Food adulteration: HC wants food testing labs functional by July 11

Food adulteration: HC wants food testing labs functional by July 11
Asif Iqbal
Srinagar, June 10: The Jammu and Kashmir high court has directed government to make food testing laboratories at Srinagar and Jammu functional by providing required manpower under Food Safety and Standard Act of 2006 by July 11.
“Respondent State has to forthwith initiate action in setting up testing laboratories, as directed by the Court, one at Srinagar and one at Jammu. We hope and trust that before next date, two laboratories would be made functional,” a division bench of the court comparing Justice Muzffar Hussain Attar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey while hearing a suo-moto PIL.
“The recruitment shall he made on fast track basis and as for as possible appointments made before the next date of hearing. The laboratories shall be fully equipped to make them functional,” the bench said. It also directed that Mobile Vans shall also be purchased and put to service before July 11.
In another direction, the court granted time till July 11 to all those food companies who are yet to file to file an undertaking which was modified by the Supreme Court recent that in case the company’s food items were found adulterated, it was liable to be face action as provided under law instead of sealing their units.
The High Court had earlier asked the traders’ to give an undertaking that if prima facie, the food items supplied by them were found to be adulterated then their units would be liable to be sealed.
Last month, the Chief Secretary B R Sharma accompanied by other senior officers admitted before the court that the FSSA 2006 has not been implemented in the manner it had to be implemented in the state.
Sharma said that he will immediately take review of the all aspects concerning the implementation of the FSSA.
He had also assured that without waiting for the financial assistance from the government of India, funds for setting up technologically advanced laboratories both at Jammu and Srinagar would be immediately provided by the state and the labouratories will be established shortly and that amobile testing labs will be provided to the concerned department and the authorities created in terms of legislation would also be put in place shortly.
In his suggestions, the amicus curie had sought details regarding district-wise number of recognized scientific food-testing laboratories with requisite machinery and equipments, staff strength as well number of Food Safety Analysts along with their qualifications.
He had also demanded government to reveal names of the food safety officers, composition of the food safety appellate tribunal along with the identity of its adjudicating officers.
To curb the menace of food adulteration, he had also demanded that there must be scientific or advisory Committees at Central level.
In the report filed by through undersecretary Bilal Ahmad, the H&ME submitted there are two Food Testing laboratories across the state: one at Dalgate Srinagar and other at Patoli Mangotrian, Jammu (but none satisfying the requirement under the FSSA).