Conscious citizens walk food safety talk

LUCKNOW: From Vartika Singh of Miss India fame to madrasa student Rafia, people from all spheres of society walked for the cause of raising awareness towards importance of safe and hygienic food in the city, on Sunday. Organised by Confederation of Indian Industry in association with NASVI (National Association of Food Vendors of India) and consumer Body VOICE on Sunday, the WALKATHON was in alignment of Union Government’s Surakshit Khadya Abhiyaan.
Guest of honor Vartika Singh flagged off the event and moved youngsters to spread awareness on the issue. “Safe, healthy and hygienic food is a basic human right and we at our end should ensure the food we eat is clean and safe. Youngsters can apprise the vegetable and food vendors in their vicinity about measures for safe preparation and handling of raw as well as cooked food,” she said.
Raising consumers’ awareness about food safety the speakers emphasised on shared responsibility of farmers, food industry regulators and consumers. Speaking to over 2,000 students present for the walk they appealed to them to make their family, friends and relatives follow the basic practices of food safety like washing hands before eating, cleaning properly raw food before it is cooked and making efforts to keep surroundings of eateries near them clean.
Students from 40 schools and colleges of the city along with guests pledged to contribute towards safe food for all.
Around 150 students from madrassas and Muslim orphanages participated in the trek. Listening attentively to the speakers, 15-year-old Iqra said, “I will explain this to my mother once I reach home. We all know the importance of clean food but at times we are ignorant about practices like washing hands before eating and avoiding food from vendors not following hygiene. From today I will follow it religiously,” she said.


FSDA’s scheme to get your food item tested in Rs1,000 gets poor response

MEERUT: The Food Safety and Drugs Administration (FSDA) scheme by the state government that began in June this year is yet to gain traction in Meerut. As per the scheme, the laboratories are open to ordinary citizens – if someone is wary of a certain food item and wants it tested, he or she can submit a sample, pay Rs 1,000 and have it tested. So far, the scheme has got a poor response with only four takers from the city.
JP Singh, Chief Food Safety Officer, told TOI, “Only four items have been tested under this initiative – ghee, mustard oil, refine oil and namkeen. Out of these four samples, mustard oil was found substandard. Apart from mustard oil, all items were found up to the mark.”
“Rs 1,000 is not a huge amount for a middle class person and the people who are taking benefit from this initiative are basically manufacturers who purchase food items in bulk. If a shopkeeper makes besan ladoos, he can get besan and ghee checked in the lab, and in case of any irregularity, he wouldn’t face the wrath from the authorities,” added Singh.
He further stated that the food sample test report cannot be used for legal purposes; it is only for their personal use. If the city residents find that the report for a certain food item is negative, they will have to ask the local authorities to conduct a fresh testing of the samples from that shop—which will invite a lawsuit if found negative.
When asked about the reason behind the scheme’s poor response, Singh, said, “The government is not advertising it due to limited funds. Hence, most of the people are unaware about it.”
You can get these tested:
# Milk and milk products # Oil and vanaspati # Fruits and vegetables # Cereals # Pulses # Sweets and confectionary items # Sweetening agents # Salt and spices; items manufactured using them # Tea/Coffee # Pan masala # Cooked food # Proprietary food

FSSAI should follow international standard: Harsimrat Kaur Badal”

As the food processing minister I have to answer a lot of questions when I travel abroad and to ask them to invest in India.” 
India should open up vegetable and fruit retailing to foreign investors as this will help farmers get a better price while consumers will get cheaper rates, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said. She also said there was a fear psychosis and confusion in the industry after the controversy over Maggi noodles, the court order and the recent detection of impurities in packaged pasta in Uttar Pradesh. In an interview with ET’s Madhvi Sally and Himangshu Watts, Badal said that if companies are in the wrong, they should be punished, but if inspectors are blackmailing companies and damaging them, strong action should be taken against them. Excerpts:

