In a major boost to the existing infrastructure at the Directorate of Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), the state government on Friday said that it is in the process of installing modern state-of-the-art equipment worth Rs 8.5 crore to further strengthen the department.
“Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is very particular about this department and he is providing sufficient funds to strengthen FDA… New equipment worth Rs 8.5 crore is being installed and we will ensure that the FDA lives up to the expectations in ensuring food safety in the state,” said Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on the floor of the House while responding to private member resolution moved by Navelim MLA Luizinho Faleiro.
He said that the FDA, despite being one of the departments of the state government, was functioning as an ‘independent’ body and without any political pressure. “FDA’s laboratory is independent and the chemist working there is an independent individual. There is no question of any interference on the part of the government,” he said.
Vishwajit said that the government is in the process of procuring 200 rapid detection kits for checking adulterants used in fresh fish. The kits are developed by Kerala-based Central Institute of Fisheries Technology to conduct spot tests of fish samples.
Vishwajit said that a total of 162 tests were conducted by the FDA on fish samples drawn from markets across the state. However, none of them was found to be having any ‘detectable level’ of formalin. He urged people to keep faith in FDA and said that the people should not have fear and anxieties in their mind as far as the quality of fish was concerned.
The Health Minister informed that during the last three years, fine of around Rs 15 lakh has been imposed under the FDA laws on food business operators, who were found to be involved in adulteration and other illegalities. He said that the FDA was consistently conducting random tests using the services of the food safety on wheels mobile food testing van in the coastal areas and also creating awareness on food safety and hygiene amongst the people.
“My appeal to the MLAs is that when FDA conducts raids then please allow them to do their job irrespective of whether they raid a small vendor or any five-star hotel,” he said.
Faleiro, in the resolution moved, had demanded to have a mechanism and a food safety commissioner to investigate adulteration. As Vishwajit informed Faleiro that the FDA has the required mechanism to detect adulteration of different food items and an independent food safety commissioner, Faleiro withdrew his resolution.