Food Department constantly on lookout for wrongdoers: Velu
The Food Department, in coordination with the Health department and local bodies, will ensure that those selling food items beyond expiry date are punished as per law, Food Minister E.V. Velu said on Tuesday.
Answering a special call attention motion in the Assembly, he said there were enough legal provisions to bring culprits to book. The Food Department was constantly on the lookout for wrongdoers and had installed hotlines and dedicated phone lines (for instance 2859 2828 in Chennai) for people to register their complaints. Mr. Velu said apart from taking stringent action, the department had also embarked on a massive awareness campaign, targeting high school and college students. The aim was to create awareness among students and make sure that they carried the message home.
P.K. Sekar Babu (AIADMK) said the news of seizure of expired food from a warehouse, immediately after the recovery of medicines past their expiry date, came as a shock. The poor were most affected from such sales. He demanded invoking of the National Security Act against those indulging in such acts.
Peter Alphonse (Congress) pointed out that the issue had come to light a month ago when a child developed serious ailments after it was given powdered milk. It was imperative to appoint an apex body to monitor the situation.
A post of food safety commissioner should be created, besides making food inspectors' job full time. There should be no confusion on who should take action when issues like this came to light.
T. Velmurugan (PMK) said most food inspectors shied away from inspecting stores of multi-national companies and huge chains. The local bodies too did not take action against them. Pointing to the prevalence of adulteration of tea, he said the government should take effective action against such persons.
C. Mahendran (CPI-M) said even if someone was arrested under the provisions of law, they came out on bail very soon. This issue should be addressed.
V. Sivapunniyam (CPI) and Sathan Tirumalaikumar (MDMK) wanted health and food departments to act in unison to prevent such instances in future.
D. Ravikumar (VCK) said food and health departments should also check packaged drinking water marketed across the State.