Penalties from errant food companies up 23%: FSSAI

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 25, 2019

Sharp rise in number of civil, criminal cases, as per data from States and UTs

Penalties worth ₹32.58 crore have been realised from errant food business operators in 2018-19, up by about 23 per cent compared with realisations in 2017-18, according to data released by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Monday.

There was also a nearly 67 per cent rise in the number of cases where penalties were imposed on food companies in 2018-19 (12,734 cases) compared with the previous year, as per the data compiled by FSSAI on enforcement activities of food safety officers from States and Union Territories for 2018-19. In the previous year, penalties amounted to about ₹26.36 crore.

The regulator said there has been an improvement in the overall enforcement activities indicating better targeting of such efforts by States. About 1.06 lakh food samples were analysed by State food safety officers in 2018-19, which was nearly 7 per cent higher than 2017-18.

Of this, while 3.7 per cent (3,900) of the samples were found to be unsafe, 15.8 per cent were sub-standard and 9 per cent samples had labelling defects.

The food safety authority’s data also revealed that there was a 36 per cent rise in civil cases filed in 2018-19 (18,550 cases) over the previous year. There was an 86 per cent increase in criminal cases launched against food business operators in 2018-19 compared to the previous year.

“Since the conclusion of criminal cases takes time, a total of 5,198 cases were concluded during 2017-18 that included a backlog of previous years. During 2018-19, there have been 701 convictions in criminal cases,” FSSAI stated.

Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh were among the top 10 States which performed well in terms of enforcement parameters.

“Ten States that have performed poorly include Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Telangana, and Uttarakhand,” it added. It was noted that poorly performing States do not have full-time food safety officers and proper food testing laboratories.

Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, said, “More rigourous enforcement by States is essential to build public trust in food. FSSAI is working with States and UTs, particularly with weaker ones, in this regard. For this, FSSAI is increasing the capacity of State food laboratories and enabling use of private food labs for testing food samples. Enforcement efforts have to be better targeted and preceded by surveillance efforts to identify hotspots and problem areas”.

The food safety authority said that this is the first time that data was compiled for samples found as unsafe, substandard or with labelling defects separately. This is being done to enable State food safety authorities to take precise corrective and preventive action.

Published on November 25, 2019

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