Mobile labs to check food at 2 checkposts in Kerala

The mobile labs will collect random samples from trucks arriving at the checkposts.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: State-of-the-art mobile testing laboratories will be stationed at Walayar and Amaravila, the two checkposts from where the bulk of food articles, milk products, vegetables and fruits arrive in Kerala from the neighbouring state.

The mobile labs will collect random samples from trucks arriving at the checkposts. “The labs will equip our officials to carry out checking and on-the-spot analysis of food,” said Mr Gokul, food safety commissioner.

The samples collected from various places are now being sent to the department’s three dedicated and sophisticated food testing laboratories in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode. The bulk of the samples of vegetables and fruits are being sent to the laboratory of Agricultural University, Vellayani, for examination.

During 2014-15, as many as 1,197 samples were collected and analysed by the Agricultural University, Vellayani centre. Of these, 26 per cent of samples had measureable concentrations of one or more pesticides while 7.9 per cent samples were identified with exceeding Maximum Residue Levels (MRL). The situation has not changed much since then.

With newer pesticides coming into the market frequently, it is difficult to get these tested in laboratories. By the time the results come, these pesticides would have already been replaced by new ones in the market. At the moment, the department is engaged in checking samples of atta, maida and curry powder. As many as 400 samples of these products have been taken from various parts of the state and these are being currently analysed in the laboratories.

Staff shortage: As per the criterion of one food safety officer for each Assembly segment, which is known as circle, the state should ideally have 140 officials. However, the department has just 40 food safety officers to check the contamination of food, vegetables, fruits, and food stuff available in the market.
On increasing the staff strength, the food safety commissioner said that steps were on to fill up the posts of food safety officers. “PSC recruitment is in the process and we hope to get the required staff by September end or October,” said Mr Gokul.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story