Image Source: Restaurent India
Aug 20, 2018
Many a food samples in India have failed the quality test over the past two years, as nearly 90 per cent food testing labs were revealed as unaccredited and food operators were found to be either unregistered or running labs on expired licenses.
These pejorative observations by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, which in its latest report has recommended restructuring of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), should be headed by a food scientist rather than a bureaucrat.
The report, “The Functioning of FSSAI”, red-flags food safety lapses, saying people’s fundamental right to pure food was being compromised.
“Existing food laws and policies are inadequate and weakly enforced. This poor implementation has resulted in rampant food adulteration and various food scandals. Substandard quality food has been reaching the market and causing irreparable damage to public health,” notes the panel.
Major concerns documented include the presence of unregistered food business operators (FBOs) and FBOs operating with expired licences, lack of accreditation of food-testing labs and high levels of food adulteration coupled with low conviction rates under the FSS Act.
“The Food Licensing and Registration System (FLRS) should be updated regularly,” the committee said. It listed audit findings on instances of expired licenses and registrations under the FSSAI Act in nine states and six Central offices of FSSAI.
“Of 7,056 licenses test-checked in states, 2,616 (37.07 per cent), and out of 2,863 licenses test-checked in CLAs, 626 (21.87 per cent) were expired. Out of 2,299 registrations test-checked in states, 698 (30.36 per cent) were expired,” reveals the report.
On food quality, the committee expressed anguish over low conviction rates, noting that one in four food samples failed the quality test in 2016 and 2017.
Even more shocking was the revelation that 65 out of the 72 (90 per cent) state food labs to which FSSAI and state food safety authorities were sending food samples for testing didn’t have the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories accreditation.