For some time now, there have been reports that fruits and vegetables that come into Kerala are laden with pesticides. Keeping FSSAI regulations in mind, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has now decided to take some serious steps to ensure that all food entering Kerala from the neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka meet all safety standards.
The Chief Minister has decided to set up a new authority under the Food Safety Commissioner to ensure that food coming from other states is free from pesticides. The new authority would have members from various departments and would strictly monitor fruit and vegetables coming into Kerala. Vigilance and strict monitoring is going to increase as a result of the complaints about pesticides in the vegetable and fruit. The government is also planning to put in place strict prosecution measures for those who sell adulterated fruit and vegetables.
Kerala produces only 40% of its fruit and vegetable requirements the rest comes from other states. Pesticides are now being increasingly used on vegetables to increase shelf life. Pesticides are harmful to people as they are designed to kill insects, rodents and other organisms like bacteria and moulds. Almost 400 truckloads of fruit and vegetables that come to Kerala from other states are reported to be full of pesticides. The government feels that the pesticide laden fruit and vegetables could be one of the reasons for the increase in the incidence of cancer in Kerala.
In order to resolve this issue of food contaminants, the Kerala government and other political parties like the CPI-M have decided to play a proactive role in encouraging kitchen gardens in homes. To lay emphasis on this a three-day event has been planned in Thiruvananthapuram and Alappuzha for later this month. The government hopes that with every home having a kitchen garden their dependence for vegetables and fruits from other states would be reduced. Having home grown agricultural produce could help to reduce hazards in food so that health issues like cancer will also see a reduction in the long run.
The Food Safety Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations came into effect after 5th August 2011 to ensure that agricultural produce is safe from contaminants, toxins and residues. The Food and Safety Standards has laid down the tolerance limit of various contaminants, toxins and pesticides. Any contaminant that is found to be above the admissible limits is hazardous for the consumer as it could lead to diseases of the nervous system, birth defects and cancer when contaminated food is repeatedly consumed.