Strict measures needed against milk adulteration: SC

Strict measures needed against milk adulteration: SC

Calls for effective implementation of FSSA, spot check through mobile food testing vans
New Delhi: Calling for stringent measures to combat adulteration of milk and its products, the Supreme Court of India on Friday asked Jammu and Kashmir and other states to implement Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 in “effective manner”.
The Apex Court among others also called for providing spot testing for conducting qualitative test of adulteration in food.
“Traditionally infants/children are fed milk, adulteration of milk and its products is a concern and stringent measures need to be taken to combat it. The consumption of adulterated milk and adulterated milk products is hazardous to human health,” said a division bench of head by Chief Justice T S Thakur disposing of public interest litigation titled Swami Achyutanand Tirth & Ors, highlighting the menace of growing sales of adulterated and synthetic milk.
The division bench also comprising Justices R. Banumathi and Uday Umesh Lalit also asked Government of India to revisit the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and revise the punishment for adulteration making it more deterrent in cases where the adulterant can have an adverse impact on health.
Considering the seriousness of the matter, the court asked GoI and the State Governments to take appropriate steps to implement FSSA, 2006 in a more “effective manner”.
“States shall take appropriate steps to inform owners of dairy, dairy operators and retailers working in the State that if chemical adulterants like pesticides, caustic soda and other chemicals are found in the milk, then stringent action will be taken on the State Dairy Operators or retailers or all the persons involved in the same.”
The State Food Safety Authority, the court said, should also identify high risk areas –where there is greater presence of food manufacturer and business operator etc, and times (near festivals etc.) when there is risk of ingesting adulterated milk or milk products due to environmental and other factors and greater number of food samples should be taken from those areas.
It also directed State Food Safety Authorities to ensure that there is adequate lab testing infrastructure and ensure that all labs obtain NABL accreditation to facilitate precise testing.
“State Government to ensure that State food testing laboratories/district food laboratories are well-equipped with the technical persons and testing facilities,” the court said.
The court also asked for special measures by the State Food Safety Authorities (SFSA) and District Authorities for sampling of milk and milk products, including spot testing through Mobile Food Testing Vans equipped with primary testing kits for conducting qualitative test of adulteration in food.
“Since the snap short survey conducted in 2011 revealed adulteration of milk by hazardous substances including chemicals, such snap short surveys to be conducted periodically both in the State as well as at the national level by FSSAI,” it said.
For curbing milk adulteration, an appropriate State level Committee headed by the Chief Secretary or the Secretary of Dairy Department and District level Committee headed by the concerned District Collector shall be constituted, it said.
To prevent adulteration of milk, the court asked the State Department to set up a website thereby specifying the functioning and responsibilities of food safety authorities and also creating awareness about complaint mechanisms.
“In the website, the contact details of the Joint Commissioners including the Food Safety Commissioners shall be made available for registering the complaints on the said website. All States should also have and maintain toll free telephonic and online complaint mechanism,” the court added.

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