'84% buyers feel govt bodies don't check adulteration'

An online survey has found that 84% of the consumers felt state food department/ district administration were inactive in cracking down on food adulteration in the country.

Recently complaints over artificial ripening of fruits, especially mangoes, were on the rise. Local Circles, a social engagement platform, conducted an online survey in this light, to check whether consumers were aware of the issue.

The survey received more than 24,000 votes from 13,000 unique citizens across the country. As many as 78% of the respondents said they were unaware of how to identify the artificially ripened fruits from natural ones. Only 15% said they were aware of it.

The survey says 68% don’t trust fruit and vegetable vendors when it comes to artificial ripening.

The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has banned the use of calcium carbide and acetylene gas for ripening of fruits, but vendors have been using it openly. Several branded Alphanso boxes carry either calcium carbide in a paper wrapper or Chinese ethylene sachet ethephon, which is placed under the straw bed on which mangoes are placed, the survey said.

The consumers were asked about the category in which they experienced most adulteration last year. Fruits and vegetables were mentioned by 30% of them, 13% said milk and 29% said grocery items like flour, spices, ghee etc. 28% said they were unsure about it, said the report.

"Awareness and action on consumer reporting can be the first step which has been missing for all practical purposes. FSSAI will need to initiate this in mission mode with state food departments and district administration if public health is a Government priority," said the Local Circles.

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