At a time when slaughter houses and meat shops were being closely monitored in states like Uttar Pradesh, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in a report tabled in the Gujarat Assembly Friday pointed out that slaughter houses in the state have been “running their business without obtaining licence under the Food and Safety Standards (FSS) Act”.
“The FSS Act provided that no person shall carry on any food business without registration/licence. As of March 2016, only 55 meat shops in the state have been registered. Slaughter houses in the state were running their business without obtaining licence under the FSS Act,” observed the CAG in its report on “General and Social Sector.”
While auditing the functioning of the Food and Drugs Control Administration in Gujarat, the CAG found at least nine slaughter houses located within municipal corporation or municipality limits functioning without the necessary licence. This included two slaughter houses in Jamangar, one in Rajkot, two in Surat, three in Surendranagar and one in Vadodara.
“In the test-checked districts, audit observed that samples of meat and meat products have not been taken for testing by the district authorities. As per the baseline survey 2014 conducted by the Registrar General of India, 39.05 per cent of the population of the state was non-vegetarians. Despite this, the FDCA has not taken any measures to bring the slaughter houses and meat shops under the FSS Act,” the report added.
Apart from slaughter houses, the CAG found that food business operators (FBOs) or the industrial units engaged in manufacturing and processing of food in Gujarat “were running business without obtaining registration or licences”.
“During joint field visit of 99 FBOs whose licenses have been expired, 63 FBOs were still carrying on with their businesses,” the report stated.
The country’s top auditor also found that FBOs in Gujarat did not recall packaged food items after certain batches failed tests and were thus consumed by public. It pointed out that “91 per cent of the food samples were tested and declared ‘standard’ without conducting important tests” for detecting the presence of harmful microbes, metal and toxic substances, insecticides, food additives and nutritional value.
Not just food, the FDCA in Gujarat was also found to be “very lenient with manufacturers of grossly sub-standard drugs”, when CAG compared the penal provisions imposed in the state with those adopted by other state FDCAs. The auditor also found a 33-55 per cent shortage of staff in food and drugs laboratory which hampered the “effective implementation of the FSS and the Drugs and Cosmetics (D&C) Act”.