FSSAI Sets Up Surveillance On Sweets To Detect Adulteration

The excitement of Diwali is already in the air. With diyas, crackers, and festive dishes, this festival fills our lives with lights. Besides the puja and other rituals, food is the major attraction of Diwali. You will find a variety of mithais in the sweet shops, such as laddoos, kaju katli, barfi, peda, gulab jamun, kalakand, and soan papdi.  

Amid the Diwali buzz, there is an important issue that we often ignore. During the festive season, there is a sudden spike in adulteration incidents, be it milk, khoya, or ready-made sweets. To check on this issue, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has directed around 4,000 state-level officers to increase surveillance on possible adulteration in festive sweets across the country. 

The festive season is the time when the demand for sweets and dairy products rises in India, paving the way for illegal forms of action by retailers and manufacturers of dairy products. “Usually, consumption of sweets goes up during the Diwali festival. We have directed our officers in the states and Union territories to intensify the surveillance of sweets to check on adulteration,” said Kamala Vardhana Rao, CEO of FSSAI, in the media conference at the 'Eat Right' Summit.  

As per CEO Rao, state food safety officials will be inspecting the shops and collecting samples to check the quality of the food. According to FSSAI, the food is divided into four categories, which include compliance, non-compliance, partial compliance, and not applicable or observed. They have also been asked to take strict action against those who have been found to be non-compliant with quality norms.

To check the quality of milk and milk products, a national survey is being conducted by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and the Quality Council of India. The survey will be concluded within a month, and they will collect and assess over 10,000 food samples, CEO Rao added. 

Along with this inspection, the FSSAI authorities have also decided to increase the number of surveillance samples from 1 lakh this year to 7 lakh in 2024. To assist Food Safety Officers in conducting inspections, a marking and grading structure has been established by FSSAI.  

Another major discussion at the ‘Eat Right’ summit is the amendment bill that the health ministry will introduce in Parliament to revamp the functioning and jurisdiction of FSSAI. "We hope we will very soon be able to introduce the food safety and standards (amendment) bill (in Parliament)," said Sudhansh Pant, Health Secretary and chairperson of FSSAI told the media on the sidelines of the 'Eat Right' Summit. 

The ministry had sought public comments on the draft amendments in September 2020. The Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act was passed in 2006; however, the regulations were notified only in 2011. Since the food sector is unorganised in India, the amendment bill will focus on strengthening the FSSAI with more powers to ensure food quality norms are followed.