The “high fee” charged by laboratories for testing food samples is deterring Food Safety officials from extensively collecting them, complain food safety officials.
Though the Food Safety Authority of India has suggested that samples should be tested at Rs.1000, many labs are charging a much higher fee, said K. Ajithkumar, district Food Safety Officer.
The agency has to spend a huge amount for testing even a few sardines procured from the open market.
“The labs are charging unaffordable fee, which forces the department to limit the collection of samples. The directorate of Food Safety may take up the issue of lab fee with the authorities,” he said.
This week, the agency had ordered the closure of a few ice plants in the district following the use of chemically contaminated water for making ice.
The agency is awaiting the test results of ice samples from a few laboratories for follow-up action.
The future course of action would be spelt out after obtaining the lab results, he said.
At the same time, scientists of a Central institute in Kochi where chemical analysis of food and water samples were regularly held, said that they were collecting only a part of the expense incurred for such tests.
Most of the tests are carried out using high-end machines and costly chemicals. Quality test done for fish would cost Rs. 500 a sample.
If the fish samples are to be subjected for profiling of fatty acids and amino acids, the testing fee could be around Rs.7,000 for a sample.
There are high-end protocols fixed for chemical testing of samples. Some of the chemicals required for these experiments are highly expensive. Hence the high fee, said a scientist.
The lab charges around Rs.1,200 for performing potable water quality analysis where 44 parameters are assessed.
If the pesticide content in water samples is to be investigated, the fee would go up to Rs.3,500 per sample. An ampoule of the chemical used for such tests costs around Rs.12,000, he said.
The fee for testing various samples is fixed by price fixing committees of the institutions. It would be the cost of chemicals and expenditure on machines that would come up for consideration while fixing the lab fee, he said.
Though the Food Safety Authority of India says samples should be tested at Rs.1,000, many labs are charging a much higher fee.