What is the mood in the food processing industry after the Nestle issue?
Figures clearly show that they have received a huge setback which we can’t deny. The setback has been there in many ways besides what the Maggi issue did, even the courts declaring that FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) orders need not be followed anymore. So the industry is in a limbo. There is no clarity. So, of course, the industry is suffering and as per law, product approval is not required but as approval has been the norm for so many years, industry is not sure that if they go for it tomorrow what happens. So it much more important for FSSAI to create those protocols, transparent environment to what is needed and what is not.
You have an inside view of the government. Are things happening in that direction?
What I have been telling FSSAI is that we need to harmonise with international standard. So eventually we are looking at Make In India, it had to be in par with what is happening globally. So first step was that this product by product approval needs to be stopped, self-regulation needs to come in, transparent systems needs to be in place, so that a person producing knows what ingredient he can put in his product and the way it will be tested. FSSAI could go about monitoring the situation, rather than approving thousands of products which take a number of years to be on shelves. From 300 safety standards for food items put by FSSAI, they have now finalised 12,000 standards for food additives and ingredients, which are in harmony with Codex standard. Once this system is done, it eases the situation. It is a step in the right direction.
Another ministry says the class action consumer suit against Nestle will continue.
I can’t comment on what another ministry is doing. At the end of the day everyone is trying to safeguard the people of the country and ensure what they are eating is safe and healthy. I don’t know why they took this step. They must have their reason and I can’t comment on it.
Once the court’s order came, one thought the issue has been resolved.
As the food processing minister I have to answer a lot of questions when I travel abroad and to ask them to invest in India. Unfortunately, with Maggi being approved in so many countries and Nestle being such a worldwide company, throughout the world everyone heard about this Maggi episode. So it’s important for us to get our product approval system act together in place.
Again there are reports that some inspector in Uttar Pradesh has found lead in Maggi pasta.
When I said that the industry is under fear psychosis, it is for this reason also. Any inspector getting up anywhere and with the level of corruption at all levels, it’s worrisome. This was a sitting duck for anyone to walk into and say that I have found this and I will take it up and ban it (product). It happened in my state also. Luckily those people were able to get through to me as I could be approached. When we checked the issue, we found that someone (food inspector) was up to some mischief. That’s why it is important if what this guy finds that pasta is not ok, there should be a lab to do that test in a specified time, in the correct form and if the person has taken a wrong call, he should be held responsible for misleading and spoiling the name of the brand. It takes a lot of time to build up the brand and the name of the product. Someone come and chuck muck at you which is proved to be incorrect, you have lost your business. End of the day whether it was Maggi or anyone else, they did lose business, even when court declared all was ok. There has to be absolutely transparent system in place.

2 yrs on, food business operators wait for registration certificates

The health department is under scanner for receiving fees from hundreds of food business operators working in the rural areas of the district for mandatory registration under the Food Safety Act, but it failed to issue any registration certificate to them.
Operators were handed over receipts of depositing fees by health centres in their respective areas and were asked to show receipts if any health official visits their outlets for checking.
As the civil surgeon office was authorised to issue certificate to them but even after two years after depositing the money, operators are waiting for registration certificates.
Most business operators are shopkeepers, sweet manufacturers, bakery owners, flour mills owners belonging to Malsian, Shahkot, Lohian Bhogpur, Kala Bakra, Bara Pind and other adjoining areas, who had deposited `100 to `500 for registration between the period 2013 to February 2014.
As per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, it is mandatory to have a licence for food business operators with an annual turnover of above Rs 12 crore, while those earning less than this amount must get a registration certificate.
A payment receipt of food registration issued by the health department to a general store owner at Malsian village. (HT Photo)

