About 40% of food items adulterated

RTI response finds adulteration rate very high

Chennai: About 40 per cent of food items tested by government labs in the state in 2013-14 were either adulterated or “misbranded”, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) statistics said. Interestingly, the rate of adulteration in Tamil Nadu is two times higher than that of the national average of 19 per cent, according to information availed from FSSAI through RTI by this newspaper.

Food samples tested range from commonly used items such as edible oil, masala powder, dals, salt, sugar and grains to ready-to-eat packed foods available in grocery shops as well as big departmental stores. As per FSSAI guidelines, food samples were collected from the markets and tested to find whether it met the set standards or not.

The rate of adulteration found in food samples tested in the state has gone up by four times from 8.43 per cent in 2011-12 to 39.66 per cent in 2013-14. A senior official of the food safety administration department attributed the high rate of adulteration or misbranded food items found in the state to lifting of more suspected samples from the market rather than taking random ones.

“We mostly take food samples based on complaints from people, officials or media reports. That is why the rate of adulteration in the food samples tested in our labs is high,” the official explained. According to sources in the FSA department, daily used items are normally adulterated. In edible oils, used cooked oil is mixed with fresh oil. Pepper powder packets sold in the markets are mostly adulterated with cornstarch with only five per cent pepper it, said sources.

Consumer activist and founder trustee of the Consumer Association of India R. Desikan said that he was not surprised by the large adulteration found in food samples tested in the state. He said that traders, hoteliers and manufacturers in the state are making every effort to prevent enforcement of the FSSAI Act by filing numerous cases against it in various courts. There are about 34 cases filed in various courts including the Madras high court against implementation of the Food Safety Act by traders and others.

( Source : dc )
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