THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Over three tonnes of unsafe nutritional supplement and 444kg of Bengal gram were supplied through certain anganwadis in Kerala because of the lapses of the food safety department, according to the CAG’s compliance audit report for the year ended March 2021. The children would not have consumed unsafe food had the department acted in time.
According to the report, the FSSAI had directed all states to collect three to five surveillance samples per day from anganwadis from September 9 to 15, 2020. In Kerala, samples were collected only in seven of the 13 circles. Of these, food samples collected from four circles were unsafe. They included unsafe samples of Amrutham Nutrimix collected from anganwadis in Thiruvananthapurm, Kasaragod and Vaikom and Bengal gram from Kazhakoottam.
The audit report observed that food safety officers in six circles, which were test-checked, did not even comply with the direction of the FSSAI to collect three-five samples per day. “In three circles where the surveillance samples were found unsafe, there was a delay of four to eight months in taking enforcement samples from manufacturing units and one circle did not even take enforcement samples. Due to the delay in timely action by the food safety officers, the entire batch of unsafe food was distributed among the children,” the report said.
Not initiating secondary action such as seizure, recall etc after finding Nutrimix as non-conforming to food safety standards resulted in the distribution or consumption of unsafe food by children in the age group of six months to three years. The report says the unsafe food distributed included 3,556.50kg of Amrutham Nutrimix and 444kg of Bengal gram. An officer of the food safety department told TNIE the reported supply of unsafe food was due to delay in obtaining lab test results.