With the festival season around the corner, residents have sought regular raids by the health department at prominent sweet shops to check adulteration.
Even as sweet shops have already started arrangements to prepare sweets, despite complaints by city residents, samples of sweets are not being collected from shops in the city.
MS Gill, president of People's Forum for Transparency and Social Concern, said, “If the health officials do their work honestly, residents' lives would not be at risk. It is a fact that the health department does not take samples from big and famous sweet shops of the city.”
Gill, who has worked to expose adulteration in sweets during the past few years, has demanded that a mobile van be deployed in the district for checking of food items.
Following the complaints of people, the health department should collect samples and check them on spot. Those found selling adulterated food items should be penalised severely, he added.
“Despite the recent complaints against two big sweet shops in Model Town and Sarabha Nagar market, the department has not collected samples. Health officials did visit a prominent sweet shop in Model Town and destroyed unhealthy sweets, but did not collect samples,” he added.
Another city resident Tejinder Singh, said, “Every year we hear about the raids to check adulteration, but transparency is required in the health department's functioning. The shopkeepers, who sell adulterated sweets or food items should not be spared.”
As many as 31 samples of sweets have been collected to check adulteration this year. Of them five failed test. However, the Ludhiana health department has not tried to take samples of sweets from big sweet shops in the city.
In 2013, two samples of “cham cham” collected from Haqiqat Sweets, Hambran road, and Amar Sweets Shop, Haibowal, failed test. Besides these, samples of milk cake and “khoya peda” of Khateshwar Bikaneri Mishthan Bhandar in Sanjay Gandhi Colony were also found unfit for consumption.
During October-November in 2012, the department had collected around 70 samples of sweets. Of them nine samples failed test. But the samples were not collected from big sweet shops of the city.
Meanwhile, district health officer Dr Abnash Kumar claimed that they were conducting food sampling raids at big sweet shops too. He said that they would ensure sale of safe sweets for people.
The district health officer admitted that they destroyed sweets at a famous sweet shop in Model Town, adding that the complainant had reached a compromise with the owner, so they did not collect samples.
However, a source from the health department, said corruption and political pressure were deterring officials from conducting regular food sampling raids at big sweet shops.