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Unsafe food market

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Food safety is neither a norm nor a priority in Kashmir. The Kashmir markets are flooded with unsafe and poor quality foods without any proper check. Almost 50 percent food items flowing in the market are substandard, posing serious threat to the health and hygiene of the people. This newspaper on Monday, reported quoting officials of Food Safety department, that there had been a disturbing increase in the sale and intake of misbranded food items in Kashmir. Out of the samples collected from the market, 50 per cent were either substandard or unsafe for consumption. In the last 10 months, official figures of the Food Safety Department reveal that out of 1,351 samples of different food items collected by food inspectors from the Kashmir division, 330 were found to be unsafe, 106 substandard, and 204 were misbranded. The harmful colouring agents like Carmoisine, Tartrazine, and sunset yellow are widely used in fast-foods. It is not something that the concerned officials stumbled upon. It is rather a norm in the food market but officials responsible for checking the quality of food rarely do their duties. There is rather a vicious nexus between the adulterers and state officials. The adulterers have neither fear of law nor the fear of Allah, the Almighty. The officials, on occasions, make market checks just to make news. Last year, during such checking 13 food outlets were found supplying substandard and poor quality food items in the market. Last month, the High Court stressed on the need for prohibitory measures for the strict implementation of Food Safety and Security Act, which essentially disallows food adulteration in the state. In 2016, a court in Srinagar found that the milk product supplied to Kashmir markets by a prominent Agro Farm was contaminated and very harmful for the health. The court also ordered the closure of the milk factory and imposed a fine of Rs. Nine lakh on it. The factory was found contaminating detergent powder, urea and other dangerous chemicals with the milk. The court findings and strictures revealed that it was an organized crime against humanity in which official authorities were equally involved. The most shocking is that these crimes are committed with quite deceptive appearances. Most of the adulterers could be found with long oily beards, trousers atop their ankles, scull-cap on their heads and Tasbih (rosary) in their hands and ‘SubhanAllah’, InshaAllah’ on their lips. But their deeds speak more than enough that they are devils in saints’ costumes. Such demeanour has become almost a fashion among a section of our business class to portray themselves as ‘servants of god’. To make their point, they display publicly their donations for mosques and charity organizations, who, in return, publicize them as “god’s people”. But delve deep into their deeds; they are Satan’s companions. Food adulteration is an old phenomenon in Kashmir. In fact doctors say the occurrence has recently seen a phenomenal rise, which has led to a rise in patients with gastric problems. They say that adulterated food is the basic reason behind the rise of cancers in Kashmir valley. These are virtually crimes against humanity where the perpetrators exhibit heart for going to any extent to make money—no matter if it meant killing people. In any responsible system such people would be booked for murderous conduct. But the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has time and again failed to check the standards of food products in the Valley. But one cannot hold responsible the government alone. We are all-people, politicians and media-sailing in the same boat. Chief Minister Mahbooba Mufti must treat this as God-given opportunity to demonstrate her will to clean the society from these rogues and criminals.