Friday, July 3, 2015

Product Approval Committee of FSSAI-Alice in the wonderland situation!

While cornering all the glory for making Nestle bend their knees before them, FSSAI seems to have forgotten that it has lot to answer to the Indian public for its shoddy and unscientific working system. This has been brought out by a PIL regarding the messy system that prevails in that organization with corruption and callousness being the rule rather than an exception as being alleged. Most shocking is the allegation that the so called "product approval committee" which is vested with the power to clear new labels and standards for new products is manned by non-technical personnel or bureaucrats who sit on judgment regarding the merits of each application. These babus seem to think that they are super food scientists capable of taking decisions on a number of products developed by the industry from time to time.  While Delhi high court has taken up the issue for consideration, the matter is so serious that it may be more appropriate if Supreme court intervenes now to bring about some sanity in the food safety regime in the country. Read below to understand the gravity of the situation and the sorry mess this country has slid down during the last 7 decades of independence

"The Delhi High Court has issued notices to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Ministry of Health on a public interest litigation seeking an enquiry into alleged corruption in the FSSAI and a review of discrepancies in the food product approval system.
The matter is now posted for hearing on September 30. The petition, filed on July 1 by Pradip Chakraborty, a former Director of Product Approval at the FSSAI, states that only 370 products have been standardised as per the Food Safety Law while the rest are sent by manufacturers to the regulator's Product Approval Committee for clearance. Chakraborty alleged in his petition that there were instances of malpractices, mismanagement, and "possible acts of corruption and embezzlement of funds" involving senior officials at FSSAI. The Product Approval Committee mainly comprises non-technical personnel, according to the petitioner. The committee reviews applications of food companies that want to market products. The Maggi noodles product was approved by this committee."

The case assumes further significance and seriousness when one realizes that the litigant is no less a person than a former employee of the organization handling product approval applications. Even assuming that court does not sit on judgment regarding the merits or otherwise of the PIL, citizens in the country cannot help feeling let down by the governments whom they have been electing every five years with monotonous regularity. Out of the three stake holders in the food scenario, industry and consumers are being put at the mercy of a government organization which appears to be in shambles causing serious apprehensions about the  very future of this country. If the litigant is to be believed this system seems to serve only corrupt bureaucrats and criminal food fraudsters who are having a free run in the country with no fear of law or repercussions arising out of their dark deeds in pursuit of easy money.


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