The food and drug administration (FDA) has intensified their surveillance in Maharashtra. They have also initiated a new cross – verification procedure that enables food safety officers to inspect food establishments outside their jurisdiction. That means any food safety officer can be sent to conduct a surprise inspection anywhere so that continuous check can be maintained on food establishments. The FDI feels that this constant cross surveillance will help to keep a check on food adulteration.
The Food Act considers food to be adulterated if it is unsafe for consumption, contains extraneous but harmless matter, if food is misbranded or if it does not have the quality as it is supposed to have. Adding a substance to food that is not permitted makes food unsafe, and hence that food is also considered to be adulterated.
Sometimes food adulteration is unintentional and some adulteration result from pesticide and fertilizer residue. Pesticides and hormones are used by farmers to grow and ripen food faster which prove to be dangerous for the consumer. However, sometimes substances are intentionally added to food or financial benefits and the frequency of this type of adulteration has been increasing in India.
Colour additives like Metanil Yellow in foods like turmeric and dals can cause harmful effects as it is highly carcinogenic. Green chillies, green peas and other green vegetables are made to look brighter with Malachite Green. Milk is very often diluted with water. Dangerous substances like starch, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), urea, sugar, hydrated lime, formalin, ammonium sulfate and sodium carbonate are very often added to make milk thick. Ice cream is adulterated with washing powder and other chemicals. Despite the existence of stringent food laws it is very difficult to monitor or detect adulteration in foods.
Milk is one of the most adulterated foods in India. The FDA, in Maharashtra, has received complaints from a lot of Mumbai residents about milk adulteration. After the complaints, cases have been filed against some top milk brands and also against dairy owners in Jalgaon and Kolhapur. The food safety officers are keeping a strict eye on the milk chain also right from manufacturers to vendors to delivery boys to prevent adulteration.
A toll free number has been issued by the FDA to register complaints on the findings. Already 10 complaints have been received in the past week when the number was made public. The complaints are mostly about suspected adulteration in milk and milk products. Some of the complaints are about food business operators who have not yet obtained a valid license. Complaints can be made anonymously on the toll free number 1800222365.
Since the FDA is serious about weeding out all adulteration in foods they have announced that if FDA officials are found to be at fault they will not be spared either.