The registration fee is Rs 100 for the single year and the licence fee is Rs 2,000, Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000 depending on the category of business.
HT went to Malsian, Shahkot and Kala Bakra areas and met food business operators who had submitted the requisite fees but yet to get certificate from the health department.
Sanjiv Kumar, proprietor of Laxmi General Store near Shahkot, said, “I had paid Rs 100 for one year registration on January 14, 2014 (a receipt shows) at the health centre but even after 23 months, no certificate was issued to me by the health department.”
Kumar told he used to inquire about the certificate from the health centre, but it gave only false claims of sending the certificate to him.
Joginder Pal, owner of Malli Sweet Shop in Malsian, told that he had deposited `200 at the health centre two years ago and also got a receipt of it, but he has not been issued any certificate by the health department yet.
When HT asked about the payment receipt, he said that it has been misplaced, but the department has not issued any official document.
“I had paid Rs 500 as registration fee for five years in 2013, but I have yet to get any registration document from the department,” Raj, owner of Pappu Bakery House, said.
Operators in other areas also complained of not receiving certificates even after paying fees.
HT also talked to several sanitary inspectors (SIs) in these areas, who were given the charge of asking food business operators for registration. Requesting anonymity, inspectors said that they had deposited the fees at the civil surgeon’s office at that time.
They added that they are helpless as they had themselves raised hue and cry with the senior officials but to no avail. They rued they are unable to tell about the status of their applications and fees.
Ramesh Kumar Hans, president, SIs association, said that his union is with operators and it would ensure them to get back their money.
Showing unawareness about this, civil surgeon Kailash Kapoor said it is a serious issue and if operators are not being issued registration certificates even after payment, the then district health officer (DHO) is responsible.
“I will call a meeting on this issue on Monday,” civil surgeon said, adding that operators should have also followed up their claims.
Food safety commissioner Hussan Lal said that the department would look into whole incident and he would ensure that those who have deposited fees, get registration certificates soon.

மேகி நூடுல்சை தொடர்ந்து பாஸ்ட்டாவுக்கும் வருகிறது சிக்கல்


மேகி நூடுல்சை தொடர்ந்து நெஸ்லே நிறுவனத்தின் பாஸ்ட்டா உணவு வகையும் பாதுகாப்பற்றது என சோதனையில் உறுதி செய்யப்பட்டுள்ளது. இதனால் பாஸ்ட்டா விற்பனைக்கும் விரைவில் தடை விதிக்கப்பட வாய்ப்பு இருப்பதாக கூறப்படுகிறது. நெஸ்லே நிறுவனத்தின் மேகி நூடில்சில் நிர்ணயித்த அளவை விட காரீயத்தின் அளவு அதிகமாக இருப்பதாக எழுந்த சர்ச்சையை தொடர்ந்து பல மாநிலங்களிலும் மேகி நூடுல்ஸ் விற்பனைக்கு தடை விதிக்கப்பட்டது. நீண்ட போராட்டத்திற்கு பிறகு நெஸ்லே நிறுவனம் சமீபத்தில் மேகி நூடுல்ஸ் விற்பனையை மீண்டும் தொடங்கியது. இந்நிலையில், உத்திர பிரதேசத்தில் நெஸ்லே நிறுவனத்தின் விற்பனையாளர்களிடம் ஜூன் 10ம் தேதி பாஸ்ட்டா மாதிரிகள் பெறப்பட்டது.

இந்த பாஸ்ட்டா மாதிரிகள் லக்னோவில் உள்ள அரசு ஆய்வுக்கூடத்தில் ஆய்வு செய்யப்பட்டது. பலகட்ட சோதனைக்கு பிறகு, நெஸ்லே நிறுவனத்தின் பாஸ்ட்டாவில் காரீயம் நிர்ணயிக்கப்பட்ட அளவை விட அதிகமாக இருப்பது தெரிய வந்தது. இது குறித்து உ.பி., உணவு கட்டுப்பாட்டு துறை அதிகாரி அரவிந்த் யாதவ் கூறுகையில், பொதுவாக காரீயம் சேர்க்கப்பட வேண்டிய அளவு 2.5 பிபிஎம்(பார்ட்ஸ் பெர் மில்லியன்). ஆனால், பாஸ்ட்டாவில் 6 பிபிஎம் இருந்தது சோதனையில் தெரியவந்தது. சோதனை அறிக்கை அடிப்படையில் மோடிநகரில் உள்ள நெஸ்லே நிறுவனத்திற்கு நோட்டீஸ் அனுப்பினோம். ஆனால், அது திரும்பி வந்து விட்டது என்றார்.

