West Bengal is among several states in the country plagued by a shortage of food safety officers, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said here on Thursday. At an interactive session organised by the Bharat Chamber of Commerce, Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI said there is a shortage of food analysts and safety officers in several states including West Bengal.
“The state government has to create more posts. The problem is not only with West Bengal, but with several states. The number is far from adequate.
Besides, there is no proper manual for officers to follow. We are talking with the state government about this,” the chief executive officer said. “We have identified two laboratories in the state, which will be upgraded with equipment and expertise,” the chief executive officer added. Food safety officers present at the occasion said that the requirement was to have 180 safety officers in Bengal, but at present, there are only 42 officers.
“Of them, 23 are working under the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), while the other 19 were to take care of the 23 districts. Some officers have to be in charge of more than one district,” said a food safety department official. Sources said there were three private (NABL-accredited) and two public food laboratories in the state. There are two food analysts under whom the food safety officers work.
During the session, Agarwal said that food safety in India is primarily the responsibility of those in the business. “It is primarily the responsibility of those engaged in food business. We have to trust them, but we also need to verify certain factors.
“As we move to a stricter regime, one of the conditions that needs to be fulfilled is that in every establishment under the food business, there has to be at least one person trained in food safety who will supervise other food handlers,” Agarwal said.