The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked the state food safety commissioners to carry out special surveillance and enforcement drives for milk and milk products ahead of the Holi festival season. With the upcoming Navratri season, the food safety authority has also asked state food safety commissioners to maintain “strict food safety vigilance” on food products such as buckwheat flour (kuttu atta), chestnut flour (Singhada atta) and banyard millet, among others, that are consumed during fasting. 

Referring to the ensuing festive season, the  food safety authority in its latest order said during this period, demand for milk and milk products such as khoya and sweets, among others, increases, as a result of which the motivation to adulterate such products to meet the rising consumer demand also increases. 

“In such a scenario, preventive action, including special surveillance and enforcement drives by Food Safety Officers and Designated Officers (especially at hotspots for such practices) under their respective jurisdictions can be an effective tool to curb such practices while ensuring safety of such products,” it stated in its order.

It has asked food safety officers  to keep a “strict vigil” on manufacture and sale of milk and milk products like khoya and sweets. It has also asked them to position Food Safety on Wheels (FSW) where available, “so as to ensure that such products are safe to consume and meet food products standards, while boosting consumer sentiment across the country.”

Meanwhile, in a separate advisory, FSSAI noted that many communities observe a fast during the festival season, which leads to higher demand for food items such as samvat rice, buckwheat flour, chestnut flour, fruits and vegetables, makhana, sabudana mix namkeen, and dry fruits, among others . 

“Unfortunately some unscrupulous food business operators exploit the surge in demand by resorting to adulteration and by selling stale and inferior quality products to maximise profits,” the food safety authority noted. 

It also flagged that the majority of food poisoning incidents during the Navratri festival season have been linked to the sale of old stock or unhygienically stored stocks of buckwheat flour (kuttu atta), among other reasons. 

As a proactive preventive measure, the food safety authority has asked commissioners of food safety of the states and UTs to exercise “strict food safety vigilance on the manufacture and sale of food items meant for consumption during the festival season. It has asked them to conduct frequent inspections and sampling of items consumed during the Navratri festive season.