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'Can't deal with food adulteration'

Say officials from Noida authority, even as usage of sub-standard items rises in festive season

Avoid sweetmeats and other milk products this festive season. It's not just about watching your weight. With Diwali a few days away, food adulteration has become rampant. Items such as khoya, mawa, paneer etc are the first casualties. Authorities in Noida acknowledge this fact. But officials allege nothing can be done as they are not equipped to handle the problem.



Officials from the food and civil supplies department say that most of these products are manufactured in far-flung and remote areas located 60-70 km from the Noida main city. "For conducting raids to stop adulteration, we need to go to such places. But we don't have government vehicles for that," said an official, on condition of anonymity.

Rough ride
"We were even assured that a vehicle would be given to us but we are still waiting for. The moment it comes to us, raids will be conducted and all the traders involved in such acts will be booked," he added. Though Noida food inspector AK Jaiswal avoided commenting on the issue, he cautioned consumers from buying adulterated products. "People should see to it that they don't fall into the trap of shopkeepers selling cheap products. They should rather buy from renowned places and check the quality thoroughly," he advised.

When the festive and marriage season merge, demand of sweet items and other milk products rises exponentially. From 30-40 tonnes in the summer months, it jumps to over 70 tonnes in this season. In a surprise check conducted five months ago by Noida's food and civil supplies department, it was found that more than 50 per cent of the samples collected from reputed shops failed the laboratory test. In all 75 food samples were sent for testing and the result showed that at least half of them were adulterated and sub-standard. Twelve FIRs were lodged and legal action was initiated.

What to do?
Meanwhile, consumers are aware, but say they have few choices. Romesh Kumar, a sector-62 resident said, "Cases of adulteration are more these days as the supply of milk products is less than half of the demand. But we are left with no option but to buy them as it is an important item in the kitchen during festive season."

Others suggested that consumer awareness drives should be organised at this time of the year to educate citizens on how to differentiate between good quality and adulterated food products. Several factories and offices have also stopped buying sweets for their employees during festivals. Organisations now prefer to give away dry fruits or other gift items.

Watch what you eat
Adulteration of food means cheating the consumer and poses a serious health risk. It is a punishable offence under the provisions of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. Such cases are decided within three months and the official can fine the culprit with a maximum of Rs 3 lakh and in case of adulteration, which is injurious to health the fine can be of a maximum of Rs 10 lakh.

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