Amritsar has the dubious record of failing highest number of food samples in Punjab. Though district health officials see this as a result of effective sampling of milk and food products, the fact remains that the residents’ health continues to be jeopardised.
A majority of establishments keep selling poor quality food items to maximise their profits. The sale of tobacco and tobacco-based products besides spurious and banned drugs finding their way into the market somewhere reflects the nonchalance of health officials concerned.
This as a whole is leading to instances of cancer, which has become a cause of concern for many. The city is also affected by the sale of sub-standard and hazardous food items, including synthetic milk and khoya. Hindustan Times spoke to district health officer Dr Shiv Karan Singh Kahlon what action is being taken in this connection.
It is said that Amritsar has the highest instance of failed samples in the state. Why is this so?
The failed food samples are a result of the non-compliance of norms by eateries and shops selling these items. Besides, Amritsar has the highest success rate as far as sampling of food products is concerned.
The health department carries raids on sweet shops only around Diwali. Why not throughout the year?
Raids are conducted throughout the year. But this exercise is intensified around the festival season keeping in view the increased demand for sweets and tendency of shopkeepers to compromise on quality to make more profits.
What measures are being taken to prevent the manufacturing and sale of adulterated milk and khoya?
Adulterated milk and khoya is often purchased from other districts around festival season, while these are prepared locally as well. Raids are conducted at sweetshops regularly while samples are taken to curb their sale.
Several canteens on GNDU campus and other educational institutions were found compromising on health and hygiene during raids conducted recently. What action has been taken against them?
Some of the samples collected from these canteens were found to be substandard while others were unsafe. A number of samples collected from GNDU canteens failed. Sanction has been sought from the government to initiate legal proceedings against them.
Despite ban, tobacco shops continue to operate around several educational institutions. What measures are being taken to curb the sale and purchase of tobacco in the city?
The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003, prohibits the vendors of tobacco products from displaying any advertisements that lure minors to smoke or consume tobacco or tobacco-based products in public. Our department has taken several gutkha samples, found containing tobacco. A sanction has been sought from the government to proceed legally against shop owners selling such products. The heads of various educational institutions too should join forces with us to fight the menace.