Ailing since years, Haryana food laboratory cries for attention

  • Rajesh Moudgil, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jun 19, 2015 08:39 IST

The Haryana state food laboratory (SFL) in the city operates from a dilapidated building and has neither the basic equipment to test food nor adequate staff for the past many years. This handicap came to the fore in the recent controversy where lead was found in popular instant noodle brand, Maggi.

“In the Maggi case, we did not have even the rudimentary equipment to test for lead,” says a senior official from the health department.

The test had to be done at PGIMER instead.

The laboratory suffers from not having controlled conditions – essential if one is testing food items using chemicals. The SFL did not have an atomic adsorption spector-photometer either which could have helped detect lead levels.

Ironically, the very centre, situated in Sector 11-D, is in a pitiable state with hardly any effort going in to the upkeep of the institute.

Staff crunch

The SFL has a public analyst and a food analyst, one deputy public analyst, three assistant public analyst. Many positions are yet to be filled. It has only 10 analytical staff despite a sanctioned strength of 20. Same is the case with the post of attendants.

Interestingly enough, while there are no secretarial staff at all, the SFL has a computer but without any operator. The SFL headquartered at Chandigarh looks after the drugs and food samples of 16 districts while, the SFL at Karnal does it for remaining five districts of the state. The situation at Karnal is no better either, officials held.

Take all samples: Vij

Meanwhile, health minister Anil Vij on Thursday directed the state food and drug administration to take samples of all kind of food items as well as drinks and get these tested so as to check for adulteration. Presiding over a high level meeting of FDA here, he said that as there was no laboratory of high standard in the state to check food samples, the two laboratories of the state located at Chandigarh and Karnal would be modernised and upgraded.

Also, four new such laboratories would be set up at Gurgaon, Panchkula, Bhiwani and Hansi. Apart from this, there was also a proposal to set up a laboratory to test Ayurvedic medicines. He said that an action plan had been prepared to further enhance the efficiency of senior drug control officers (SDCOs) and drug control officers (DCOs), under which, no officer would continue to function for more than a year at one station. They would be transferred every year so as to maintain their efficiency and honesty.

Chandigarh, Anil Vij, PGIMER, food laboratory, Maggi, news, hindustantimes

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