VISAKHAPATNAM: A series of raids conducted by Food Safety and Vigilance officials at godowns and small-scale food processing units has brought to light the trend of adulterated, inferior quality food items, edible oil and artificially ripened fruits being supplied to the city markets on a large scale.
The shocking revelations that emerged during the raids puts to question how safe the provisions available in the city markets are.A few days ago, vigilance officials exposed a gang that has been supplying papayas ripened artificially using harmful chemical Ethephon for the last one and a half years. There is more to it. The officials also seized 4 tonnes of papayas stocked in a godown in Seethampeta to be supplied in city markets for Sankranti.
Preliminary probe revealed godown owners bought the fruit before it was ripe from farmers in Vizianagaram and used chemicals to ripen them in the godown.In September last year, food safety officials busted a gang trading adulterated tea powder. A person from Allipuram was caught with adulterated tea bags. The Allipuram gang used to procure used tea powder from roadside shops, dry and mix it with chemicals. After adulteration, the powder was again stuffed in new bags and supplied to the markets. The brand name the gang used was also found to be fake.
Furter, the vigilance officials also seized more than 2,000 litres of adulterated cooking oil and a tanker at HB Colony. The gang used to collect used edible oils and would mix them with fresh oil and sell it in various parts of the state and Telangana. Doctors say that consumption of the adulterated oil could lead to liver cancer and jaundice and many other diseases.
“The papaya gang was one of the biggest in recent times. Though the gang leader says he had done it to meet Sankranthi demand, as per our sources, he had been in the trade for the last one and a half years. Consumption of such fruits will definitely lead to intestinal and stomach problems,” says K Mallikarjuna Rao, vigilance & enforcement inspector.
According to sources, staff crunch in both food safety and vigilance department is forcing the officials to limit the number of raids even as the adulteration gangs sprout like mushrooms in the city. Though there is a steep rise in the number fast food joints, the food safety department seldom conducts surprise raids to check the quality. A number of fast food joints at Jagadamba Junction, Dabagardens, MVP Colony, Gajuwaka and Akkayyapalem are said to be using the cooking oil repeatedly to prepare food.