Around 26 percent random food samples analysed during last three years across Jammu and Kashmir were found adulterated and substandard, raising a question mark over the work of authorities responsible for food safety in the state.
Out of the 10,636 samples tested since 2016-17, as many as 2807, that is 26 percent were found to be adulterated or substandard, according to data from union consumer affairs ministry
The food samples were randomly picked up from various markets of J&K for testing compliance with Food Safety and Standards Act.
In 2016-17, 2952 food samples were analysed, of which 1114 items turned out to be adulterated or substandard. While in the same period, 635 cases were lodged of which only one conviction was recorded.
In 2017-18, the total number of food samples analysed was 3643, of which 992 samples were found violating standards. Authorities in the same period convicted 310 persons, cases registered stood at 921.
For 2018-19, the number of samples found adulterated or substandard stood at 701 out of 4041 samples collected by food safety authorities. However, conviction rate in 698 cases launched was zero.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has informed that it has prescribed standards to ensure safe and wholesome food to the consumers through various regulations notified under Food Safety and Standards Act.
Implementation and enforcement of these regulations primarily lies with state governments.
“Commissioners of Food Safety of different states have been directed from time to time to conduct regular monitoring, inspection and sampling of food items to enforce compliance of the prescribed standards and take penal action in cases,” reads the note of the Union Consumer Affairs Ministry.
Reports that food adulteration is rampant in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Kashmir region have continuously come in as the High Court also felt the need to step in.
In 2016, the High Court took suo-moto cognisance of news reports about food adulteration and rising cancer incidence published in the Greater Kashmir and treated these as Public Interest Litigation under Food Safety and Standard Act 2006.
Food adulteration is not a new phenomenon in Kashmir valley.
But doctors say the occurrence has recently seen a phenomenal increase, which has led to a rise in patients with gastric problems across Kashmir.