Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chennai food safety department seizes and destroys expired food products

More than sixty brands of food products were found to be either mislabelled or improperly labelled or with certain details missing and seized by the Chennai Corporation and the city's food safety department recently. During the raids, they were also found to be past their expiry dates, and were destroyed at the behest of the then food commissioner S Ramanathan.

The branded products included biscuits, sweets, dates, oats, packed wheat flour, semolina, health mixes, baking powder, herbal mixes, chole masala, pepper sauce, garam masala, chilli sauce, asafoetida, packed natural fruit juice, appam powder, rasam powder and sambar powder. Shops in such localities as Purasawalkam and Chintadripet were raided.

S Lakshmi Narayan, district food safety officer, Chennai, said, “The raids were conducted based on complaints by people who had gone shopping. We also warned several shop owners who stocked these mislabelled products. Over two tonnes of meat, sourced from rotting carcasses, were also seized in Chintadripet. We have sent the samples of the products to the laboratory for testing.”

“After getting the results we obtained the food commissioner's permission and destroyed the products. More than half the food products sold in Purasawalkam did not even have batch numbers. And many food business operators (FBOs) hadn't registered under the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, which came into effect on August 5, 2011,” he said.

Narayan said, “The licenses issued to traders under the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, 1954 (which the FSSA, 2006 replaced) expired in March 2011, but many FBOs are unaware that they need to acquire fresh licenses under the new Act. All FBOs have been asked to get a license from the food safety department by February 4, 2013 – an extension to the earlier deadline of August 4, 2012.”

“As many as 12,500 FBOs in Chennai are yet to get a license. And a chunk of 7,500 smaller players do nothave registration certificates,” he said, adding, “Complaints pertaining to unhygienic food products can be made to the food safety department through the toll-free helpline set up by the civic body. The number of the helpline in 1913.”

In a telephonic conversation with FnB News, the district food safety officer said, “Through your publication, I would request all the food business operators from Chennai to come forward and apply for their licenses and register themselves under the FSSA, 2006, well before the February 4, 2013 deadline to avoid the eleventh-hour rush.”

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