Market monitoring upped as Tihar festival nearsMarket monitoring authorities have intensified scrutiny of businesses in a bid to check adulteration in food items including cooking oil with the Tihar festive season approaching.
Market monitoring authorities have intensified scrutiny of businesses in a bid to check adulteration in food items including cooking oil with the Tihar festive season approaching.
Inspection teams from the Department of Supplies Management (DoSM) began making their rounds on Sunday while the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) said its inspectors would be pounding the streets from Tuesday.
Cooking oil, ghee, sweets, dried fruits and clothes are among the fastest selling items during the Tihar festival. Unscrupulous traders have been known to pass off substandard products and overcharge customers by taking advantage of the festival shopping rush.
Records of the two government authorities show that such offences increase during the festival. Due to poor market monitoring and failure to take stern action against offenders, unlawful activities have spread and consumers continue to suffer.
The DoSM and DFTQC both have claimed that they have been sending out monitoring teams to check adulteration in the Kathmandu Valley and elsewhere in the country. They said that their inspectors have also been visiting factories in Bara-Parsa, Biratnagar, Makwanpur, Bhairahawa and Hetauda where cooking oil, ghee and edibles are produced.
DoSM Director General Kumar Prasad Dahal said the department had mobilised four teams to check business outlets operating in the Valley. “We have focused mainly on shops selling ghee, sweets, cooking oil, apparels and footwear,” said Dahal, adding that they had been receiving an increasing number of complaints about bad cooking oil being sold in the market.
On the first two days of the week, DoSM market monitoring teams caught several apparel stores for not issuing sales receipts to their customers besides fixing price tags to their products. The stores had also been unable to produce invoices for their stock.
Meanwhile, department inspectors destroyed a large quantity of date expired food items and sweets they had confiscated while making their market rounds.
DFTQC said that it would be dispatching two teams to check stores selling edibles in the Valley from Tuesday. DFTQC Spokesperson Purna Chandra Wasti said sales of substandard cooking oil and ghee were rampant during Tihar.
“Low quality raw materials and poor storage systems have been found to be the main reasons responsible for the poor quality of cooking oil sold in the market,” said Wasti, adding that oil manufacturers in many cases had not been maintaining proper acid and peroxide values as per food standards.
According to Wasti, use of animal fat and vegetable ghee results in poor quality ghee, a product that is in high demand during Tihar. “Similarly, reprocessing of damaged sweets and poor hygiene at the production unit are the main problems seen in the sweets business.”
Meanwhile, the DFTQC has stepped up work to begin legal proceedings against the manufacturers of Byanjan, Family and Sunflow brands of oil which were found to be of inferior quality.
“Products of these three brands were found to be of low quality during lab tests of nine samples collected by the DoSM,” Wasti said. According to him, the department will book these manufacturers under the existing Food Act.