Kashmir Observer spoke to concerned authorities only to get to know their helplessness.
I am just an administrative head without any powers, said Ms Irfana Ahmad, Commissioner Food and Drug Control Department Kashmir. I dont know what happens to the samples we collect from the market. Theres a separate food commissioner who must know the status with regard to the analysis of the samples.
The same story was repeated by Assistant Commissioner, Food Safety, Hilal Ahmad Mir, who said that he had no idea how many samples were collected and sent to the laboratory for analysis in the past year. I dont know the exact number of samples collected during 2015. It could be around 200 to 250. Neither do I have the reports of the samples analyzed. They should be at the laboratory at Dalgate.
The Valleys only Food Testing Laboratory at Dalgate, Srinagar is lying defunct. There is only one qualified official responsible for analyzing food samples collected by the Food Safety Officers from entire Kashmir Valley. There is only one Food Lab Technician in entire Kashmir division who is responsible for testing food samples from 12 districts of the Valley, sources said.
A staffer at the lab said on condition of anonymity that, the lab is not conducting any tests for long now. They dont do it. Once in a month they forward one odd sample of milk or biscuit to the central laboratory,he revealed.
According to officials, the Assistant Controller of Food, Srinagar, holds an additional charge of Food Analyst at the laboratory.
A team of National Board of Testing and Calibration Laboratories conducted an inspection some time back and noted that the laboratory is without high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) machine, gas liquid chromatography (GLC) machine, spectrophotometer, water testing kit and even basic equipments like projector microscope, binocular microscope and milk testing kit.
When Kashmir Observer contacted Commissioner of Food and Drug Control Department and asked her how many bread samples were collected in last one year and what was the report prepared by the lab, she declined to reveal any information saying the report could not be shared with the public.
However when pressed commissioner Ms Irfana Ahmad said, You can get it from food analyst.
See I have no authority over the reports, the concerned Food Analyst is the real authority who can share report with you.
When we went to Food Lab Dalgate the incharge Food Analyst Mr Sumeet feigned ignorance saying there are no analytical reports with respect to the bakery products, like bread etc with them. When his attention was drawn to commissioners directive, he hastened to add that, he was not authorised to reveal the findings. Irritated by the passing the buck attitude, this reporter again called Ms. Irfana from the office of Food Analyst and related the issue. The Commissioner categorically denied having with her any reports.It is with the concerned food analyst, get it from him, she said.
Now Food Analyst Mr Sumeet changed the tack saying, Please give me four or five days more to share the reports with you.
When I asked for the number of samples collected for lab testing in 2015, there was no answer to even that query.
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