On Eid-Eve, Food Safety Nobody’s Concern

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Srinagar – At a time, when people gear up for Eid shopping, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation has only 10 food safety officers to detect contaminated food items in the market.

It is a Herculean task for them to check 850 registered butcher shops in the city even as they have to check not only the quality of mutton but prevent bakery shops, provision stores and myriads of restaurants to retail food articles harmful for human consumption.

“Over the years, the number of bakery or butcher shops has increased in every nook and corner as have the municipal limits. “There is dearth of staff and infrastructure to ensure and maintain quality of food articles,” an SMC official pleading anonymity said.

Sources said 70 per cent of mutton to be consumed on Eid-ul-Azha would be imported from outside the state. According to the Food Safety Act, it is mandatory for butchers not to slaughter animals immediately. Transportation of animals from outside takes several days because of which they get dehydrated. Animals for slaughter need time to revive back but the guideline is hardly ever followed and they are slaughtered the very next day.

Worse, the certificate issued at Lankahpur close to the Punjab border would have us believe the   “animals are fit for human consumption,”  even as the trucks laden with sheep and goats still have to cover a long distance to reach the valley.

The quality of mutton sold in Kashmir has rarely been of any high standard. Generally, it goes for the toss. The state doesn’t have a single working abattoir in the city or elsewhere in the valley which can at least check the health of a lamb before being slaughtered.

Though the SMC officials admit that it’s difficult to visit every butcher and bakery shop but the Commissioner, Dr G N Qasba, would tell us “the strength of officials is sufficient to ensure quality assurance.”

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