Pawan Timilsina, The Kathmandu Post, 3 July 2017
The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) has initiated legal action against 246 food enterprises engaged in various malpractices in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year.
The cases filed in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year are higher than 206 cases filed in the entire 12-month period of the previous fiscal year.
More food enterprises are facing legal action this year, as the DFTQC, a government body that extends the license to the food industry and enforces Food Act and Regulations in the country ramped up inspections.
The DFTQC inspected around 3,000 enterprises in the last fiscal year. These enterprises were engaged in the bottling of drinking water and production of milk, cooking oil, sweets, instant noodles, biscuits and vegetable ghee, among others. In the 11-month period of this fiscal year from mid-July to mid-June, the government body had inspected 6,612 enterprises.
“Since the number of inspections jumped two-fold, more cases of malpractices were unearthed,” DFTQC Spokesperson Purna Chandra Wasti said. “Because of this, we initiated legal action against more enterprises.
The latest DFTQC report says about 10 percent of enterprises engaged in malpractices were found supplying food products laced with materials that are harmful to human health. Another 35 percent of the enterprises were caught selling substandard products that are nutritionally imbalanced, while the remaining enterprises were found selling unlabelled products in the market.
Based on these evidence, the DFTQC has filed cases against 20 drinking water bottling plants, 11 milk factories and 22 cooking oil manufacturers at district administrative offices. These cases were filed based on a provision in the Food Act.
According to the Food Act, a fine of Rs5,000 and jail sentence of one year can be slapped on manufacturers, suppliers, importers, and exporters supplying low standard products, while a fine of up to Rs10,000 and a jail sentence of up to two years can be imposed on those supplying deteriorated products. The inspections conducted by the DFTQC have shown that consumers of essential edible commodities, like cooking oil, are generally being short changed by manufacturers, according to DFTQC Director General Sanjeev Kumar Karn.
“Many brands of drinking water, milk, cooking oil and sweets, and food sold by restaurants are of low standard,” said Karn. “To curb these malpractices, we are planning to introduce Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in milk and drinking water industries.”
The GMP will offer a checklist to guide production and packaging of edible commodities. In other words, the GMP is a system that ensures production of goods without compromising on the quality. It encompasses all aspects of production from the use of raw materials, premises, equipment to training and personal hygiene of staff.
“We are currently preparing the draft of GMP guideline,” said Karn. “Once it is introduced, enterprises that do not follow the set criteria for production, processing, and packaging will be immediately penalized.”