The samples of 700-kg khoya, seized by a team of the health department on October 14, failed to clear a laboratory test and declared adulterated by the department authorities on Friday. However, the department is yet to specify on the amount and type of adulteration.
Confirming the report, health department authorities said that they were yet to receive the final report from the Chandigarh-based laboratory that had conducted the test.
“All branded and big shops are also under the health department's radar for adulteration,” said district health officer Dr Harsh Malhotra.
Dr Malhotra further said spurious food could be categorised in three categories - unsafe, adulterated and unfit for human consumption - depending on the type and amount of synthetics mixed.
The health officials, however, see sudden surge in demands of sweets and confectioneries in the wake of festive season as main reason behind adulteration in food items.
“Shopkeepers try to cash in on this opportunity for making big profits, and thus, often indulge in adulteration that cast adverse impact on our health,” said the officials.
With an objective to safeguard people from falling prey to spurious food items an intensive drive was already launched and, they said, surprise raids on sweet shops were being conducted.
The authorities said that they had been keeping tight vigil at railway station and bus stand to prevent spurious milk and milk products from entering the city.
“Every month the department collects 50 samples on an average, but with the festive season round the corner, the teams have been asked to be on their toes and more vigilant,” said the district health officer.
Last year the department had collected as many as 538 samples of milk products and sweets, of which 40 proved synthetic and adulterated, divulged Dr Malhotra, adding that the cases of the last year were still facing prosecution.
The collected samples are sent to Chandigarh for the laboratory test. The testing period at the laboratory varies between 15 to 20 days.
Possible health hazards
Principal of Government Rajendra Medical College Dr KD Singh:
Adulterated foods may affect our health severely by damaging immune, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. Acute vomiting and dehydration caused due to consumption of spurious food items that make the body weak. Above all, nervous disorders and cancer can also be caused if adulterated by carcinogen containing food substance.
What the law says?
The Food Safety and Standards Act provides for punishments for three circumstances - substandard, misbranded and unsafe.
Substandard: Presence of a foreign particle in a product like dust and water in milk.
Penalty: Rs 5 lakh
Misbranded: When seller uses name of other company/brand on else's product.
Penalty: Rs 3 lakh
Unsafe: When consumption of a food item makes consumers sick, it is declared as unsafe for consumption.
Penalty: Rs 10 lakh or minimum imprisonment of six months (depends on severity of the case) or life term if consumption results in death.
The substandard food sample cases are registered at the court of additional district magistrate whereas the unsafe sample cases are registered at the court of chief judicial magistrate.
In October, the health department seized 700-kg khoya and collected other 45 samples of various food items. Most of the samples collected were milk products.
In 2012, a total of 475 samples collected, of which 15% failed to clear lab test.
45 samples are yet to be tested
40 cases of prosecution still pending
The department is likely to collect `3lakh from the prosecuted cases
I make sweets at home only, as there is no point in buying from market. Because big or small, all sweet makers mix synthetics in food items
Harpinder Kaur, a Delite Colony resident
The administration should be more vigilant and conduct more raids. They must not spare big sweet makers, as big fish always get away
Pramod Kumar, a Arora Street resident
Awareness drives in schools and colleges should be increased to sensitise students to do away with spurious food items
Baldev Singh, a Behra road resident
Heavy penalty should be imposed on the sweet makers found guilty of adulteration to prevent other sweet makers to toe the line
Gurdarshan Singh Dhaliwal, a Passi road resident