Delhi government’s food safety department has submitted a report to the High court which states that the rice served in restaurant chains, KFC and Sagar Ratna was found to be unsafe. Random samples taken from the two popular restaurant chains were tested and the rice samples were found to contain artificial harmful colouring. Legal action is now being initiated against the two restaurants. Another restaurant Bikanervala was found to be serving substandard fruit and vegetable chutney.
Early this year, the high court had made an observation that vegetables sold in the Capital were “unfit for human consumption”. The court had made these observations on the basis of an expert committee report which found pesticides in fruits and vegetables to be above the maximum residual limits. Pesticides like chlordane, endrin, heptachlor, ethyl and parathion are used in vegetables and an excess consumption can lead to neurological problems, kidney damage, cancer and other diseases.
Denying the allegations of using artificial colours, KFC says that they use natural colour (beta carotene) sourced from highly reputed international suppliers in their Rizo Rice meals. They say that the recent rice sample collected by FSSAI has been analysed at an NABL-accredited independent lab and the report confirms that there was no tartrazine or any other synthetic colour found in the sample.
While Bikanervala did not respond to the allegations Sagar Ratna was also vehement in its denial of providing low quality food. They claim that the sample taken by FSSAI was that of raw uncooked rice and that they always ensure that the rice they source is of well known brands only. They say that they follow a stringent procedure in cleaning, washing and boiling rice before serving it to customers in the form of prepared dishes but are willing to fully cooperate with FSSAI.
The Centre is also working on a “grow safe food campaign” that could entail policy initiatives on pesticide use as many food samples were found to contain a lot of pesticide residues beyond the recommended limits. To ensure food safety, the Delhi government food department has tested almost 648 samples of fruits and vegetables sold in Delhi markets. Residues of the pesticide fenthion were found to be above permissible limits as prescribed in the FSS (Contaminants, Toxin and Residue) Regulation, 2011. Among the ghee samples and tomato ketchup samples that were tested, a few were found to be either substandard, unsafe or misbranded to mislead consumers.
Fenthion is an insecticide which is allowed to be used in the following food articles but within the permissible limits:
Food grains – 0.10 mg/kg (ppm)
Milled food grains – 0.03 mg/kg (ppm)
Onion – 0.10 mg/kg (ppm)
Potatoes – 0.05 mg/kg (ppm)
Beans – 0.10 mg/kg (ppm)
Peas – 0.50 mg/kg (ppm)
Tomatoes – 0.50 mg/kg (ppm)
Other Vegetables – 1.00 mg/kg (ppm)
Musk melon – 2.00 mg/kg (ppm)
Meat & Poultry 2.00 mg/kg (ppm) (carcass Fat basis)