SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir high court on Monday directed the state government to fill up the post of commissioner food safety on priority and give accreditation to food safety laboratories in the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar.
Though the charge of commissioner food safety is held by Pawan Kotwal (commissioner secretary Health and Medical education), the court observed that full time commissioner food safety should be in place as per the provisions of food safety and standards Act.
Hearing Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Kumar remarked that the state needed full-time commissioner instead of part-time arrangement.
With respect to accreditation of food labs, we are informed that trainings have been started before applying for the accreditation under National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) and engagement of Dr Lalita Doda, head Central technology Mussorie for consultation on authentication of food labs has been done.
We direct state to submit updated status report on next hearing regarding authentication and accreditation of food labs, the bench ordered.
Meanwhile, the counsel from the state submitted before court that finance department has cleared the proposal for creation of commissioner food safety and full time commissioner would be in place very soon.
The counsel further informed that with regard to selection of food safety officers, the J&K Service selection Board has conducted exams and final selection list will be out by ending September, 2017.
Moreover, one post of food analyst, Srinagar has been filled but for Jammu it would be filled in 2018.
With respect to food safety tribunal at Jammu, Ashok Kumar Koul has been appointed as presiding officer for the tribunal, the state informed the high court.
The court directed that support staff should be made available for the functioning of the tribunal and same shall be done for Srinagar.
The officers from Dalgate lab, Srinagar who were present before the court stated that latest equipments have been installed and some will take two to three days for installation.
The court was informed that Ultra violet photometer spectroscopy (UPMS), Infra-red spectroscopy has been installed while Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass spectrophotometer (ICPMS) is being installed today and will take two to three days for operations.
The court directed that all the necessary equipments must be in place and for proper usage of these new installed equipments, manpower should also be there.
Advocate Mehmood Pracha petitioner counsel, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) pleaded before court that till the equipments were placed in food laboratories, the food officers can check the labels of packaged food articles around various markets under food safety and standards Act (2006) with regard to packaging and labeling regulation,2011.
After hearing the counsel, the court directed that till the functioning of the labs, food safety officers are directed to check labels of packaged food articles. In case any deviation, action according to law be taken and updated status report to be filed on next date of hearing.
Meanwhile the report submitted by state counsel said that the kitchen which was made operational by local police at Dalgate food lab has been closed down. The court observed that despite closure of the kitchen, a portion of the lab was being used by the police and asked the authorities to ensure withdrawal of the police for smooth functioning of the laboratory.