NEW DELHI: As many as 1,590 individuals and companies have been convicted in the last one year for pushing dangerous dose of toxic chemicals in the food and fruits we eat daily. More than 10,600 prosecution cases have been launched for poisoning food chain either by injecting chemicals or by simply ignoring the norms, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) recently revealed to a Parliamentary Panel. The food safety body also informed the committee that it has collected Rs14.80 crore in penalty for violation of norms in complete range of food products including fruits, milk and packaged drinking water.
According to top sources, most of the fruits and ready to eat meals are exposed to toxic chemicals and the matter has been taken up by Parliament panel after reports that China-made toxic chemicals are being used to ripen fruits.
It is learnt that FSSAI top brass were questioned over action taken by them against the vendors, who are selling fruits ripened by Calcium Carbide as well as the reports about the sellers who were washing the ginger with acid to make it look more attractive in appearance.
It is understood that FSSAI officials disclosed that 60,671 samples were collected from across the country for further investigation. The probe had found 14,130 samples including fruits and vegetables were found to be unsatisfactory. The officials were also asked whether there is a need to amend the laws and rules under the relevant acts of Parliament like FSSAI Act, 2006.
“There are concerns that use of banned chemicals in food chain could be because of certain lacunae in the system and also due to lack of adequate enforcement and monitoring mechanism. The discussion also focused on the role of FSSAI in curbing such malpractices and whether remedial measures are being proposed to tackle this problem,” sources said.
According to FSSAI act, any person who sells to the purchaser’s any food which is not in compliance with the provisions of this Act, or of the nature or substance or quality demanded by the purchaser, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding `5 lakh. The Parliament panel on sub-ordinate legislation is also keen to know whether FSSAI can evolve some mechanism in collaboration with states so that the central body can carry out raids against unscrupulous elements. The act also provides for punishment starting from six months imprisonment to life term if it proven that unsafe food resulted in death of consumer.
What is FSSAI?
The FSSAI is the single reference point for all matters related to food safety in India. The responsibilities of FSSAI include -- laying down guidelines for accreditation of laboratories for food testing, providing scientific advice and technical support to the Centre, contributing to the development of international technical standards in food.