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ISSUES

Food imports at Mumbai airport: Authorities claim situation under control
Monday, 13 June, 2011, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Irum Khan, Mumbai
The cold storage crisis for imported food products at Mumbai International airport continues with importers still being urged to avoid landing of large consignments.It was confirmed by sources in MIAL (Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd) that provision for storing large consignments of food items was not yet made but the smaller ones were welcome.

“We are asking people to import consignments up to 100 kg till the cold storage issue is resolved,” said once of the sources.Though he claimed that the situation was not as bad as last week but could not really pinpoint at the areas of improvement observed.

MIAL also informed that there existed 10 cold storages but all of them were blocked. Hence, small consignments or those which were up to 100 kg were only being allowed.

The Customs, in its recent meeting of the concerned authorities for imported food, had strongly come down on MIAL for the neglect of the cold storage issue.

Meanwhile, the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) refuted the report published in a section of media, which indirectly accused the Authority of procedural delays leading to rotting food products at the airport.

Dr S K Haldar, port officer, FSSAI, Mumbai Airport, objected to the allegation that the importers had to wait upto three days for the FSSAI officers to check the goods, collect samples and send them for testing and also that the inspectors did not work on weekends and other holidays.

He said, “The FSSAI team is on duty on all working days as per the Customs' schedule, except for second Saturdays and Sundays. Not only that, the team also works beyond official work-hours many a time.”

Though, he admitted that some talked-about issues, like the ones related to cold chains, were close to real.

He also clarified that the appointment for food testing is issued to the concerned laboratories on the same day of the submission of Customs generated documents, along with other necessary documents by importer / CHAs (Customs House Agents) to the FSSAI office.

“Our team inspects the consignment, and sends the samples to the designated laboratory for analysis on the same day. Hence there is absolutely no delay on the part of the FSSAI,” he said.

Dr Haldar questioned that how could the Authority which was simply responsible for testing food products for safety parameters be held responsible for the rotting food items and providing cold storages?

He clarified that he himself had written to the MIAL asking for adequate and efficient cold storage facilities, because of which many imported food items failed the safety test.
 
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