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Sale of unbranded spices, food items rampant in valley markets

Srinagar, Feb 4: With government failing to improve the manpower of Drug and Food Control Organisation (DFCO), violation of the food safety laws are rampant in various markets of Kashmir.

Food wing of the DFCO, which scrutinizes the quality of food in markets currently, has only 242 food officers across the state.
Of them, nearly 80 officers are designated entirely for the valley markets, who currently fail to cover a vast area deputed by to them, simultaneously.

 

Sources in the department claim that many districts in the valley have just one Food Safety Officer (FSO), deputed to check adulteration in many of markets his area.“Kupwara has only one Food Safety Officer to conduct market checking. Similarly, Bandipora lacks staff except one district officer,” they said.

Sources inform that currently 82 lakh outlets were registered with the DFCO in Kashmir region only.“There shall be at least one FSO in every market, so that food safety laws are strictly implemented,” they said.

Due to the manpower crunch and less market checking by the organisation, the sale of banned food items have flourished in many markets across the valley.

Taking an instance of Batamaloo market in Srinagar, one can see vendors having lined up themselves with their carts, who sell spices including Turmeric, Chilly, Saunf, and Coriander powder to the consumers.

All these adulterated spices are currently sold in loose form and have been banned for its adverse impact on the health of consumers’ years before.

The spices are kept in large, unbranded bags and sold loosely. They are about 50 percent cheaper when compared to the branded ones.

Similarly, others markets of valley particularly, Rainawari and Maharaja Bazar in Srinagar and other towns are also witnessing a massive business of the sale of unbranded spices.

Recently a laboratory examination of few samples taken by FSD revealed shocking results that a huge concentration of synthetic colours were added to spices like Chili, Saunf, Turmeric, Coriander powder and others.

For instance, the FSD found Sundan-3, a synthetic dye (chemical) in chili powder, Metanil Yellow, a non-permitted food colour, in Turmeric powder and Melchet Green, another harmful chemical, in Saunf.

These synthetic dyes, as per research, are highly carcinogenic if consumed over a period of time.

When contacted Commissioner Food Safety, Abdul Kabir Dar said the proposal of enhancing the manpower of the organsation was submitted to the government.“There shall be no compromise on the drives against the sale of banned food items. We are hoping to get adequate staff so that such drives are regularly and simultaneously held in every market of the valley,” he said.