கோர்ட் மூலம் நடவடிக்கை

: சோதனை அறிக்கை விரைவில் கோர்ட்டில் தாக்கல் செய்யப்பட்டு, பாஸ்ட்டா விற்பனைக்கு தடை கோரப்பட உள்ளதாகவும் அதிகாரிகள் தெரிவித்துள்ளனர். சோதனை அறிக்கை அடிப்படையில் பாஸ்ட்டா, பாதுகாப்பற்ற உணவு பொருள் பட்டியலில் சேர்க்கப்பட்டுள்ளதாக கூறப்படுகிறது. இந்த புதிய குற்றச்சாட்டு குறித்து நெஸ்லே இந்தியா நிறுவனத்திடம் கேட்டதற்கு, பாஸ்ட்டா 100 சதவீதம் பாதுகாப்பானது. இந்த புதிய குழப்பத்தால் பாஸ்ட்டா தயாரிப்புக்களில் சரிபார்க்கும் பணி நடைபெற்று வருவதாக தெரிவித்தது. மேலும் இது தொடர்பாக தங்களுக்கு இதுவரை எந்த நோட்டீசும் வரவில்லை என்றும் நெஸ்லே கூறி உள்ளது.

State food lab says it has no idea about samples taken from KFC

                                        Four months after the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) lifted food samples from Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlets for tests at the State Food Laboratory (SFL), RTI activists are stumped by the conflicting versions being given by the two state bodies.
City-based RTI activist Bakka Judson sought the status of the KFC samples by filing two applications before GHMC’s food safety wing and SFL. But, both passed the buck on to each other.
When asked about the details of samples it tested from June 2014 to August 2015, the chief public analyst of Nacharam-based SFL said: “…the information regarding KFC is not available with the lab as it is not mentioned in the memorandum to food analyst.”
“This is surprising as the admission by SFL of not having any information on KFC only goes on to show that health of the people is not a priority for the GHMC’s food safety department. In other words, it only means that they did not receive the samples at all,” said Bakka Judson.
Under the memorandum to food analyst Form-VI, a food safe ty officer is required to fill details like code number, date and place of collection, name and nature of articles etc. before sending the same to the food analyst for testing.
However, what raises more eyebrows is the claim made by the GHMC’s food safety wing in another RTI reply dated November 13 (copy with TOI) that they sent 42 KFC samples as `surveillance samples for bacteriological analysis purpose and sent the same to the state food safety laboratory’.
In its reply, the superintendent of the GHMC’s health and sanitation department said that on June 26 and June 27, food safety officials of GHMC lifted 42 food samples from `various outlets of KFC in GHMC limits under the provisions of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and rules made thereunder for analysis purpose and sent the same to the state food laboratory’.
It may be recalled that soon after the samples were lifted, KFC. owned by Yum! Restaurants India Pvt. Ltd, obtained an interim stay order from the High Court on July 7 by filing a writ petition against commissioner of food safety , Telangana, following which the latter filed a petition to vacate the stay .The petition is yet to be heard.
When contacted, Dr T Damodar, one of the food safety officers (FSDOs) in GHMC’s health and sanitation department, said that he could not immediately respond without seeing the RTI replies furnished by the two state government bodies.

Maggi pasta unsafe, doubts UP lab

Foods maker Nestle has landed in trouble yet again with its pasta food samples. After tests being conducted at a food testing laboratory in Uttar Pradesh, the pasta was found to be carrying lead beyond the permissible limits.
An officer at the Food and Drug Administration, said that after Maggi, the sample of macroni pasta was taken from Mau and sent to the National Food Analysis Laboratory in Lucknow.
He said that the samples contained 6 PPM, which is much more than the permissible limit, that can’t exceed the standard limit of 2.5 parts per million (PPM).
Nestle India has said, it was not aware of any test done on its pasta brands. The company’s spokesperson said that they would need to see the contents of reports and confirm whether the tests were conducted at FSSAI Notified and NABL accredited laboratory that has the expertise and is certified for testing lead under the Food Safety and Standards Act. The spokesperson also said that Nestle’s products are safe for consumption.