Vigilance raid: Stale state of food safety department unveiled

Vigilance raid: Stale state of food safety department unveiled465849386
Representational image.

Thiruvananthapuram: Vigilance raids on Food Safety Department offices across state have unearthed widespread irregularities.

Inaction on several cases of food adulteration where samples were collected, imposition of fines as meager as Rs 1,000 on offences that invited Rs 5 lakh fines, suppression of hotel license applications, non availability of officers until noon are some of the many irregularities found. The investigation revealed that some officers had taken monthly bribes from hotels.

Proof that headlines which indicated that stale food was constantly caught from small eateries were planted was also unearthed. It was the first-of-a-kind vigilance raid on food safety department in state.

‘Operation Janaraksha’ was initiated after a tip-off to Vigilance Director S Anil Kanth. 42 offices across state were raided.

Raid at the office near general hospital in the capital revealed that 484 out of 680 complaints received until 2019 were not acted upon. Reports on 1,328 samples were not received since 2012. Reports on 83 out of 88 samples collected by Chirayinkeezhu office in the last two years were not collected.

Offices in Kannur, Malappuram, Adoor and Aranmula were found to have imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 to 25,000 when the offense could have attracted Rs 5 lakh. Officers were unavailable even at 11am in Neyyattinkara. The office in Ponkunnam was not even open at that time. An ice plant was working without license here for the last two years. No report was submitted in adulterated milk case. A detailed report will be submitted soon, Anil Kanth said.

A few cases of rice grain adulteration was also not acted upon.On one hand, no action has been taken on a five year old case from Chittoor. On the other hand, no samples were collected this year. Samples were not sent for testing from 2013 onwards. 39 out of 55 cases registered have had no outcome. In Kannur, the samples are stored in the office. Around 80 license applications have not been addressed. Even the samples to be subjected to mandatory testing in the period 2014-17 have not been looked at in Kondotty.