By Firdous Hassan
Srinagar, May 22: The Food Safety Department on Tuesday issued an advisory regarding the sale of poor quality, unpacked dates in the valley during Ramadan.
Assistant Food Safety Officer, Srinagar, Hilal Ahmad Mir, told The Kashmir Monitor that their teams toured various markets in the last one week before issuing the order.
“There are possibilities that the unpacked dates can turn unhealthy due to the heat. The advisory will guide the people on checking the quality of dates,” he said.
Mir said the department recovered dates infested by insects and bacteria.
“Often, we see that dates contain spores, larvae and other insects in them. We advise people to consume dates only after checking a few samples of it,” he said.
Mir said the department has also set up a helpline to oversee complaints of unhygienic eatables sold in the market during Ramadan.
In various markets of the valley, a variety of unpacked dates are being sold by the vendors, usually laced with silver foil to attract customers.
Unmindful of the health complications, the vendors keep the dates exposed to weather, dust, and flies.
Sources said that majority of the traders here were selling the dates that are not fresh and stocked for a couple of months.
“These dates are being imported in bulk and kept in stores without any prevention from flies or rodents. Even as a less number of people consume unpacked dates, many who are financially weak do buy them,” they said.
Sources said a huge quantity of these unpacked dates was transported to various markets of the valley.
During the month of Ramadan, the demand for dates in Kashmir is exponentially high as people use them to break their fasts.
Every year, dates worth more than Rs15 crore are consumed in Kashmir. These are imported from many states of India and countries like Pakistan and Gulf.