Mar 02, 2012 at 09:55am IST

Food Safety Act hits roadblock

KOCHI: The state government, which has set August as the deadline to fully implement the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) 2006, is confronted with various constraints like resource crunch, staff shortage and lack of infrastructure, which are making it hard to set the ball rolling.
“Though the Food Safety & Standards Act (FSSA) 2006, came into force on August 5 last year, the government has been in a transition period, with the hope of implementing the Act in totality by August this year. However, at the pace the government is moving, it seems unlikely that the Act will be fully implemented on time,” sources in the office of the Commissioner of Food Safety, said.
They said that if things moved at the present pace, then it would take another year to implement the Act in the state.
“One of the major constraints is the severe shortage of adequate staff and law enforcement officials,” sources said and added that even the Food Safety Commissioners, who have to be of secretary rank, are yet to be appointed. Those who are now at the top post have been given only additional charges, they pointed out.
Only a separate person appointed at the top will be able to co-ordinate with the various departments, they said.
The district offices are also facing the same issues. “There are hardly five to six persons, including the officer, to deal with nearly 10,000 licensees in a district,” they said.
There are no accredited labs in the state for testing the food samples.
“Proposals for upgrading the analytical labs have been put forth and we hope this will be done at the earliest,” Joint Food Safety Commissioner Anil Kumar said.
Sources said that the three analytical labs in the state are non-functional and have neither the equipment nor the technical manpower to conduct the validation of food additives.
They also said that no judicial officials have been appointed till now as part of the FSSA 2006. Appellate tribunals, adjudicating officers and special courts, which are important elements of the Act, have not been formed yet, they said. Moreover, there is no standardised equipment for the collection of food samples, all of which is contributing to the delay.