• Madhya Pradesh FDA gets ‘retailer friendly’

    At a time when food safety is becoming a household concern, Madhya Pradesh Food and Drugs Administration (MP-FDA) is lowering its guard. A new food sample collection policy aims to ‘avoid harassment of retailers/producers’ and ‘follow standards as in developed countries’, according to an MPFDA official.

    As a result, food adulterators are now more unlikely to get penalised. “Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Act is based on concept of allowing offenders a chance to reform. It would avoid undue harassment of businesses and inspectors will not collect samples without written permission,” said MP-FDA joint director Pramod Shukla.

    The agency’s preparedness was exposed last year. During a national-wide sample collection called for by FSSAI following the Maggie controversy, MPFDA was the body that could not send test reports twice in stipulated time. “You have to think from the perspective of a retailer or businessman. A customer will not return if he or she finds the product unsuitable,” said Shukla. In 2015, MP-FDA collected estimated 20,000 samples and only 9 samples were found unsafe for human consumption.

    Now two out of every three samples collected by FDA inspectors to determine food safety of product will not be liable to legal prosecution and only collected for surveillance. Making sample collection even more difficult, the FDA has further tied the hands of the inspectors.

    Now, FDA inspectors cannot collect a sample without prior written permission from designate officer – the district chief medical and health officer (CMHO). “New provision will save the energy of our staff and reduce pressure on our laboratories,” he said. The target for each inspector is now to collect four legal samples a month and eight surveillance samples. The decision comes after a meeting of FDA officials in Delhi. 

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