Even after so much talk and research around public health and food, it's disappointing to see that food safety remains one of the issues that is often neglected.
On April 30th, a plea has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking an immediate ban on the sale of fruits and vegetables, which contain artificial colour and harmful preservatives. A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw, agreeing to hear the PIL, posted the plea for May 21 and clubbed it with another petition that relates to pesticides in fruits and vegetables.
The PIL filed by advocate Sugriv Dubey alleged that fruits and vegetables sold in Delhi are "coated with carbohydrate and other cancerous chemicals to increase their life span". The plea said that the authorities have not taken any step to insure the quality of food being sold in markets here are safe for consumption.
"Not a single sample of mango sold during the entire season has been taken into custody by the authorities to ensure that those coated with carbohydrates are not sold in the market," it stated.
In another shocking case, a court came down heavily on food adulteration terming it a menace to public health while sentencing a senior citizen to 18 months jail for mixing synthetic colour with pulses.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gaurav Rao said: "Adulteration of food is a menace to public health," as he convicted and sentenced 66-year-old Satya Prakash Jain under various sections of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. Jain was also slapped with a fine of Rs.10,000. He was charged with selling arhar dal (pulse) adulterated with synthetic colour tartrazine in August 2004. The pulses are polished with chemicals to make them shinywhile ignoring how injurious these can be to our health when consumed.
"The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act has been enacted with the aim of eradicating the anti-social evil and for ensuring purity in articles of food," the court observed.
It added that the aim of the act is to protect citizens from those who in the guise of respectable trades jeopardize the health and well-being of innocent customers. "The adulterators are a serious risk to the society," the judge said.
Consumers are best advised to carefully check the fruits and veggies and purchase only from trusted shops. Wash the foods thoroughly before consumption. Some suggest using a blend of vinegar and water (1:3) to clean the vegetables which helps to kill the bacteria.
On Tuesday, The National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) launched a drive to upgrade the hygiene level of street food vendors in the national capital. The drive that started in the Sarojini Nagar market in south Delhi will focus on providing training to the street food vendors in safe handling of the street food.
Around 120 such vendors have applied for registration under the Food Safety Act 2011 and will be trained by NASVI in safe handling of food. "This is the beginning of their efforts to make entire Delhi a heaven for street food lovers", said NASVi national co-ordinator Arbind Singh.
He said that NASVI plans to rope in all the street food vendors of Delhi and create many such Safe Food Zones.