BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court directed the state government to take necessary steps to establish a proper laboratory in consultation with NABL, to ascertain the presence of samples as per food safety standards prescribed under the Food Safety and Standards Act, with proper and adequate staff.
Justice V Srishananda also directed the state government to endeavour to appoint Food Safety Officers in each taluk at the earliest, and that proper training be imparted to all Food and Safety Officers for effective implementation of the Act, in collection samples, preservation of samples and sending them to the laboratory, obtaining report and placing it before the Additional District Magistrate cum Adjudicating Authority at the earliest.
The court issued these guidelines while quashing criminal proceedings initiated in 2015 against Iqbal Syed Sab Dafedhar, a wholesale food products distributor, before the Adjudicating Authority by declaring the sample of noodles of a reputed company he distributed was misbranded, without there being proper laboratory facility to fisnd out the presence of lead and flavour enhancers -- Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG).
Noting that it cannot turn a blind eye in arresting the menace of misbranded or substandard food items sold and consumed in society, the court said that the state has the onerous responsibility of ensuring the quality of food items that would be manufactured/imported to our country.
At present, as an ad hoc arrangement, a memorandum of understanding is entered into with a private laboratory by the department, to check samples. The court noted that acceptability of the report given by a private laboratory for the purpose of adjudication is doubtful, and it is the bounden duty of the government to establish a laboratory and not outsource it.