Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mid-day Meal: Authorities Insensitive to DPI Circular

To prevent another mid-day meal tragedy on the lines of the one in Bihar which claimed the lives of 23 schoolchildren in July, Director of Public Instruction (DPI) Biju Prabhakar, who is also in-charge of the Food Safety Department, issued a circular, with 21 crucial directives, on October 30 to all schools in the state to ensure safety in mid-day meal supply. However, the school authorities are turning a blind eye to the directives.
 The circular, issued two months ago, had no impact on the schools so far. The circular instructs each school to register their kitchen under the Food Safety Department (FSD) with proper details of the storage facility, kitchen facility, health of kitchen employees, hygienic measures taken etc. But so far, the FSD has not received even a single application from any school for registration.  February 4, 2014 is the last date for submitting applications. The circular also instructs the authorities of schools to ensure the fitness of kitchen employees by conducting periodical medical checkups. This directive was also not taken into serious consideration by schools. “There are high chances for diseases to spread from cooks to kids through food. So the health of cooks must be ensured. Diseases such as typhoid can be transmitted through unclean food habits,” M K Appunni, retired DMO, said.
 The Food Safety Department conducted inspections in the schools across the state a few months ago and it revealed that kitchens in most of the schools were functioning under unhygienic conditions. “None of the schools have proper storage facilities and due to this the grains are getting spoiled. Kitchens in all the schools are functioning under unhygienic conditions. It is the key reason why the directives were issued,” Food Safety Officer Mini A K said.
 School headmasters complain that they have not received any proper directives in this regard. “I saw the circular on the Education Department’s website but I did not get any directive from the Deputy Director of Education yet. Anyway let me look into it,” Head Master of Kalanjoor LP School, Konni, Sree Kumar K said.
 “We issued such a circular to create awareness among the school authorities. We will assist them in implementing the directives. We sought Central Government fund for its implementation,” Biju Prabhakar said. He also said this was not the phase for taking action against anyone. “Our sole intention is to make the school authorities aware of healthy ways to prevent diseases. Once this phase gets over, we won’t compromise and strict action will be taken against all those who violate the norms in the circular,” Biju Prabhakar said.
 Some of the Major Directives
■ A senior teacher will ensure whether food is supplied strictly under the Food Safety Regulations Act or not. The teacher must also be a member of the Food committee. In addition to the senior teacher, a doctor from the Primary Health Centre and a representative of students must also be there in the Food committee.
■ Food materials should be bought only from a shop registered under the Food Safety Act.
■ Food materials must be stored in safe storage rooms.
■ The contact number of the Food Safety Officer should be displayed on the notice board of schools.
■ Mandatory chemical and microbiological tests must be done periodically to ensure the quality of drinking and cooking water.
■ Kitchen staff must be free of diseases and periodical health checkups must be done.
■ Cooking should not be done in open air.
■ Keep urinal, latrines etc away from the kitchen and must be cleaned.
■ Drainage must be covered.
■  Kitchen workers should have separate living rooms.

Friday, December 13, 2013

അയ്യപ്പന്‍‌മാര്‍ക്ക് ചിക്കന്‍ പഫ്സ് നല്‍കി; ബേക്കറി അടപ്പിച്ചു

ശബരിമല തീര്‍ഥാടകര്‍ക്ക് മാംസത്തിന്റെ പഫ്സ് നല്‍കിയെന്ന പരാതിയില്‍ എന്‍ഫോഴ്സ്മെന്റ് ഫുഡ് ഇന്‍സ്പെക്ടര്‍ ബേക്കറി അടപ്പിച്ചു. റാന്നി പെരുമ്പുഴ ബസ്സ്റ്റാന്‍ഡിന് സമീപം പ്രവര്‍ത്തിക്കുന്ന ബേക്കറിയാണ് അടപ്പിച്ചത്.  തിങ്കളാഴ്ച പകല്‍ പന്ത്രണ്ടോടെയാണ് സംഭവം. വിതുര സ്വദേശികളായ നൂറംഗ സംഘം ശബരിമലയിലേക്ക് നടന്നുപോകുന്നതിനിടെ ലഘുഭക്ഷണം കഴിക്കാനാണ് ബേക്കറിയില്‍ കയറിയത്. പഫ്സ് വെജിറ്റബിള്‍ തന്നെയാണോ എന്ന് കടയുടമയോട് ചോദിച്ച് ഉറപ്പുവരുത്തിയ ശേഷമാണ് കഴിക്കാന്‍ തുടങ്ങിയത്. തീര്‍ഥാടകര്‍ക്കുവേണ്ടി പ്രത്യേകം ഉണ്ടാക്കിയ പഫ്സാണെന്ന് കടയുടമ ഉറപ്പും നല്‍കി. കഴിച്ചു തുടങ്ങിയപ്പോഴാണ് മാംസത്തിന്റേതാണെന്ന് തിരിച്ചറിഞ്ഞത്. ഉടന്‍ തന്നെ പെരുമ്പുഴയിലെ ശബരിമല ഇന്‍ഫര്‍മേഷന്‍ സെന്ററുമായി തീര്‍ഥാടകര്‍ ബന്ധപ്പെട്ടു. സപ്ലൈ ഓഫീസിലും പൊലീസ് സ്റ്റേഷനിലും ഗുരുസ്വാമി സതീശന്‍ പരാതിപ്പെട്ടു.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Obtain licences, caterers told

