Highlighting the fact that students of Panjab University (PU) are facing health problems due to the prevalence of unhygienic food and water across the campus, National Youth Association (NYA) has written to the health department of UT administration demanding the implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) act in the University campus.
The association has alleged about the absence of proper mechanism or lab testing system for the food and water on the campus which can ensure its quality for human consumption.
The spokesperson of the association has quoted Food and Safety Standards (Licensing and registration of food business) regulation, 2011, which mentions the medical examination of the food handlers/employees once a year by registered medical practitioner to ensure they are free from infectious, contagious and other communicable diseases and the record keeping of it.
However, compliance to this standard is not adhered, compromising the health of the students. The association has also written that although the FSSAI regulation asks to ensure the testing of relevant chemical and/or microbiological contaminants in food products and if there is no laboratory, it asks testing through NABL accredited/FSSA notified labs once in six months, no testing has been done in last many years on the campus.
In an RTI reply received by the association from the office of Dean Students Welfare (DSW), it is stated there is no in-house testing of foods, thus no food samples are collected. The RTI reply also mentioned the working hours are 9 am to 5 pm with 1:30 pm to 2 pm as lunch break; however hostels are visited beyond this period as per requirement for the checking.
Gagandeep Singh Lubana, campus president of NYA said “food and water quality in the hostel messes, canteens, market and student centre is not good. There are approximately 17 hostels which are home to thousands of students. Moreover, large number of students and visitors also visit Student Centre daily. Thus I believe, there should be regular testing of food.”
Sahil Jain, PU campus hosteller said, “Many hostellers have suffered due to the poor quality of food, not only in the hostels but at the students’ centre as well. The fact is that hostellers do not raise their voice against it and only student leaders keep submitting memorandums against the quality of food provided on the campus. But the authorities never take an initiative to check if the food is tested ever or not.
Another hosteller, Sarika Sharma said, “If the authorities would check the place where the food is cooked, they would not buy anything from there. Similar is the case in our hostels, no cleanliness is maintained and many a times hostellers complain of upset stomach.”