Kerala failed to comply with food safety rules, says CAG report

JS Manoj

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found that Kerala has failed to comply with the Food Safety Act. The observations made in the CAG’s interim audit report published in July becomes relevant when the state has been reporting several cases of food poisoning. The functioning of the Food Safety Commissionerate from 2016-2021 was evaluated.

According to the report, there were flaws at various stages in implementation of the Food Safety Act, issuing licences and registration, inspection, sample collection, food analysis and monitoring. The report stated that the department failed to ensure the standards of the food that reached the public. Operations were not efficient due to a lack of staff.

Inspection officers are not prescribing a period for inspection of licenced food establishments. This is a huge lapse on their side. The department is not complying with the requirement that an annual inspection has to be conducted of the registered catering establishments.

The main problem is that the NABL accreditation, which is a quality standard, has not been given to several components at the laboratories notified by the state Food Safety and Standards Authority.

CAG recommendations

Make licence/registration mandatory for all food manufacturing establishments. Avoid delay in application.

Implement a system through which the Food Safety Officer will get the information of the expiry dates in advance

Take steps to test maximum food samples and to remove inedible food from the market.

Get NABL accreditation for laboratories under the department.

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