New Delhi, May 25 (G’nY News Service): From local vendors to multinational brands, food adulteration is a real problem conveniently covered up in India, putting public health at risk. Strict actions are imperative to wean out adulterated food from the market. According to the CSE Report bread samples are found with the presence of ‘potassium bromate/iodate’ that can cause hypersensitive reactions which includes skin rashes, severe headache and swollen salivary glands. Many top brands in India including Harvest Gold, KFC, Domino’s, Pizza Hut in India have met adulteration charges.
The rampant use of milk adulterants can cause digestive and chronic health problems among many other such similar stories. But, India’s failing food standards do not catch our attention. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) frequently rejects products shipped from India, from food to generic medicines and cosmetics. Given this, it is difficult to see how the Nestle product ‘Maggi’, was unsafe in India when analyses by Singapore, the United States, the U.K., and Canada indicated otherwise. This raises the prospect that India’s food safety monitoring system is inconsistent and arbitrary, a product of larger governance and bureaucratic failures at the regulatory level (The Diplomat).
What is really worrying about Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is the nature of its body and function. Ideally, a body like the FSSAI, whose work is technical, should be headed by a specialist, a scientist perhaps. Instead, it is almost always headed by a retired Indian Administrative Service officer, someone usually associated with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, who has been rewarded with a post-retirement sinecure (The Hindu).
Likewise, shortage of manpower and skill at both the FSSAI as well as the state food and drug departments has been identified (DNA India). Despite the existence of other regulatory bodies such as Directorate of Marketing and Inspection (DIM), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Export Inspection Council (EIC), etc prevalent cases of food adulteration involving giant companies seem to reveal that concerned authorities’ attitude and response is dubious and misleading to the public. Availability of adulterated food in the market clearly shows lack of sincerity and transparency on the part of the authorities and the companies as well. The processes and standards of food regulation in India are highly questionable. It is highly likely that any ten random packaged foods in the market will be found adulterated if tested. The market may be abundant with adulterated food which the public consume on a daily basis.
Food is a serious matter of health to people. Therefore, food safety has to be a priority and concerned bodies need to act immediately to curb food adulteration. The public should be better informed about the reality of food regulation in India.