Delhi has recently become one of the many cities to report a lapse in food quality control. Whether it is the food – more specifically, sugar and rice – we buy at our local grocer or the one we eat at a restaurant (looking at you, KDH), more often than not we are at the risk of being subjected to a bunch of quality breaches.
But the Aam Aadmi Party has stepped up to save the day, and our health, by tying up with NABL accredited private laboratories that assure quality and a computerized and more organized system of giving the reports. Up till now, Delhi had just one government lab that would test food samples. The Delhi government teamed up with these labs in February.
“It is a force multiplier for the government. With the one lab and limited man-power, it was just not possible for us to cover entire Delhi. Now we will be able to do 20 times as many tests we were previously conducting,” said Dr Mrinalini Darswal, Delhi’s food safety commissioner. This will also resolve the constant lack of staff in the food safety department.
“There are not food safety officers to monitor every food vendor in Delhi. Currently there are 16 officers against 32 sanctioned posts and even that is not enough. Partnering with these labs we would be able to pick up more samples and it is as good as having 19 functioning food safety labs,” said Darswal.
How Will This Work?
“The labs get paid R 5,000 per sample for collection and testing, this is the rate fixed by the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India). We have tried this method for some time now, which is why we were able to conduct the emergency inspections of the mid-day meal kitchen efficiently,” said Dr Darswal.
These labs would, however, be authorized to pick up only surveillance samples. “After the reports of the surveillance samples come in, we will be able to pin point 2 or 3 vendors whose samples fail. Our food safety officers can then go to these shops and collect a legal sample, which is a tedious procedure and is time-consuming,” said Darswal.
Delhi got a shocking wake up call regarding the on-going breach in food safety earlier this year when the food safety department started a drive to check all the mid-day meal kitchens on February 20 after nine children fell ill at a Delhi government school after consuming food that had a dead rat in it.
Source: Hindustan Times
Feature Image: unichecklabs