THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the High Court mandating food safety certification for ‘aravana’ and ‘prasadam’ sold at Sabarimala, the pilgrimage season will be a real test for the food safety commissionerate.
According to authorities, the food safety officers from every district will be randomly appointed at Sabarimala to ensure round-the-clock services.
Commissioner of Food Safety T.V. Anupama told DC that Pathanamthitta district would be given top priority during the pilgrimage season. The commissionerate is planning to appoint special officers at Pampa, Sannidanam and Erumeli to ensure quality of food and ‘prasadam’ being served to the pilgrims.
The department will recruit three analysts in the lab to check the quality of jaggery coming from Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. “Around 40 lakh tonnes of jaggery is required every season and we have to be on our toes to check the samples from each truck arriving from other states.
Either day or night we must scrutinise the loads to ensure that there is no adulteration. It’s a tough task,” said a top official.
Two of the total six analysts will be appointed in the lab at the shrine to check the quality of ‘aravana’ and four analysts will scrutinise the raw materials being transported to the shrine for ‘prasadam’ preparation.
“Starting from November for a period of three months, the focus of the department will be on Pathanamthitta and Kottayam – where lakhs of Sabarimala pilgrims arrive,” said the official.
Sources say that the pilgrimage season will slow down the normal activities of the commissionerate as the full focus would be only on the two districts.
“We are carrying out intensive drives every month throughout the state and the coming months we will not be able to carry out the drives. Staff crunch is a severe issue and around 80 posts are vacant,” added the official.