Did the corporation blow the chances of nailing a stale meat seller by playing the lone ranger?

It seems so. A senior official of the Food Safety Authority has come out against the recent seizure and sampling of 1000kg of suspected stale meat by the civic authorities. A senior official of the Food Safety Authority said the corporation officials didn’t have any legal authority for collecting food samples, calling it an “unauthorised act”.

Going by the provisions of the Food Safety Act, only a qualified food analyst can collect food samples. Certain mandatory procedures will also have to be followed for collecting statutory food samples. The samples collected in violation of the provisions of the Act will not have any legal backing.

“There are chances that such cases could fall flat in courts when the procedural formalities are flouted,” he said.

The corporation authorities had been inspecting hotels and collecting food samples by invoking the provisions of the Travancore-Cochin Public Health Act 1954.

But with the enactment of the Food Safety and Standards Act, only the Food Safety Authority officials can act and collect samples in these cases.

With the new legislation coming into play, the role of the civic authorities had been bracketed into checking sanitary and hygienic conditions in eateries, he said. Considering the legal implications of the Act, the corporation officials should share intelligence and plan joint operations for curbing the sale of low quality foodstuff in the city, he said.

The secretary of the Kochi Corporation wrote to the Food Safety Commissioner on Wednesday requesting the Authority to take up the case.

The officials of the Authority were sceptical about the outcome of the case as sampling was not done as prescribed by law.

A health official of the corporation said the meat samples were collected in the presence of a veterinary doctor of the civic body. The non-availability of the officials of the Food Safety Authority for collecting food samples had been a drag on the efforts of the civic body.

Recently, a health official and the chairman of the Health Standing Committee of the corporation had to wait at a hotel for nearly two hours for the Food Safety Authority officials to arrive and collect samples.

The Kochi corporation would take into account the concerns raised by the Food Safety Authority officials regarding sampling and seizure of stale food, the civic administrator said.

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