INDIA – Tests conducted on various food items by Chandigarh administration’s Food Safety and Standards Department in India has revealed that the items are below the set quality standards.

Over the past year, the food safety department took about 200 samples of various food products from the market. Five of 13 cottage cheese (paneer) samples, four mustard oil samples, three fresh vegetable samples, and two milk samples failed the quality tests.

The Department uncovered some of the adulterants used in milk to include water, urea, detergent and neutralizer while fresh vegetables contained contaminants such as synthetic colour and insecticides/pesticides.

The Director of Health Services at UT, Dr Suman Singh, noted that the mustard oil sample was either adulterated with a low-quality oil or contained a synthetic colour.

The department has lodged complaints and the matter has been taken up by the concerned authorities, according to The Indian Express.

It has urged consumers to be cautious and ensure that they purchase food items from licensed shops that maintain hygiene and use quality products.

It also requested people to report stores that aren’t following proper hygiene or if they notice any other aberrations.

“Residents should ensure that they purchase food items from licensed shops which observe complete hygiene and use quality products so that their health is not harmed. In case consumers observe anything suspicious, they may report the matter to the department of food safety and standards, Government Multi- Specialty Hospital, Sector 16,” said UT Health Secretary Yashpal Garg.

As a counter measure, the Food Safety department is running mobile food testing lab across the city where people can get the quality of food items checked and get suggestions for nutritious and healthy food.

“Residents are appealed to take advantage of this service and get the food articles like milk, edible oil, paneer, jaggery, turmeric, khoa, etc. checked for Rs 20 per test,” UT said.

The city has in the past recorded similar failed food quality tests with the record spiking during festivals, a matter of grave concern.

In 2015, UT’s Food Safety and Standards Authority survey revealed that one in every 10 food items consumed in Chandigarh is adulterated. These samples were either adulterated or misbranded by the food safety administration.

In 2018, its neighboring State Punjab reported that over 40% of food samples collected in a span of two months were unsafe for human consumption.

A total of 2,452 samples of different food products were collected in August and September and were analyzed at the state government’s forensic laboratory in Kharar. Out of this, 1,003 (40.90%) samples were found to be adulterated.

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