INDIA – The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), the local government of the Indian city of Kolkata has launched a state-of-the-art food laboratory for examining the quality of food and water, a move that will see the city become self-independent in matters of adulteration tracing.

The civic body till date had to depend on central or private laboratories for examining the quality of food stuff. The world-class food laboratory has been put up on an area of 4,800 square feet where there is a microbiology section and room for modern instruments for facilitating research activities.

“We have plans of creating a section of molecular biology so that presence of any metallic substance in food can also be tested,” a senior official of Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s Health department stated.

The facility is equipped with apparatus that can determine adulteration in any kind of food stuff-raw or cooked meat, fish, egg or vegetables. It will also have the capacity to test for pesticides in soft drinks, as reported by The Times of India.

The KMC’s testing capabilities has in the past been limited by its current laboratory as it employs traditional methods of analysis. Complex studies cannot be done in this facility due to lack of infrastructure. Examination of presence of all types of bacteria in both food and water can be examined in this laboratory.

KMC may also allow private companies to use the modern infrastructure of its laboratory. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation has spent Rs 8 crore for the laboratory and the centre is expected to allocate another Rs 10 crore in later stage for purchasing more equipment.

Need for a  modern lab

The necessity of upgrading a KMC-run food testing laboratory was first  felt years ago following a pesticide controversy in the soft drinks produced by a grade 1 soft drinks company. A lab analysis of the sampled products affirmed these claims.

The move was also pushed by a stale meat scandal in city restaurants four years back.  In 2018, KMC’s top brass was presented a mobile food testing laboratory by the Union health ministry under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), to curb food adulteration in metropolitan cities.

The Food Safety and Drugs Administration (FSDA) kicked off a similar campaign in Meerut in April this year to ensure that adulterated food items are not sold in shops.

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