VIJAYAWADA: At a time when the number of food adulteration cases in Krishna district, particularly in Vijayawada, is on the rise, proposals of setting up a full-fledged food testing laboratory show no signs of bearing fruit.
When adulteration cases are reported, the Food Safety Department collects samples and sends them to Hyderabad for testing.
Everything from milk to drinking water, fruits to edible oils and meat have been found to be adulterated in the district. Though there are several complaints against food safety authorities, only a few cases are being looked into seriously as there is a shortage of employees in the department.
More importantly, even after conducting raids, officials are unable to take action as a lot of time elapses before they get the results of the tests from Hyderabad. "It is a time consuming process. If we have our own food sample testing lab in the state, we can save a lot of time," a senior official of the Food Safety Department told TNIE.
According to information available with food safety officials, around 401 food samples from Krishna district were tested in 2017. Out of the total samples collected, 55 were found to be unsafe; nine were concluded to be substandard and 41 samples were rip offs of popular brands.
A whopping Rs 3 crore has been collected in the form of fines since 2014 in the district. Around 120 criminal cases were filed against hotels, sweet shops and confectionery manufacturing units in Krishna and 80 persons convicted.
''A proposal was sent to the state government seeking the establishment of a food safety laboratory in Amaravati on the lines of the one in Hyderabad. Around `50 crore is required to upgrade the existing food safety laboratory in Visakhapatnam with necessary infrastructure," said another food safety official on the condition of anonymity.
He added that the government should sanction enough funds for the department to purchase vehicles and improve other infrastructure at the district level and most importantly recruit more people.
*All talk no action
Rs 50 crore
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) officials submit proposal to govt requestion sanction of Rs 50 crore for enhancing regional laboratory in Visakhapatnam as temporary State Food Laboratory of AP. No headway yet
Proposal to set up facility in Amaravati still pending with finance department
Rs 20 crore sought for infrastructure development, machinery in laboratory
* It's all in the numbers
Samples from Krishna district tested
collected as fines since 2014 in district