The Uttarakhand Government does not look interested in tackling the menace of food adulteration. This is the inference that can be drawn from the State Government’s attitude toward the ‘food safety department.’ In fact, there is no proper “department” in the real sense of the word. There is only one Food Safety Officer (FSO) in the State Capital Dehradun who is single-handedly responsible for collection of samples and sending them to laboratories for testing and that’s all. What’s more, the officer has to pay for the samples from his own pocket and has to bear the other expenses, too, like transportation of samples etc.
The Food Safety Act has been in effect since August 5, 2011 all over the country. The Central Government notified the State Government way back in 2009 to restructure its food safety department so that it can effectively work according to the new guidelines. But almost three years after that, all the department has is a single Food Safety Officer who has to double up as a porter to carry the samples collected by him apart from doing all the clerical work as well. This officer has no assistant, no vehicle, and no security. The officer has to pay for all the expenses from his own pocket, including the transportation of the samples to the labs and other places. The Government reimburses the money later, but like any other sarkari process, this one too is very slow.
For the uninitiated, the collection of sample is a tedious process. It requires filling up of a dozen and a half papers and sealing the samples on the spot. At least four samples have to be purchased by the officer and sealed on the spot in the presence of two independent witnesses. Many shopkeepers do not give the samples willingly and try to lure or threaten the FSO. After that begins the filling of form 5A (4 copies to be filled), form 6A (7 copies to be filled) and later panchnama — the complete details of the sample, shopkeeper, officer along with date, time and place. At present all this is done by a single person in Dehradun.
A few things are so expensive that they are beyond the purchasing power of an FSO in the stipulated quantity. For example silver foils (at least 8 gram required) and saffron (80 gram needed for 4 samples). Besides, an FSO is required to send at least 12 different samples to the laboratory in a month. In these circumstances, how effective the checking of food adulteration is can be easily gauged.

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