According to the data released, during the year 2018-19, a total of 1,06,459 samples were analysed.
While 3.7% of these samples were found to be unsafe, 15.8% were found to be sub-standard and 9% samples had labelling defects.
This is the first year the data has been compiled for unsafe, substandard and labelling defects separately. This would help support food safety authorities to take precise corrective and preventive action. While, there should be zero tolerance to unsafe food, issue of sub-standard and labelling defects require greater efforts on capacity building of food businesses and food standards as well as labelling requirements.
There has been a 7% increase in the number of samples analysed during 2018-19 as compared to 2017-18, and 25% more samples were found non-conforming compared to the previous year. This shows that there has been better targeting of enforcement efforts by the states and union territories.
There has been a 36% increase in civil cases launched and a 67% increase in the number of cases where penalties were imposed. The amount of penalty imposed has increased by 23% during 2018-19 compared to the previous year, and Rs 32.58-crore was realised during 2018-19.
As far as criminal cases are concerned, there has been an 86% increase in criminal cases launched. Since the conclusion of criminal cases takes time, a total of 5,198 cases were concluded during 2017-18 that included a backlog of previous years. During the year, there have been 701 convictions in criminal cases so far.
Ten states and union territories that have performed well include Uttar Pradesh; Gujarat; Kerala; Madhya Pradesh; Punjab; Tamil Nadu; Bihar; Jammu & Kashmir; Delhi and Chandigarh.
Ten States that performed poorly include Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Telangana, and Uttarakhand. Many of the poorly performing states have not been able to put in place full-time officers for food safety and do not have proper food testing laboratories despite the food safety law coming into force over a decade ago.
Expressing satisfaction over improved enforcement, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, said, “More rigorous enforcement by states is essential to build public trust in food.”
He admitted that public trust has been eroded in recent times due to fake news creating widespread perception of large-scale adulteration in the country. “FSSAI is working with the states and union territories, particularly with weaker ones in this regard. For this, FSSAI is increasing the capacity of state food laboratories and enabling the use of private food labs for testing food samples. Enforcement efforts have to better targeted and preceded by surveillance efforts to identify hotspots and problem areas,” he concluded.