Chandigarh, October 22:

The Food Safety Wing of the Punjab Health and Family Welfare Department has taken 5297 samples of food items during the last seven months, out of which 1006 were found to be substandard and 74 unsafe/failed the food standards. Health Minister of Punjab Chetan Singh Jauramajra informed that strict action will be taken against the samples found unsafe/failed as Punjab Government was working on zero tolerance policy.

          While giving information, Mr. Jauramajra said that out of 820 samples taken during the month of April during the year 2022, 241 were found substandard and 18 were unsafe/failed. Similarly, out of 570 samples in the month of May, 91 were found substandard and 5 were unsafe/failed. During June, 582 samples were taken, out of which 111 substandard and 17 samples were found unsafe/failed. He said that out of 525 samples taken during the month of July, 111 and 3 samples were found unsafe/failed. Similarly, during the month of August, out of 1016 samples, 332 were found to be substandard while 22 samples were found to be unsafe/failed. He said that during the month of September, out of 800 samples, 120 were found to be substandard and 9 samples were found unsafe/failed. He said that 984 samples have been taken so far during the month of October, which have been sent to the laboratory for testing and reports were awaited.

          Mr. Jauramajra said that Food Safety Wing of Food and Drug Administration Punjab was leading an awareness campaign to provide quality food items to the people of Punjab. The Department of Food Safety was also committed to provide safe and healthy food to people under its slogan “If it is not safe then it is not food”. He said that keeping the festive season in mind, the Food Safety Wing has launched a special campaign to check the adulteration of silver foil on sweets, under which 164 samples of sweets including silver foil have been taken across Punjab which have been sent to Kharar lab. Legal action will be initiated under the Food Safety Act against the failed samples.

          Although consumption of food items with synthetic colors pose a high risk to one’s health and consumers need to be more aware while purchasing such food items. FSSAI has prescribed limit in PPMs (parts per million) for permitted colours. All FBOs have been instructed to stick to the FSSAI guidelines regarding use of food colors. Moreover in this Diwali season food safety wing is also proactively restricting the sale of stale or rotten dry fruits, which are normally packed and consumer is not able to check their freshness while purchasing.

          The Cabinet Minister said that rules have been made under the Food Safety and Standards Act for taking action against unsafe or failed samples, under which substandard and misbranded cases will be referred to the courts of ADCs of respective district, which have a provision for imposing penalties. Apart from this, provision has also been made for filing cases against unsafe or failed samples in judicial courts which would be awarded fines and punishments.

          Mr. Jauramajra said that in view of the festival season, the Food Safety Wing has formed inter-district teams in different districts and random checks were being done to stop food adulteration. He said that the priority of the Punjab government was to provide clean and pure unadulterated food and drink to the people, for which no stone will be left unturned.

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