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Gulam Jeelani , Hindustan Times
Lucknow, October 31, 2013
Despite crackdowns — be it during festivals or otherwise — adulteration business continues to be ‘healthy’. Like every year, tonnes of sweets, bakery, dairy products, and processed foods are being sold in the state capital this Diwali too. But how much of this is actually of good quality and safe for consumption is anybody’s guess.

Though the Food Safety and Drug Administration (FDA) department carried out its routine sample collection exercise jointly with the district administration, many feel that these drives are mere formalities, so it appears from past records.

Food samples are collected and sent for quality check in the Public Analyst Lab (PAL) in Varanasi.

Strange it may seem, the laboratory reports come only after the adulterated items are already consumed during festivals. While few fail the purity test, cases are registered in even fewer incidents.

The FDA’s role does not end with sample reports.

In case the lab report finds any violation, a notice is sent to the shopkeeper or the manufacturer who can apply for fresh test of the sample by a referral lab, which is in Kolkata.

It is this report, which is considered final.

“After we issue a notice, the manufacturer takes his time to apply for a fresh test in the referral lab, which further takes months to furnish a final report. By the time the report comes, it is almost next year and we start a fresh drive,” an FDA official said, terming the raids a mere “eyewash”.

More than the eyewash theory, it seems that the procedure of implementing the food safety guidelines is too prolonged to be effective.

JP Singh, chief food safety inspector, however, has a different take on the matter.

“The drives at least create fear among the offenders. They would think twice before adulterating food stuff,” he said. But what ultimately matters is how much aware is a consumer, he added.