Whither hygiene?:Fast food pushcarts on Sambamurthy Road in Vijayawada.
Only 3 FSOs in Krishna district, which has over 15,000 food-related businesses
Lodging a complaint with food safety officers against food adulteration or use of unsafe ingredients in food items isn’t an easy and quick solution to clamp down on unethical practices by food traders as it would take some months or even a year to prove the violation.
Dearth of food safety officers and adequate infrastructure such as laboratories has left food safety and public health at risk.
Monitoring the ever-growing food industry in the capital region has become a cause of concern for the citizens as well as authorities. Eateries are mushrooming in the city owing to public demand but there are only three Food Safety Officers to monitor thousands of licensed businesses, including food processing, transporting, storing, distributing, manufacturing and others across the district as per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
No legal mandate
The Act guaranteed the availability of safe food for all through monitoring the quality of food items, but there was no mandate on number of food safety officers required for a particular amount of population, said advocate and consumer rights activist Pavan Reddy. Also, it is responsibility of the FSOs to keep proper vigil on eateries and make frequent visits and collect samples to analyse the quality of the food. But even acting on a complaint had become a formidable task for the officers as they get stuck with court cases, laboratory visits and special raids often.
Gazetted Food Inspector T. Sekhar Reddy said that there were only three inspectors, one junior office assistant, a typist and two attenders for Krishna district. The same was the case with other districts.
For over a decade
There was no increase in the number of posts for more than a decade even as the population grew by several times in the urban areas. Officially, there are nearly 15,000 food related businesses in the district.
“It is time the government sanctioned additional posts in view of capital establishment in the region. At least 15 food inspectors are required in the capital region besides infrastructure and laboratories,” said an official. “In urban areas a food safety officer must be allotted for a populace of 50,000,” he added.
It may be recalled that a couple of days ago the Delhi High Court ordered the government to recruit sufficient food safety officers to put an end to adulteration of various food products in Delhi which was also facing dearth of officers.