Unhygienic conditions prevail in Talab Khatinkan meat market

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Unhygienic conditions prevail in the meat market at Talab Khatinkan here and food safety authorities are not taking action against the erring shopkeepers.
There is no proper management in place and stray dogs roam in and around the market whole day.
The meat market in Talab Khatinkan is the biggest “halal” meat market in the city, but it has never been maintained properly. Hygiene is a thing of past in the market and people are being sold meat which doesn’t meet the basic parameters of hygiene.
“I used to buy meat from Talab Khatinkan market five years back, but after seeing the unhygienic conditions there, I stopped buying meat from the area. The district administration hasn’t taken any step to meet the basic requirement of hygiene in the area,” said Khurshid Ahmed, a resident of Gujjar Nagar.
Most of the restaurants in Jammu are buying meat from the area only and customers don’t know the condition of shops from where the meat is brought. The unhygienic conditions in the meat market pose the danger of food poisoning for hundreds of cunsumers.
The food safety wing of the drug and food control organisation of Jammu is not able to teach a lesson to these meat suppliers.
“Many a times we have penalised these shopkeepers, but they are not learning lessons. Elsewhere meat suppliers are maintaining hygienic conditions, but the problem lies in Talab Khatinkan only,” said Madan Magotra, designated officer, food safety wing.
He said they would surely take action against these shopkeepers soon.
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21 officers withdrawn from food safety wing

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The designated officers used to monitor and lead the inspections to check if food items were within the parameters of the Food Safety and Standards Act.
In a move that could affect food safety surveillance, the Department of Health and Family Welfare has relieved 21 senior medical officers from holding the posts of designated officers of the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) in the State and repatriated them to the department in respective districts.
The reason: shortage of doctors in the department.
The food safety officers had been asked to look after the affairs of the food safety wing until the posts of designed officers were filled. The department had been entrusted with the task of implementing FSSA in every district.
The decision, according to sources in the department, could slow down the food safety drives since the designated officer used to monitor and sometimes lead the inspections/raids to check if food items were within the parameters of FSSA. The absence of a “team leader” could have a bearing on spreading the importance of food safety.
According to the norms, the post of the FSSA designated officer should be held by a sub-divisional officer or a medical officer who has put in more than ten years in the department or a person with post-graduation in subjects such as chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry with the rank of a sub-divisional officer.
As the department could not get the officers of sub-divisional rank in the organisation, they appointed 21 senior medical officers doctors to the posts in the State, the sources said.
In some places, designated officers were looking after more than one district as the department could not fill all the designated officers’ posts when the Act came into existence.
Now, citing shortage of medical officers, the department has withdrawn the officers without replacing them.
Since January, the food safety wings in the State have been under the control of the food safety officers.
Sources said food safety officers do not have powers to proceed with certain legal matters but can conduct raids. The officers can renew the licences under FSSA but they do not have prosecuting powers in case of food adulteration. Also, they have no power to impose the penalty up to Rs. one lakh in case of food adulteration.
In Mysuru, extensive food safety drives have already taken a backseat following the shortage of food safety officers. As against the sanctioned post of 10 in the district, only three had been appointed.
Food samples for tests are collected based on complaints, suspicion, and random inspection.
It is mandatory to collect four food samples in case of complaints or suspicion. If food is found to be unsafe for consumption, a case is booked against the parties who are liable for punishment and a heavy penalty.
Since the Act came into existence about two years ago, 38 cases had been registered and two had been recommended for prosecution in Mysuru district.