Palakkad: Outdated atta (wheat flour) remaining in ration shops is burdening the civil supplies department. The huge cost of destroying the atta is presenting a headache to the department.

Ove 30 per cent of the 14,302 ration shops in the state have stocks of outdated atta in them. The trader's organisations have come forward demanding to remove the outdated atta but no action has been taken yet.

Ration card holders except APL are given three kilograms of atta every month. The traders say that the civil supplies department is not ready to ensure the quality of atta. The one kilogram packets of atta must be used within three months of packing. However, these packets reach the ration shops around one and a half months after they are packed. Soon, they become outdated and useless. There are traders who sell out outdated packets of atta on which the date of packing is not clearly printed.

“One-kilogram packet of atta is being sold for Rs 17. The trader must pay Rs 15 per packet beforehand. From the two rupees a trader earns as commission, 20 paise will be taken in the next month’s billing. So to avoid huge loss, the traders have no choice but somehow to sell it off,” a traders said about selling outdated atta.

If a consumer, who buys the outdated atta, files a complaint with the food safety department, it is the traders who has to face the consequences.

Bringing more atta to ration shops than what is required is another reason behind overstocking and wastage. There was an incident where the license of a ration shop in Kodungallur was revoked for refusing to take surplus amount of atta as directed.

Companies that produce food products are responsible for taking back their outdated products. But even now, the civil supplies department does not have a system to take back such outdated products from ration shops. In different districts, private mills produce the atta for public distribution.

According to the civil supplies department officials, the amount of atta is allotted to a ration shop on the basis of monthly sales. The traders are advised to sell out as much as possible. At present three is no system to take back outdated atta, the officials added.