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Major drive against adulteration food items in Delhi

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, May 10 (UNI) In its drive against adulterated food items this season, Delhi government has conducted 1,128 raids in shops across the national capital, in which more than 2.5 lakh kg of 'unwholesome' food and over 1.9 lakh kg of substandard ice was seized.

Delhi Health Minister Yoganand Shastri said under 'food hygiene raids' upto May 5, a total of 1,128 raids were conducted in which 2,52,197 kg of unwholesome food and 1,93,467 kg of substandard ice was seized.

He said action was also taken against 456 water trolleys, 67 sugarcane crushers and 2,452 'rehris' (hand carts), and 11,298 items were seized and 4,552 persons were prosecuted.

On April 26, the state government had kick started a special drive across the city to combat adulteration of milk and milk products this summer.

Dr Shastri constituted eight teams, headed by Sub Divisional Magistrates, that raided shops in the capital and collected milk and milk products samples.

The teams conducted the operation at more than 24 places including Ramesh Nagar, Patel Nagar, Ranjit Nagar, Subhash Nagar, Shastri Nagar, Vikas Puri, Subzi Mandi, Rohini, Karol Bagh, Nehru Nagar, Baljeet Nagar, Gandhi Nagar, Shahdara, Fateh Puri and Kotwali areas where milk and milk product are traded in bulk.

Raids were also being conducted at many other places.

The minister himself was present when raids were conducted near Hanuman Mandir in Connaught Place, opposite Old Delhi Railway Station and Khari Baoli in Chandni Chowk area.

Taken by surprise by the operation many shopkeepers pulled down shutters and ran away.

Dr Shastri directed the Public Analyst to analyse samples on priority basis and submit a report to the state government within 48 hours.

In cases where any evidence of adulteration/mis-branding was found strict action as per law under provisions of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954 would be taken, he added.

The minister said similar operations would be conducted periodically in different areas to exert pressure on adultrators and black marketers.

He, however, also had a word for 'genuine' traders, saying that the Directorate of PFA had established a policy of collecting samples routinely and wherever samples were found conforming to standards, it issued appropriate certificate to such traders as well.

Earlier, examination of polypack milk samples collected randomly from across the city has found the quality of about 25 per cent units wanting, albeit only in their 'fat content'.

The samples, belonging to lesser known to more known companies, were found 'impure' as their fat content was less by three to nine per cent.

As many as four of the 16 impure samples belonged to Gopaljee, three each to Mother Dairy and Paras, two to Parag and one each to Delhi Milk Scheme, Amul, Amul Gold and Param.

Action was also taken against guilty vendors and companies of which milk samples were found impure, according to the impurity tested and its extent.

The government was also taking steps to ensure that there were no allegations on the composition of the sample lifting team and the process adopted by them to lift milk samples.

Meanwhile, out of the nearly 12 lakh litres of milk required by the capital daily a huge quantity of it came from adjoining states, quality of which was difficult to monitor.

Another sample survey earlier had found milk and milk products the most adulterated food items.

As many as 30 per cent of milk samples (226 out of 748) were found adulterated while 107 milk product samples out of 1,070 were found adulterated.

With the 'lean' period round the corner, the state government had initiated the drive to pre-empt increase in incidence of milk and milk products adulteration during the season.

Summer months were lean period as milk supply was less and demand was more, which 'leads' to more adulteration, and hence more complaints.

Most common complaints related to presence of Oxytocin/Urea, deceptive description and milk constituents being less than their prescribed proportions.

Complaints about milk products depended upon the particular milk products and the use for which the product was intended.

Though the method of analysis including the sampling procedure had been defined in the PFA Act, testing procedure for presence of Oxytoxin had not been prescribed.

A study had revealed that the presence of Urea in milk was mostly due to natural causes and not due to malpractices in the trade.

Studies indicate that high level of Urea was due to high levels of Urea in the cattle feed.

There were some complaints about the use of vegetable fats and neutralising agents such as 'alkalies' and detergents. However, these were used mostly by small time traders to increase the shelf life of the product.

Food Inspectors were authorised to pick up samples for analysis under the supervision of Sub Divisional Magistrate/Local Health Authority in Delhi. The samples were analysed in the public laboratory as per the testing procedure prescribed by the central government.

When public analysis report indicated a particular article of food was adulterated, it came to the state government/Food Health Authority for grant of consent for prosecution.

In cases where consent was granted, prosecution was instituted and consent was refused in a very few cases. Defaulters were given first warning for labeling default.

In the context of milk and milk product this essentially related to milk when sold in packaged condition.

Depending upon the gravity of charge and the previous history of offender, the quantum of punishment varied from a fine of Rs 1,000 to imprisonment for life.

UNI IP SK BD1756

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