Food safety commissioner Sanjay Kumar has granted sanction to prosecute owners of 70 food and sweets outlets who allegedly used adulterated ingredients in violation of various provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which came into force in the state last year.
The list includes seven prominent sweets outlets at New Dak Bungalow Road, Boring Road and Mithapur in the state capital. The rest belong to Bhagalpur, Gaya, Munger and Banka.
In most of the cases, the owners have been been charged with using non-edible synthetic colouring agents like lead chromate to enhance the colour of food items. If their offences are established, the violators could be imprisoned for a maximum period of six years besides paying a fine of Rs. 5 lakh each.
Notably, it has been scientifically proved that most of nonedible colouring agents are carcinogenic and their use may prove lethal.
Some of the alleged violators have also been charged with selling insect-infested food items. The offence invites a punishment for up to one year imprisonment and also a fine of Rs. 3 lakh.
Following the approval for prosecution, the cases will be tried in the designated courts, especially set up at all district headquarters for the purpose.
Confirming the development, food safety commissioner Sanjay Kumar told HT on Wednesday that in the second phase, some more cases would be given prosecution sanction. “Prima facie, we have selected around 100 cases to be tried in the special courts,” he added.
Significantly, as part of a special drive launched in Bihar in the last two festive seasons, the food safety officials had collected over 300 samples from various food manufacturing units and sweets outlets and sent them to the designated laboratories for examination. Of them, more than 100 samples turned out to be unsafe for human consumption.