Consumers in the city, worried about reports of rampant milk adulteration, have found authorities to be unresponsive to their complaints.
HT had last month reported how milk samples from several prominent milk producers had tested positive for contamination and adulteration. Following the reports, several consumers had approached the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI), which had announced helpline numbers for consumers who suspected that the milk supplied to them was adulterated.
However, several readers who called the FSSAI helpline said they were either ignored, or found the redressal mechanisms to be unfeasible. “I managed to reach the adviser after four attempts. I was told to take a sample to a municipal laboratory at Dadar, and asked to pay Rs1,000 for a test. I don’t understand why citizens have to be charged for this,” said Aelekh Kapoor, an Andheri resident.
Kapoor will also have to wait 15 days for the result. If the milk sample tests positive for adulteration, he will have to write to the designated district officer. The letter required signatures of two witnesses. “If the procedure is so lengthy, I have no hope that the problem will be solved soon,” said Kapoor. Other readers go no response to their calls. “When call the FSSAI helpline number, the call gets disconnected while I am being directed to the adviser. This happens every day. I do not know whom I can approach now,” said Nikita Mehra, Parel resident.
“Consumers would naturally want quick results in such cases. Charging them should not be a source of revenue for the government. The procedure should be consumer-friendly and act as a deterrent to offenders,” said Shirish Deshpande, chairman, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.
However, Mahesh Zagade, state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, said there were no fees charge for adulteration tests. “When we receive a complaint, we collect the sample and test it in our laboratory. A normal fee is charged only if the reports are negative. For quicker results, consumers can approach their local food safety officers.”
A Madhavan, assistant director of the enforcement department of FSSAI also denied that money was charged. “We do not charge Rs 1,000. I will look into the matter and get it cleared,” he said.
Last month, HT got seven milk packets tested independently at two government-approved laboratories. The lab reports showed presence of detergent, urea, coliform, salt, sugar and neutralisers. According to Indian Council of Medical Research reports, these adulterants have harmful effects health.