish the names of individuals and businesses that had been successfully prosecuted for breaching its rules, it now will name entities involved in CFIA investigations. The new policy kicked in on March 16 as part of what CFIA senior media relations officer Guy Gravelle termed an "ongoing transparency initiative." It has published this information for the months April 1 to Dec. 31, 2010. Gravelle explained that the rationale for the change in policy reflected the federal government's commitment "to providing consumers with information on enforcement action being taken to protect the safety of their food supply, and the animal and plant resource base upon which safe food depends." He said the agency "is committed to delivering on its mandate in an open and accountable way while continuing to work closely with the Canadian food industry to ensure they have clear guidance on how to achieve compliance."

Though Canadian government may be confident about the moral standards of their citizens based on which the new policy was evolved, it is doubtful whether such deterrent policies will ever work in a country like India where most politicians and bureaucrats are considered corrupt. Once the veneer of respectability is removed due to any incidence involving violation of societal norms, the tendency is to become more and more hardened culprits/criminals with practically no shame left. More over naming the culprits in the web site of the food safety agency may have exposure only to a few hundred people in a country with more than one billion population, the net effect being practically nil. Under such an environment strong penal action and cancelling the production license only will work as a deterrent, though here also a weak organization like FSSAI in India is not equipped to punish real criminals in the food sector who commit their food crimes with full impunity!


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