Telugu States lack will to curb food and drug adulteration

PA Rama Rao

Enactment of a law providing for highly deterrent punishment for food and drug adulterators, appointment of adequate staff  in the departments entrusted with enforcement of the laws relating to food safety, periodic inspections to detect cases of food and drug adulteration, and also proper checks on the staff of these departments to ensure that they would not collude with the offenders, are the urgent measures needed to be taken in both the Telugu States, to curb the social evil and save the people from health hazards.

These measures are inevitable and should be implemented immediately in view of the fact that adulteration of milk, foods, chilli powder, oils, ghee and even medicines has been on the increase, as is evident from the cases being detected in the recent past. People are getting afflicted with many kinds of diseases because of use of contaminated milk, adulterated food stuffs, vegetables and even fruits. 

Instances of food adulteration and people getting sick because of substandard drugs are not new. The media has been reporting the health hazards associated with consumption of adulterated food from time to time. Unfortunately, however, the successive governments, as well as the elected representatives, have failed to take effective remedial measures. Worse, they are content with making eloquent statements about curbing the menace. Some State governments, like West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, have enacted stringent laws to curb food adulteration. Among deterrent punishments are life imprisonment and severe penalties. It’s time the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments enact similar laws and enforce the same in an effective manner.

 In the winter session of Telangana State Legislative Assembly and the Council in 2014, members had expressed serious concern over the sale of adulterated milk in Hyderabad city. Members had pointed out that production and sale of spurious milk  is a social evil and the government should take stringent action against those indulging in making and selling spurious milk. The then Minister for Health Dr T Rajaiah had revealed, to the shock of the members and the general public, that out of the 32  samples of milk of various brands collected and analyzed under the provisions of Food Security and Standards Act, 11 were found substandard and cases had been booked against the companies. The minister also said that the milk samples analyzed  were found to have contained detergents, chemicals, hydro-peroxide, animal fats, paints, salmonella and so on which caused many ailments like gastro-enteritis, stomach ache, typhoid.

Media reports had also stated that on the city outskirts and in some places in the old city, production and sale of synthetic milk have almost become a cottage industry. Analysis had also shown that in some brands, out of one litre of milk, the actual milk content was only 100 millimeters, while 900 millimeters were adulterated and laced with chemicals, shampoos, urea and animal fats.

Adulteration is not confined to milk only.  In recent times, shocking reports of large scale manufacture of spurious chilli powder, pepper and some other spices and even dals have appeared in the media. It is said that some chemicals are being injected into vegetables and fruits to  give them an attractive appearance and prolong their shelf life. 

Needless to say, the two Telugu States should take immediate remedial measures to curb the scourge of adulteration of food stuff, oils and other essentials to save the people from serious health problems.  –NSS

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