Saturday, November 21, 2015

Bihar-Heaven for food adulterators and fraudsters?

Though Bihar has been hogging all the lime light lately for all wrong reasons, what is sad to hear is the pathetic infrastructure the state has for protecting the citizens from rampant adulteration of almost all foods sold in the market place. There are lakhs and lakhs of retailers and traders selling a diverse basket of foods that include essential materials like cereal, pulses and edible oils while milk vendors, thousands of them, selling milk at the door steps of many households. According to some studies the extent of adulteration in these essential food items can be as high as 50-60% with the hapless citizens there being taken for a ride with or without their knowledge. While many adulterants might be innocuous and considered economic offenses, there are many instances when food materials contain dangerous components, extraneous to the original food with the potential to cause serious health disorders. Unless there is constant vigilance and deterrent action the food criminals will have no fear of the law. How can any responsible government in a state like Bihar rest in peace when its citizens are exposed to dangerous adulterants in their day to day foods? Obviously this does not seem to be a priority area deserving attention at the hands of the current rulers in the state. Here is a take on this unfortunate state of affairs in that state vis-a-vis food safety. 

"ood safety is a matter of concern, thanks to a nationwide row over Maggi. Bihar's food safety wing has, however, only 14 officers to man its 38 districts.  In contrast, the food safety officers number 554 in Tamil Nadu, 273 in UP, 178 in Gujarat, 169 in Madhya Pradesh and 87 in Jammu & Kashmir, according to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) website. Bihar food safety commissioner Anand Kishor candidly admits this wing is understaffed. "But the health department has accepted a proposal to create 625 posts of food safety officers. The finance department will soon give its nod to it," he said."

Is it not ridiculous that the FSSAI vested with the responsibility of ensuring food safety in all states in the country is wasting its time and resources chasing the noodle manufacturers showing its "fangs" on imaginary safety issues while the common man who hardly consume any noodle is left to fend for himself? They are more concerned about punishing one noodle manufacturer than taking action to protect the poor people of Bihar! Otherwise how can any one explain the sordid state of food safety management that exists in that state where just 14 personnel are supposed to "look after" 38 districts through preventive and deterrent actions which only can keep the fraudsters on their toes? Even in a smaller state like Tamilnadu there are 20 times more personnel to carry out surveillance in the market than that in Bihar. Will the situation improve after the installation of the new "Lalubetaraj" there? Unlikely because the Rs 1000 crore animal feed scam is still fresh in the memory of every concerned India. 


No comments: