August 17, 2016 12:20 AM NPT
Government officials read the labels of products at a Big Mart outlet in Lainchaur, Kathmandu, on Tuesday. Officials sealed two warehouses of the chain in Kalopul and Shanti Nagar on Monday and early Tuesday.(Bijay Gajmer/Republica)
KATHMANDU, Aug 17: The government filed cases against 206 business firms in Fiscal Year 2015/16, charging them of selling sub-standard food products.
Officials of the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQC) told Republica that cases have been filed at District Administration Offices (DAOs) of concerned districts under Food Act, 2023.
Most of these firms are producers of dairy products, bottled water, edible oil, biscuits, bakery items, and ghee, among others.
"We collected 2,120 food samples in 2015/16. Of them, 202 samples failed to meet our quality standards," Purna Chandra Osti, the spokesperson for DoFTQC said, adding: "Bottled water, edible oil and dairy products top the list of products that have failed to meet quality standards."
Of the samples that failed quality test, 39 were of edible oil, 25 of bottled water, and 17 of milk product.
"Most of the food producers that failed quality test lacked clean and hygienic environment. Some were careless on selection of raw materials, while others compromised on quantity," added Osti.
Meanwhile, the department has provided green stickers to 66 additional hotels and restaurants along country's major highways in 2015/16. With this, the number of highway eateries receiving green stickers has reached 86.
Green stickers certify that food products served in those eateries are fit for consumption.
Speaking at a press conference in the capital on Tuesday, Sanjeev Kumar Karn, director general of DoFTQC, underlined the need to revise laws and policies related to production and distribution of food products.
Similarly, Osti said that existing policies give few teeth to the regulatory bodies to take action against wrongdoer.
"We are in the process of making amendment to the existing Food Act. We have tried to make the new act as contextual and practical as possible," he added.
At the program, DoFTQC officials said lack of resources was hampering their efficiency.
Meanwhile, Osti told Republica that the department was preparing to upgrade the central food laboratory as well as food quarantine labs in different customs points across the country.