Ritika Jha Palial
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 17
Even four years after being established, the food safety cell has failed to conduct regular checks to look for adulteration of milk in the city.
Against the approximate supply of nearly 15 lakh litres of loose milk in the city per day (in residential and commercial establishments), the food safety cell has only taken 31 samples of loose milk.
Of these 31, six were found substandard and the cases pertaining to these are still pending in court here. Of the nearly 3,000 milk vendors catering to the city, only 30 are currently registered with the food safety cell. According to the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), it is mandatory for all milk vendors to register themselves with the local food safety authority.
“In all six cases where samples were found substandard, mixing of water in milk turned out to be the most common form of adulteration,” said an official from the Health Department, requesting anonymity.
Sources said officers of the “ill-equipped” food safety cell fear protests by milkmen. Four years ago, after one of the milk vendors was challaned, the association of vendors held a massive protest. They also stopped the supply of milk to the city.
While the milkmen refrained from commenting on the issue when approached during their daily gathering in Sector 21, a representative of their union said, “We sell a variety of milk. The cost varies as per the fat content. However, none of the customers is overcharged.”The supply of packaged milk, largely Verka milk, is close to 3,50,000 litres per day in the city.
Officer unavailable for comments
n The newly appointed designated officer, Dr Rajinder Sharma, could not be contacted despited repeated attempts. While he was not present in his office after 1 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, he does not keep a mobile phone.
Food safety cell short of staff
- Against the 12 posts of food inspector, only two are currently available for raiding and sample collection.
- The food safety cell does not have its own dedicated vehicle. Even for carrying out raids on sweets shops, it has to depend on taxis.
- Milk containers not sent for safe food handling test.
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