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Karnataka Food Safety Commissionerate to scrutinise FSOs’ qualifications
Saturday, 14 April, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
The Karnataka Food Safety Commissionerate is closely monitoring the educational qualification certificates of its 56 food safety officers (FSOs). This is because it has been found that four of these officers are holding fake educational certificates.

The Commissionerate, which has a total of 210 officers, has a shortfall of 15 personnel. There are 196 employed in the department, of which 110 are medical doctors, because they have been transferred from the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare. In principle, these officers are not relevant to the department’s job role, and there are scores who are not qualified for the post.

“The erstwhile Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, which came under the umbrella of the Food Safety Standards Act, 2006, shifted 60 personnel who were health department assistants. Now we need to conduct an enquiry because these are not suitable for the post,” Dr Harshavardan B, deputy commissioner, food safety squad, Office of the Karnataka Food Safety Commissionerate, told F&B News.

“We are now aggressively scouting for permanent employees who are either graduates or post-graduates in biotechnology, microbiology, chemistry or food technology agricultural sciences, among other related fields. Going by the dynamics of this sector in terms of new regulations and the need for stringent enforcements, we need a qualified workforce to streamline processes efficiently,” he added. 

“From a facility perspective, our food laboratories are being upgraded and advanced equipment installed. This will enable us carry out tests to detect pesticides and artificial ripening chemicals, among others. Together with the qualified workforce, we will be able to undertake the analysis on a faster pace,” he added.

On the Food Safety Compliance through Regular Inspections and Sampling (FoSCoRIS), an online initiative by the FSSAI, Dr Harshavardan said efforts were on to appoint a nodal officer, adding that non-governmental officers had also approached them to ensure total compliance of safe food practices.

“We will be able to easily monitor the water quality used at juice centres, along with the fruits whose pulp is used. For instance, first-grade fruits are sold at malls, the second-grade category is for the outlets and it is third-grade fruits which are used by fruit juice centres. There are also occasions where spoilt fruits and skin rinds are ground to make the juice,” he added, stating that with Ramaiah Medical College, efforts to monitor the quality of fruits and the onset of diseases that ensue with the contaminated and spoilt varieties.

On the issue of plastics, the Commissionerate has received a communication from the state government to ban the use of plastic roping in designated food officers. Quoting notification number FEE 17 EPC 2012, Para 2, Dr Harshavardan said that the current restriction was for 40 microns to 70 microns, and added that efforts were on to put in a surveillance to nab the violators. So far, it was the State Pollution Control Boards which kept tabs on the plastic ban order.
 
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