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Thursday held that the catering service providers need to obtain licence or permission from the authorities concerned under the Food Safety and Standard Act.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice A.M. Shaffique made the observation while hearing a petition seeking a directive to make the Act applicable to the caterers as well.
Petitioner Saiju of Kalady said most of the caterers in the State were doing business without valid licences and the court should prohibit the functioning of such caterers. Food Safety Commissioner Biju Prabhakar informed the court that necessary steps had already been taken to insist for licences as per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. The State also submitted that a circular was issued asking all the hotels and restaurants to take licence by the end of February 2014 for conducting business. The court asked the State government to issue a similar circular in respect of caterers.
The petitioner contended that though the caterers came within the ambit of the Act, the authorities had not taken any steps to legalise the functioning of caterers.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

FSSAI to upgrade food labs; 3 food parks to be operational, says MoFPI

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has undertaken the gap analysis of 72 public laboratories, and according to Sanjay Dave, advisor to the country’s apex food regulator and chairperson, Codex Alimentarius Commission, the existing labs are being upgraded using a corpus of Rs 800 crore (which is about 75 per cent of the cost of upgradation of the facilities). Moreover, 33 new facilities will be in place soon, which will take the number of labs across India to 105.
Siraj Hussain, secretary, miistry of food processing industries (MoFPI), stated that over the next six months, three food parks will become operational in Punjab, Kolkata and Bengaluru, in addition to the two in Patanjali and Chittoor, which are already operational. He inaugurated the National Food Safety and Quality Summit, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Tuesday. Dave delivered the keynote address at the meet.   
The advisor to FSSAI pointed out that with consumers rapidly moving towards safe foods, standards and regulations would have to be made effective. He informed that horizontal standards (such as the standards for additives and contaminants) were likely to be issued by July 2014, and the harmonisation of the Indian standards with those laid down by Codex would be a landmark achievement in the food processing sector.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Corrupt FSOs responsible for extended licensing, registration deadline

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has extended the licensing and registration deadline thrice in the last two years, because food safety officers (FSO) in a number of states have allegedly been accepting bribes, according to M A Tejani, managing director, Gits Food Products Pvt Ltd. February 4, 2014 has been set as the latest, and a further extension seems unlikely. Tejani said, “FSSAI has just been set up for corruption. There have been a number of occasions when food business operators (FBO) approached officials of the country’s apex food regulator for more information about the new licensing and registration rules, and the latter simply passed the buck to others. It seems they lack a sense of responsibility and accountability.”
He added, “The legal fee for registration is Rs 100 for FBO whose profit is less than Rs 12 lakh, and Rs 2,000 for licensing for those who earn a profit of Rs 12 lakh or more. But FSO in states like Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra have allegedly been demanding bribes ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 1,50,000 for licensing and registration.”
“A majority of the FBO fear the punitive action that the FSO threaten to take aganist them and pay the bribe. However, there are some who do not pay them, and that is the reason for the delay in issuing licences to them or getting their establishments registered,” said Tejani, who is also president, the All India Food Processors’ Association (AIFPA).
He informed FnB News that several FBO in Mumbai have valid licences or are running registered establishments, but pay the FSO bribes, and this is compelling several small-scale FBO to down their shutters, and added that since the implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006 on August 5, 2011, FSO have come up with novel ways to demand bribes.
The owner of a South Indian eatery in Matunga said, “It is true that we have to pay FSO bribes despite being registered/licensed eateries. Since FSSA came into effect, FSO have been behaving like inspectors. It is, in fact, the Inspector Raj. The licensing and registration deadline would have not been extended if the FSO had been friendly with us and informed us about the procedure.”