Local administration has failed to check the sale of adulterated food items — particularly edible oil and ghee — in the district, with over 40 per cent of food samples collected by the health department having failed quality test in the past five months.
Of the eight samples of edible oil collected in the last two months, five have failed the quality test.
“Vendors get these products at cheaper rates and sell it at cheaper rates. Adulterated ghee is available at around ` 80-100 per kg and it is later sold at ` 300-400 per kg. We have sent a few samples of these items in the last two months and most of them have failed the quality test,” said district health officer Mohan Singh.
He said sesame oil is mixed in edible oil and then sold as ghee.
TWO GHEE BRANDS FOUND UNSAFE
Two ghee brands — Danveer and Keshav — have been found to be unsafe for consumption due to presence of sesame oil in them.
Regular consumption of sesame oil may even lead to cancer and skin-related allergies, say experts. The district health department has not issued any notice to the vendors to stop the sale of these products.
Though poor underground water was seen as the main reason behind the rising cases of cancer, health officials say that adulterated food items also contribute to the disease and other health-related issues.
“Despite the fact that RO ( reverse osmosis) systems have been installed in almost all areas across the district, a number of people have been diagnosed with cancer here. It is due to the consumption of adulterated food items,” said Anil Middha, a local chemist.
Moreover, collecting food samples proves be an uphill task for health department officials due to alleged political interference.
Food safety officer Charanjeet Singh was recently transferred after he blew the lid off rampant sale of adulterated food items in the district.
If officials are to be believed, he was transferred as some retailers and vendors got him removed through their political masters. “He was strict and did not spare the wrongdoers. For obvious reasons, he had to face the wrath of the establishment. He was shifted simply because many retailers were finding it difficult to sell spurious products,” said a health department official.
It has been learnt that a senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader from Bathinda allegedly owns a factory which is under the scanner for supplying adulterated edible oil.
Not only this, the district health officer was roughed up by local retailers after he had visited a shop to collect food samples. The police allegedly struck a compromise between the accused and the victim.
“Collecting samples is a risky proposition in this district. I have faced resistance from locals several times,” informed district health officer Dr Mohan Singh.