Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Food testing laboratories-See who is speaking about them!

A recent statement by a deputy director general from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) about setting up food testing laboratories in the country raises more questions than the answer it provides to the much harried citizens of the country. It is well known that most consumers are.facing severe handicaps in wading through the "mess" that is called Indian food market where adulterated and substandard foods rule the roost. It is not clear in what way ICAR is connected with food standards implementation which is the prerogative of FSSAI which is under the administrative control of Ministry of Health. Added to this this deputy director general with the portfolio of engineering making such a statement is some what odd. If he is privy to the thinking of government of India and if his claims are true, it is indeed a welcome development. Read the report further below:

"Testing for the quality of food is set to become mandatory soon as the Union government is setting up 50 more food testing laboratories. An indication in this regard was given by Indian Council of Agricultural Research Deputy Director-General (Engineering) K. Alagasundaram on Tuesday. He told press persons on the sidelines of a workshop on post-harvest technology, organised jointly by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, and the ICAR here, that the Centre would set up 50 food testing laboratories in the next five years. Later, he told The Hindu that the Centre had funded 80 such laboratories across the country and about 40 of them had commenced operations. As per the funding policy, government institutions would get cent per cent monetary support if they want to set up such food testing laboratories while private companies would get 50 per cent funds, he said."

One of the points made by him relates to 100% funding to government institutions for setting up testing laboratories but it is not clear whether it refers to University institutions or any other type of institutions. 50% funding for private parties to set up such laboratories is also a welcome move but the moot question is who will go to these labs if their reports have no sanctity as far as the government is concerned as of now. The statement that testing is going to be mandatory is unclear as to how such a mandate will be enforced. In countries like USA testing certificates issued by accredited and monitored laboratories are legally accepted while in India no courts would accept such certificates. If the concerned ministry issues clarification on these issues, it would help a lot in removing the confusion because of the ICAR statement. 


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