Adulteration rampant due to poor oversightFood adulteration has become rampant in the central Tarai due to inadequate oversight and weak law enforcement.
Food adulteration has become rampant in the central Tarai due to inadequate oversight and weak law enforcement.
The Regional Food Technology and Quality Control (RFTQC) office, Hetauda filed 119 cases related to unhygienic and adulterated foods at the District Administration Office in the last fiscal year ended mid-July.
In the previous fiscal year 2016-17, the office had filed 40 cases at different district administration offices. A majority of the cases were related to unhygienic oil and dairy products.
The office oversees nine districts—Makwanpur, Bara, Parsa, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Sindhuli, Chitwan, Dhanusha and Mahottari—in the central Tarai.
“We have initiated legal proceedings against the firms and individuals found selling substandard foods,” said Raj Kumar Rijal, chief of the office. “Although we have limited resources to regularly inspect the market, we have been actively involved in punishing wrongdoers,” he said, adding that the office expected action to be taken against the accused in a majority of cases. Due to lack of human resources and technology, the food samples collected from the market have to be sent to Kathmandu for testing. According to the RFTQC, the highest number of 35 adulteration cases have been filed in Makwanpur district followed by Bara with 34 and Parsa with 21 cases. Similarly, 10 food adulteration cases have been filed in Sarlahi, 10 in Dhanusha and six in Rautahat.
Although adulteration cases are on the rise in Chitwan, officials are currently engaged in gathering evidence and recording statements. “We have not filed charges but we are planning to do so by this fiscal year,” said Anup Halwai, food inspector at the office.
In many Tarai districts, very few cases are filed against wrongdoers due to lack of manpower and technology. While one case has been filed in Rautahat, no action has been taken in Mahottari and Sindhuli districts for lack of food inspectors. As local administrations don’t take market monitoring seriously, very few cases are filed, the office said.
Out of the total 601 samples collected in the central Tarai region, 81 samples or 13 percent tested negative. Edible oil and ghee were the most common unhygienic products being sold in the market followed by milk and dairy products, said the office unveiling the annual market monitoring report on Friday.
In the previous fiscal year, 65 out of the 611 samples of food items tested were found to be unhygienic and adulterated.