INDIA: Take food safety seriously
Posted: September 28th, 2011 - 3:01pm
Food adulteration in India seems to be getting deadlier by the day. First we had some unscrupulous dairy farmers in western Uttar Pradesh inventing synthetic milk - a deadly cocktail of urea, caustic soda and vegetable oil. Then we had reports of fruits, particularly mangoes, being ripened with calcium carbide and now, there are reports of fish being made to appear fresh with formalin.
All adulterants such as calcium carbide and formalin are banned from use in food items - whether raw or packaged - since they are known to be toxic. Some of them have even been classified as carcinogens or cancercausing substances.
The situation is indicative of a deeper malaise in the Indian food regulatory regime. The food industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past two decades, but food regulation has hardly kept pace.
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act has been replaced with a broad-based food safety law and a body called the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. But the change has made no difference at the ground level.
Instead of tackling adulteration and the issue of food safety, the authority appears preoccupied with issues connected with the packaged food industry. It is high time that the food regulator tightened its belt.