This Diwali, brace yourself to consume adulterated sweets and use counterfeit cosmetics as 85 per cent officials of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Maharashtra are busy with election duties and haven’t been able to carry out too many raids. According to sources, the officials will be busy till October 22, a day before Diwali.
Bittersweet Diwali? According to the FDA’s guidelines, sweetshop owners must buy their ingredients only from registered and licenced FSSAI vendors. During raids between October 15 and 19, the FDA seized adulterated flour, oil, ghee and imported chocolates worth Rs 1 crore. FILE PIC
The FDA has sanctioned 1,176 officials in the state, out of which 358 are yet to join. “Hardly any raids have been conducted on sweetshops to keep a check on adulterated dried milk (mawa), imported chocolates and grocery items such as edible oil, gram flour, semolina, milk and ghee,” a senior officer from FDA said on condition of anonymity.
The body issues guidelines for customers as well as shopkeepers about how to prepare sweets and buy ingredients for making sweets from only registered and licenced Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) vendors. Every year, the agency also carries surprise checks on several units of sweetshops, cosmetic items and also grocery shopkeepers. If adulterated items are found, shop owners are immediately booked and officials ensure that their products aren’t available in the market.
“Before Diwali, customers queue up to buy sweets and chocolates to gift others and grocery items to make several food items. As a lot of milk-based products are used to make sweets, we keep a tab on the quality of milk sold by shopkeepers. Cosmetic items such as luxurious soaps and make-up products are also presented as gifts. We at the FDA are responsible for keeping a tab on all. But sadly, this year we couldn’t be too proactive as we were saddled with election duties,” said an FDA source.
From the quality of milk, which is used to make sweets, to cosmetic items such as luxurious soaps and make-up products, the FDA is responsible for keeping a tab on all. pic for representational purpose
However, this year, when FDA officials were free from October 15-19, they carried out a special drive and seized adulterated goods worth Rs 1 crore. These include inferior-quality flour worth Rs 25 lakh, refined oil worth Rs 39 lakh, clarified butter (ghee) worth R47,000, vanaspati ghee Rs 11 lakh and imported chocolates worth Rs 11,000.
“We have also taken samples of around 125 cosmetics,” said Dr Purshottam Bhapkar, commissioner of Food and Drug administration and Food Safety of Maharashtra.
FDA gives tips
>> Suresh Annapure, joint commissioner, Mumbai, FDA, says mawa sweets should be consumed within 24 hours and Bengali sweets within eight hours
>> Buy sweets from registered or known stores where the chance of food poisoning are less
>> Take a purchase bill
>> When buying grocery, a label should have manufacture and expiry dates along with the price