The official Twitter handle of Food & Drugs Administration, J&K boasts ‘Healthy Food are way cheaper than Hospital bills’ but the irony of the situation is that those given powers and authority to stem the rot are completely oblivious of their duties and hand in glove with profit making hoteliers all out to play with lives and health of gullible clients. The LG Manoj Sinha should made it mandatory for every hotel and restaurant to display prominently the emails and contact numbers of FDA in case of complaint about unsafe food items served-Prof. SK.BHALLA
JAMMU: Unabated sale of unsafe, stale and adulterated food items in eateries of Jammu province has not only foiled the Centre government much hyped ‘Eat Right India’ (ERI) campaign but also raised needle of suspicion on the working pattern of food safety wing of Drugs and Food Control Organization (D&FCO) in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir which reveals less and hides more.
The ERI is an initiative of the Government of India and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to transform the country’s food system in order to ensure safe, healthy and sustainable food for all Indians.
Tragically, while the people especially the young generation are silently suffering from several serious health ailments due to consumption of unsafe food items which are cooked and stored in hotels and restaurants by flouting all parameters of hygiene and health, the officials of Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) are busy in compiling data and showcasing their activities for keeping the higher authorities in good mood.
The gravity of situation can be gauged from the fact that last year around festival of Diwali, the LG administration in an exceptional move had directed the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) authority for surprise inspection of food establishments.
The team comprising officers of health wing of JMC conducted inspections and penalized several establishments for selling sub standard and unhealthy food items much to the displeasure of some officers of FDA especially Dr. Parvesh Chalotra, Assistant Food Commissioner, Jammuaccompanying the JMC officers.
Taking a dig at the Food Safety wing of D&FCO prominent critic and social activist Rajeshwar Singh Jamwal told JK Global News “In contrast to tall claims presented recently by Assistant Commissioner, FDA, Jammu before jury members in New Delhi which helps in placing the Jammu city among top 10 cities of the country in ERI, the eateries here are serving everything which is opposed to health and well being of citizens”.
Ironically, since October 2016, enforcing provision of FSSAI remains the domain of FDA which except showcasing impressive numerical data neither revealed names of erring establishments penalized for compromising health of clients nor yield desired results to implement Food Safety Act in letter and spirit.
“Look busy and does nothing syndrome among some officers of FDA results in sale of spurious/adulterated mustard oil openly in entire market of J&K by faking renowned P mark Oil. The concerned authority awaken on this alarming issue when it was accidentally noticed by one dealer in Kulgam who reported the matter to police”, further added Singh.
Interestingly, the oozing point of this vast quantity of spurious mustard oil was traced in BariBrahmna area of Jammu where packing, stocking and labeling of fake P Mark Oil was done for several years without being noticed by the concerned officers of FDA Jammu.
Pointing silence of authority over rampant sale of adulterated milk and milk products in Jammu city, noted anti-corruption crusader Prof. S.K.Bhalla said “Prior to 2016 checking of milk and milk products used to be a routine affair in Jammu city and dissemination of information about erring eateries happened to be regular features in newspapers for the awareness and consumption of public. Now, this good practice has been consigned to coffins after the implementation of FSSAI Act in J&K”.
Surprisingly, the D&FCO regularly apprise the general public through newspapers the names of chemist shops sealed for sale of spurious drugs but prefer discreet silence about its operation clandestine on hoteliers and restaurants. Kya yeh andhar ka mamla hei, quipped Prof. Bhalla.
The citizens have right to know what the FDA officials are doing against the erring hoteliers and restaurants and administration should initiate stern action against those who are hell bend to foil LG Manoj Sinha’s initiative of transparency and accountability in work, avers Prof Bhalla.
Further sharing his experience of “relishing” stinking and stale food item in one restaurant namely New Dilli located in Gandhi Nagar, Prof. Bhalla said that it plainly reflects that Food Safety wing of FDA is in deep slumber and only promoting operation quid pro quo.
FDA should make it a practice to conduct regular inspection in all categories of hotels. In this context, the government should take serious note of lethargic attitude of FDA officers and ensure to put in public domain the action taken against errant eateries who are pursuing agenda of maximum profiteering by serving stale and unhealthy food, asserted Prof. Bhalla adding “Merely maintaining numerical data on websites would not work if they keep on exhibiting their predilection for rogue eateries by safe guarding them.
Shakeel Ul Rehaman, Commissioner FDA, J&K while clarifying on the issue said “We have launched “aggressive” inspection of eateries and shops to check sale of adulterated, unsafe and spurious items consumed by public. Those penalized for violating provisions of FSSAI will be booked and their details will be shared in public domain through newspapers and FDA website as well as social media apps for sake of public awareness. This will be a regular feature, henceforth, said Rather.
JK Global News Take: Eateries serving unsafe and substandard food items are not only harming consumers’ health but also contribute in damaging the nation. Horrible condition prevailing inside kitchens of eateries and workshops of prominent food establishments evidently shows failure of incumbent FDA officers and prevalence of nexus. Five year is a long time to educate eateries owners about FSSAI Act. Conspicuous absence of surprise inspections is enough to prove that incumbent team of FSA is in deep slumber. The higher-ups in FDA J&K need to admit prevalence of undesired practices and revamp the system to make its presence felt in the market for effective implementation Food Safety Act in letter and spirit. Who needs to understand that action always speaks louder than words whereas catchy slogan on official twitter handle and compiling numerical data on website are good for nothing.