KATHMANDU, August 4: Eight percent of the daily necessities sold and distributed in the market have been found unfit for human consumption. This was found through tests conducted by the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) by collecting samples of food items being sold in the market.
In the tests conducted by the department by collecting 2,834 samples across the country, 7.7 percent food samples were found to be unfit for human consumption. According to the department, food items including food grains, oil, milk and dairy products, tea, spices, drinking water, biscuits, bhujia, dalmot, pulses, cashews, raisins, rice, beer and chilli powder were found to be of low quality.
Mohan Krishna Maharjan, spokesperson for the department, said that out of 2,834 samples, 219 samples were found to be unfit for consumption. The department has stated that action has been taken against the production and sale of low quality and contaminated goods which are against the Food Act and rules. "We will file a case under the Food Act against those selling contaminated and low-quality food items," Maharjan said. “The production by 97 industries producing sub-standard food items has been stopped.”
The department tested 747 food and pulses items, 382 oil and ghee items, 299 fruit and vegetable items, 266 spices items, 124 tea and coffee items, 206 milk and dairy product items and 165 items of treated drinking water, 90 samples of confectionery were collected and tested. Of the cases filed against the production of non-consumable and low quality food items, 16 percent are for drinking water, 13 percent for bakery and biscuits, 11 percent for oil and ghee, seven percent for noodles and spices, five percent for dalmoth and four percent for pulses.
According to the department, 40 percent of the cases filed were of low quality, 26 percent were related to production and sale of contaminated food, 26 percent were inconsistent with labels and about eight percent cases were related to violation of food act, rules and regulations.
The department has been monitoring the market not only in Kathmandu but also through its regional offices. The department has stated that not only domestic products but also consumer goods imported from abroad have been found non-consumable.
The department has banned the import of 23 types of food items imported from different countries after they were proved to be inedible. The imported goods are tested at the department's laboratory at the customs checkpoint, said Upendra Ray, director general of the department. "We test food items entering Nepal. We stop the import of sub-standard goods and destroy them right there.”
The department claimed that the quality of food in the market has improved compared to the past. Director general of the department, Ray, said that the quality of drinking water, milk and other commodities has improved. "We have repeatedly called the producers to discuss the issue of quality improvement," said Ray. "It is gradually improving."
Consumer rights activists say that strict action should be taken against the producers and sellers who produce and sell non-consumable items. President of the Consumer Rights Investigation Forum Madhav Timilsina said that even if some producers are sued, they should still be strict. "Expired food items are repackaged and sold," he said. "Strict action should be taken by making the monitoring effective."