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FIINOVATION REVIEWS: FOOD SAFETY- A MAJOR CONCERN DURING FESTIVALS

On the first anniversary of “Surakshit Khadya Abhiyan”, organized by CII, the Food and Consumer Affairs Minister, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan has appealed the industries to reserve a certain percentage of funds for spreading awareness about the food safety amongst the consumers as it is increasingly becoming a major concern during the festive season. He also emphasized on the fact that the consumers should equip themselves to measure food adulteration in different products like cooking oil, milk, water, etc. to avoid health hazards.

In a recent report issued by the Public Health Foundation of India, 80 percent of all the premature deaths are attributed to contaminated food and water. The reports claims that children and elderly are the most vulnerable towards the harmful effects of adulterated food. The below data reveals the report of some of the recent incidents of health outbreak caused by the adulterated food during the religious festivals in some states of India.

Year

Location

Incident

May 2009

Village Mandava, Rajasthan

150 people reportedly fell ill during the religious Sawamani festival with complaints of stomach ache and vomiting.

Oct. 2009

Village Tulsibani, Orissa

50 people were admitted to hospital by consuming adulterated rice during the religious festival

July 2010

East Midnapore district, West Bengal

300 people got ill during a religious festival

April 2011

Nabrangpur, Orissa

200 people fell sick after consuming bhoga during the Satyanaryan pooja

Nov. 2011

Rajkot, Gujrat

100 people complained about vomiting and diarrhea after consuming basundi and milk during a religious gathering.

Dec. 2011

Ahemdabad, Gujrat

200 people fell prey to food poisionig due to the consumption of contaminated milk during Muharram

March 2012

Village Karindalam, Kerala

50 people fell sick during the religious festival

March 2013

Andhra Pradesh

200 people fell sick after consuming contaminated curd during Kalyanam festival of Lord Venkateshwara

April 2014

Telangana

350 people were admitted to hospital during the Ram Navmi hospital

May 2014

Solapur, Maharashtra

400 people suffered from diarrhea, stomach ache and 2 died during a festival at a temple

Ironically, to increase their profit margins, the food producers often tamper the food quality by mixing pesticides, fertilizers, carbide, coloring agents and other harmful chemicals while producing the food products, hence causing deaths and eventually deteriorating the health index of the country every year. The food adulteration has become a major challenge and it peaks during the festive season creating extra stress on the already comatose health system in India. Every year, the government raids various eateries and companies which are aggressively involved in the food adulteration. However, the roots of food adulteration racket is so deep that a major chunk of people are successful in escaping the legal actions.

Though it will be unfair to put the entire blame on the food manufacturers as the government continues to have relaxed legal laws. The lack of defined norms doesn’t allow the legal authorities to tighten the noose on the food manufacturers. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has not even prescribed the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) of many pesticides used on vegetables and fruits.

The research results about the contamination level across different states in water and milk, the most basic ingredients used for cooking food, has sent alarming waves across the country. In water samples, Chandigarh showed 100 per cent adulteration, Jharkhand showed 75 per cent, Andhra Pradesh 70 per cent, Karnataka 66 per cent and Tamil Nadu 58 per cent out of the samples collected for testing from each of these states or union territory. Similarly, the contamination level in milk samples found in Himachal Pradesh showed 92 per cent of contamination, while other states with high level of contamination includes Jharkhand at 45 per cent, Chhattisgarh at 38 per cent, Jammu & Kashmir at 32 per cent and Madhya Pradesh at 28 per cent.

Fiinovation strongly condemns the irresponsible attitude of companies for producing contaminated food and playing with the health and trust of innocent people. They should incorporate sustainability practices for manufacturing of eco-friendly products and use funds to spread awareness about the food safety practices to it consumers. We also request the government for defining strict food safety norms and not let the culprits get away from the strict legal lawsuits.

Manisha Bhatia

Media & Communications

Fiinovation

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