KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Friday directed the Food Safety Commissioner to allow the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Ltd to clean all the sealed stock of pepper, and to sent it to a laboratory notified by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
In the order, Justice A Muhammed Mustaque directed that the company should take the stock of pepper for testing as directed by the Commissioner.
The court passed the order on the petition filed by Suresh Nair, vice president (legal and compliance), NCDEX Ltd, challenging an order of the Food Safety Commissioner to destroy more than 6,800 Mt of pepper, which is allegedly adulterated.
The order issued by the Commissioner stated that the samples collected from the warehouses of the company in Ernakulam and Cherthala showed that the pepper was adulterated with mineral oil.
The Regulations of 2011 specified that black pepper should be free of even traces of mineral oil, which is carcinogenic.
Based on the report, the authorities decided to seal all the six godowns. It also directed that the 93 lots, which were found to be adulterated, should be destroyed immediately, following statutory proceedings, in consultation with the Spices Board. The Commissioner further asked the District Food Safety officer to conduct a detailed investigation into the matter to identify the source of the mineral oil, and to file a report at the earliest.
The petitioner submitted that even if the allegation of the pepper being adulterated were true, it could be removed by a process of steaming and that the Act provided for an opportunity to improve or remove the adulterant.
If the Commissioner destroy the pepper it will not only create scarcity of the product, but will also affect its price across the country.