JK has no standard food testing lab, govt admits

JK has no standard food testing lab, govt admits

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir lacks a laboratory or other paraphernalia that can test food items for quality standards set by the Food Safety and Standard Act, state’s food commissioner told high court on Monday.
“The statement is enough to shock conscience of every sensitive soul…it appears that people are made to consume adulterated food. All those who are responsible for checking adulteration probably have forgotten to perform their statutory duty,” a bench of justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey said after hearing the Commissioner Food Safety.
“How you allow people to consume food which is not being cross checked? How can you permit food to have in market if you don’t have laboratories? It is nothing but nexus,” the court said and questioned as to who will compensate those suffering chronic diseases due to the consumption of adulterated food.
“After getting votes, the government doesn’t care for people even if they consume dangerous food items,” the court observed.
Hearing a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation, the division bench directed Health and Medical Education Department (H&ME) to file a fresh compliance report which “adequately responds to the information sought by the Court on last date of hearing and suggestion made by amicus curie (advocate B A Bashir).”
Earlier, the health department filed a compliance report but after its perusal, the court said that it does not comply with its directions issued on the previous hearing.
“The respondents (health department) to respond to the suggestions placed on record in writing by amicus. They shall also give full details about the issues raised on last date (of hearing). The details shall be provided by or before the next date,” the court said and posted the PIL on Wednesday.
Last week, the court had directed government to furnish details about the number of food testing laboratories along with their location, number of officers and officials required to be posted under FSSA, full details of persons, companies and corporations involved in manufacturing or processing food products in the state and details about convictions recorded by courts on the complaints filed Act.
In his suggestions, the amicus curie BA Bashir had sought details regarding district-wise number of recognized scientific food-testing laboratories with requisite machinery and equipments, staff strength as well number of Food Safety Analysts along with their qualifications.
He had also demanded government to reveal names of the food safety officers, composition of the food safety appellate tribunal along with the identity of its adjudicating officers.
To curb the menace of food adulteration, he had also demanded that there must be scientific or advisory committees at Central level.
Meanwhile, in the report filed by through undersecretary Bilal Ahmad, the H&ME submitted there are two Food Testing laboratories across the state: one at Dalgate Srinagar and other at Patoli Mangotrian, Jammu (but none satisfying the requirement under the FSSA).
Bilal said ever since the implementation of FSSA, 1522 convictions have been recorded by different competent courts and the fine of Rs. 1.32 crore realised.
He had sought time to furnish the name and full particulars of all those persons, companies, corporations who are manufacturing or processing any food products in the state.

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