Percentage of adulterated milk products high in Andhra, Punjab: Minister


New Delhi : The percentage of adulterated milk and milk products sold in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab has been found to be high, Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi said Thursday.

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Giving a statement in response to a call attention motion in Lok Sabha on rampant adulteration in food and edible substances in the country and the steps taken to tackle it, the minister also said that the percentage of adulteration has declined.

“According to available information provided by the states and union territory governments, the percentage of adulteration in food articles from 8.44 percent of the samples collected in 2006 came down to 7.73 percent in 2008,” the minister said.

He said samples of food articles, including milk products, edible oil, vegetables, sweets and other food articles, are taken regularly for testing by the authorities.

Citing figures of 2007, the minister said out of the 3,495 prosecution cases, in 2,409 cases convictions were done. Nearly 30,699 cases were pending in the courts, he added.

He said samples lifted in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab showed “higher percentage of adulteration in commodities like beverages, milk and milk products”.

In Andhra Pradesh, about 277 samples of beverages were lifted and 20 percent of them were found adulterated. In the same way, in Gujarat, 121 samples were taken, of which 24 percent was found adulterated.

In Maharashtra, 281 samples were collected of which 23 percent were found adulterated. In the same way in Punjab, 170 samples were taken and 35 percent of them were found to be adulterated.

Noting that food safety laws rest with states and union territories, Trivedi said they need to tighten their enforcement machinery and keep strict vigil on the activities of unscrupulous elements and strive for speedy trial so that the perpetrators do not play havoc with the health and lives of the consumers.

He said in 2006, 7,695 cases were registered of which 1,284 convictions occurred. The number dipped in 2007 with 3,902 food adulteration cases being registered. About 2,472 convictions took place.

In 2008, 3,250 cases were registered, but only 549 convictions were reported.

Under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, sale of spurious, adulterated food items also attracts penalty of imprisonment upto life and fine of Rs.5,000 if the act has led to grievous hurt.