KATHMANDU, April 3: The number of people registering complaints on the quality of food stuffs available in the market has decreased significantly over the past few years, the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQ) says. Despite adulteration of foodstuffs being present in the market, the number of complaints has been very low, the department said.
Madan Chapagain, the deputy spokesperson of DoFTQ, the office has been receiving complaints at an average rate of three per month this fiscal year.
“The number of complaints we have been receiving is very low. We have only received around 35 complaints so far in this fiscal year. The number of oral complaints are also very few. The number of complaints consumers filed were very high in Fiscal Year 2009/10 and FY2010/11. The office received around 150 written complaints and high number of oral complaints in those two years,” Chapagain said. “The reduction in the number of complaints does not mean there is no adulteration in the foodstuffs available in the market. Consumers, despite being conscious, are not filing complaints.”
Data from DoFTQ shows that the office has been receiving only 60 complaints per year on average. “The number of complaints is very low if we compare it to the how much adulteration there is in foodstuffs like milk and water, amongst others, available in the market,” Chapagain said, adding that the number of complaints will increase if the government runs awareness programs like the ones it conducted during FY2009/10.
“Consumers have been filing complaints through Hello Sarkar and ministries. The complaints they receive are then forwarded to us to conduct market monitoring. Of the very few complaints we get, those related to milk, water, and sweets are very high,”
Chapagain said. “The number of complaints from outside Kathmandu is even less. We have been monitoring outside the Kathmandu Valley through our regional offices in Biratnagar, Hetauda, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Dhangadi. Some entrepreneurs have been selling date-expired products in rural areas where people are not as educated and aware. The government needs to conduct awareness programs in rural areas to make people in those regions aware of date-expired, unlabeled and low-quality food products.”
Currently, the office has been monitoring the market four days in a week. The office monitors the market in collaboration with the District Administration Offices (DAOs) and consumer rights groups.