Karnataka: Food at Anganwadis 'unfit for consumption'

Karnataka: Food at Anganwadis 'unfit for consumption'

A fine of Rs 20,000 was also imposed on those officials responsible for supplying unfit food items to anganwadi centres. DH File Photo for representation

At a time when the state and central governments have come under fire over malnutrition of children, a recent report by food safety authorities has found glaring violations at a food production centre with staples like wheat flour containing live insects.

For years, food being supplied to Anganwadis would pass rigorous testing by the FSSAI. That changed this month when state authorities found food items so poor in quality that some were even deemed “unsafe.”

Testing of samples collected at Banavara, outside Bengaluru, by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) found that usually, containers of sambar powder, rice, rice flour, ragi, moong dal and sugar passed with the usual notations of “satisfactory.” 

But then, inspectors began to find living insects in stocks of tur dal, groundnut seeds and cleaned wheat, coupled with the presence of a dangerous chemical in stocks of mustard, plus excess fat in soya flour.

Staff members of the Mahila Supplementary Nutrition Production and Training Centres (MSPTCs), who had supplied the items, were booked under Section 56 of the Food Standards and Safety Act, 2006. 

A fine of Rs 20,000 was also imposed on those officials responsible for supplying food items to Anganwadis.

"This is the first negative report we have recieved in the last two years. Food materials from the 137 centres are checked every month. Following the report, we have increased vigilance," an official said.

The discovery comes at a time when there has been renewed focus on the problem of malnutrition in the state. The 2015-16 National Family Health Survey determined that Karnataka is among the worst-affected states when it comes to malnutrition in south India, with 36.2% of children under the age of 5 being stunted and 26.1% of children under 5 being weak. A further 10.5% of children 5 were classified as severely weak.

State malnutrition figures released by the Department of Women and Children in April, which includes statistics from 15 districts, showed varying levels of malnutrition among children in the age group of 0-6 years, belonging to economically weaker sections of the society. Koppal district tops the list with a malnutrition rate of 29.9% in January 2019.