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Prosecution is a must for control
India has a very strong law on food safety that sets down food standards and dispenses heavy penalties on infringers. The Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 includes specifications for ingredients, contaminants, pesticide residue, biological hazards, labels and others. In short, it takes all possible measures that are required to ensure safety of food in the market. Yet, it is common knowledge that people die consistently in India due to drinking adulterated milk, go blind or get paralyzed due to drinking adulterated alcohol and children are regularly taken ill with food poisoning after consuming mid-day meals at school, supplied by the government! Even temples are not safe (they are, after all, managed by humans), as devotees are taken ill or poisoned due to some adulterant.
Despite the fact that we have stringent laws to deal with it – hardly anybody is ever punished or prosecuted! The biggest culprits of these malpractices are food contractors and suppliers, to whom government agencies place their orders. These contracts are low on transparency and reek of the kind of corruption that has plagued almost every government department across the country. Even spurious drugs are rampant, especially in smaller towns and cities; where curbs are even more conspicuous by absence.
Adulteration is a menace that can only be clamped down by strict policy controls. India should learn from the Chinese example. The Chinese government executed a dairy farmer and a milk salesman in November last year for supplying tainted milk. These two men had tried to augment their profits by selling melamine-laced milk powder that led to the deaths of 6 children and affecting a whopping 300,000. Besides, the Chinese authorities have punished various people accused in several incidents involving food adulteration that included drug-tainted fish, industrial dye used to colour egg yolk red and pork tainted with banned feed additives in the last one year. In India, such cases are largely overlooked. The law is strong, but implementation has to be even stronger.
By:- Sayan Ghosh
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