R. Krishna Kumar

More than 50 per cent of samples tested were found to be adulterated

Rava, toor dal, moong dal and chilli powder were found to contain deadly substances

‘Appointed food analyst does not have the power to initiate legal action against erring traders’

MYSORE: The civic authorities have come under flak for not cracking down on food adulteration which is rampant in the city as is evident from the latest survey reports.

The Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) took samples from 38 shops and tested them. More than 50 per cent of the samples were found to be adulterated. Even the common tea was found to be contaminated with artificial colours. Common ingredients like rava, toor dal, moong dal and chilli powder were also found to be contain deadly substances.

What is disconcerting is that though adulteration is rampant, there has been no drive to curb the menace. The MGP has been taking sample surveys for many years and getting them tested in the laboratories and the results published every year underline the extent of adulteration. But adulteration continues unabated.

The authorities managed to appoint a food analyst in the Mysore City Corporation after the post had remained vacant for 16 years. According to C.V. Nagaraj and M.N. Ranganath of the MGP, it was only after various consumer groups in the city insisted that the food analyst was appointed in 1996.

This was initially perceived to be a step forward in the Mysore City Corporation’s drive to crack down on the adulteration menace. But it never got started. The reason cited by the Corporation authorities is that according to the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, the post of food analyst should be filled up on deputation of a competent person from the Department of Health and Family Welfare.

No case

But the MCC filled up the vacancy from within its staff members and hence was not empowered under the law to prosecute or book cases against the erring traders. As a result, not a single case has been filed in Mysore against food adulteration in the last 28 years, claim the NGOs.

The consumer forums in the city have called for appointment of a food analyst who is empowered under the law to initiate legal action and crackdown on the prevailing menace.

Small shops

The focus is on small shops as 400 samples of commonly used ingredients were collected from 38 shops across the city. These shops are situated in the backward or less developed areas of the city.

In the absence of food analysts even the food inspectors have been rendered unemployed in the MCC, according to the consumer forums. They pointed out that some food inspectors double up as sanitary inspectors in the absence of work, rendering their training irrelevant. Hence consumer groups have called on the civic authorities to take the issue seriously as it has a bearing on public health and initiate legal action against traders guilty of adulteration.