Minister for Health V.S. Sivakumar has said the government machinery under the Commissioner of Food Safety to ensure strict enforcement of food safety norms in the food market is being further strengthened.

Replying to a calling-attention motion from Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) member M. Ummer in the Assembly on Tuesday, the Minister said 57 new posts would be created immediately in the department to strengthen the inspection wing to detect violations of food safety standards by merchants, hoteliers, and food vendors.

Mr. Ummer had pointed out that the department now had only 83 employees to cover the whole of the State and the staff strength was grossly inadequate.

The Minister said the department’s three regional laboratories in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Kozhikode were being fully utilised to test food samples collected during surprise raids on hotels and eateries and also from merchants dealing in essential commodities.

In addition, the facilities of other recognised testing centres too were being utilized. He said the stipulations in the act governing food safety standards were being enforced in a phased manner.

The entire machinery required strengthening. That was being done step by step in a focused manner.

Kerala was essentially a consumer State depending on large import of all articles of day to day use such as vegetables, poultry, eggs, milk, and meat.

Therefore, the State’s food safety enforcement wing was drawing help from its counterparts in the neighbouring States to ensure the efficient enforcement of safety norms with respect to the articles brought here across the inter-State borders.

Mr. Sivakumar said the department had received 1,107 complaints on this subject during the last six months.

The department conducted raids on 3,245 hotels and eateries during the last six months and had given ‘improvement notice’ to 1,900 of them, besides taking action against several others found lacking in attention on the basic norms in ensuring that the food they served was safe.

The department had also conducted over 3,000 awareness programmes among roadside food vendors and others to ensure the supply of hygienic and safe food to customers.

Keywords: Food Safety