Vide its Press Release on 25th November 2019, India’s Food regulator, the FSSAI released Data on enforcement efforts by the States and UTs in the Country. These covered the following, including trends over the past 3 years :
- Samples Analyzed
- Non-conforming Samples
- Cases Launched
- Convictions obtained and
- Penalties levied
Of the total 1,06,459 samples analyzed
- 7% were found unsafe
- 8% were found to be sub-standard
- 0% had labelling defects
The separation under the above heads would assist Food Safety Authorities to take precise corrective and preventive action in future. While there would be zero tolerance for unsafe foods, the sub-standard and defective labelling categories called for greater efforts on the part of food business to invest in capacity building.
While the data showed a 7% rise in the number of samples analyzed over that of 2017-18, there was a 25% increase in the number of non-conforming samples when compared to the previous year. This showed better targeting of enforcement efforts by the States and UTs.
It was also found that there was 36% increase in the number of Civil Cases launched and 67% increase in the number of cases where penalties were imposed. The amount of penalty also rose by 23% in 2018-19 when compared to 2017-18 and the total amount levied was Rs. 32.58 crores.
As regards Criminal Cases, there has been a sharp rise by 86%, but as Criminal Cases drag on for time, only 5198 cases were concluded in the year 2018-19, including backlog from previous years. In the current year, 701 convictions have been obtained in the Criminal Cases.
Ten (10) States and UTs have performed well and these include Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi ad Chandigarh.
Ten (10) States and UTs have performed miserably in the enforcement of food safety and these include, Chhatisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telengana, West Bengal and Uttarakhand.
It was found that in many of the poorly performing States and UTs, they have not even put in place full time Officers for Food Safety checks and some do not even have proper food testing Laboratories in spite of the Laws regarding Food Safety having been passed over a decade ago.
Food safety extends well beyond the realm of food adulteration. The WHO has identified 31 foodborne health hazards and stated that global burden of food borne diseases (FBD) is comparable top those of major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis!
The most common cases of Foodborne Illness were diarrheal diseases. Others were Salmonella Typhi, Taenia Solium and Hepatitis A.
The 31 foodborne health hazards created a global burden of 33 million cases in 2010, of which children under 5 (five) faced 40% of the burden of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), affecting 9% of the global population then. Thus, the importance of improving food safety throughout the food chain cannot be overemphasized.
Shri PAWAN AGARWAL, CEO of FSSAI stressed that: ‘More rigorous enforcement by States is essential to build Public Trust in food. He admitted that Public Trust has been eroded in recent time due to fake news creating widespread perception of large-scale adulteration in the Country’.
He further added, ‘FSSAI is working with States and UTs, particularly with the weaker ones in this regard. For this, FSSAI is increasing the capacity of State Food Laboratories and enabling use of private food labs for testing food samples. Enforcement efforts have to be better targeted and preceded by surveillance efforts to identify hotspots and problem areas ‘.
To view enforcement report: click here