Commissioner of Food Safety Biju Prabhakar has issued orders placing food safety officers V.K. Pradeepkumar and Biby Mathew, attached to the Pattambi circle and the Shoranur municipality respectively, under suspension for letting off a food business operator (FBO) after allegedly accepting a bribe.
The orders were issued following preliminary evidence that they had deliberately violated procedural requirements for seizing an article of food under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), in connivance with an FBO so that no action could be initiated against the latter.
The FBO had been detained for bringing in palm kernel oil from across the border, suspected to be an adulterant for coconut oil, a press note issued by the office of the Commissioner said.
The officials had detained a tanker lorry transporting palm kernel oil at the Walayar check-post on December 5. It was an inter-State stock transfer from Kaleeswary Refinery Pvt. Ltd., Chennai to their depot in Palakkad.
The safety officials allegedly did not take the surveillance samples from the detained lorry as per the relevant provisions of the FSSA.
Also, the mahassar was prepared without any independent witnesses signing the document.
Procedural requirements under the Act such as issuing a seizure memo and getting the FBO to execute a bond had been violated, the press note said.
To hide all procedural irregularities, an affidavit was made in connivance with the FBO by purchasing a stamp paper on December 6. The affidavit was but executed with the date as December 5. Unlike in previous occasions, the detained vehicle was released without consulting higher authorities, the Commissioner’s press note added.