Sources said that the ministry and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) have worked out a strategy to carry out this massive task to assess the real extent of the menace and to come out with policy interventions to curb adulteration and contamination.
"The focus of the joint effort will be on detecting the adulteration and identifying the adulterants, disseminate the finding and to create awareness among people. Another major thrust is to work out strategies to improve and strengthen testing facilities in partnership with educational institutions," said a government official.
Eight categories of daily use items that are most prone to adulteration and contamination have been identified as targets of the survey. These include milk products such as khoya, butter, ghee, milk-based sweets, pulses (arhar and rajma), mustard oil, groundnut oil, poultry and meat to detect use of oxytocin. Fruits and vegetable samples will also be checked to detect use of carbide for ripening and pesticides, besides materials used for colouring.
Sources said that the extent of adulteration of milk is high and an FSSAI study in 2011 had pegged adulteration of milk at 68.4% and in the case of packaged milk it was as high as 33% in urban areas. The authority had collected random samples from 33 states totaling a sample size of 1,791. While 565 samples confirmed to the standard, the rest failed. 13,571 out of 72,200 food samples analysed in 2013-14 were adulterated, resulting in launch of 10,325 civil and criminal cases. It is also proposed to revisit the punishment stipulated for milk adulteration and make it more stringent
Detergent was found in 103 samples while the second highest parameter of non conformity was the skim milk powder in 548 samples. The study had concluded that addition of water to milk is most common adulterant and that powdered milk is reconstituted to meet the demand of milk supply.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is at present engaged in an exercise for harmonisation of the maximum residue limit of pesticides in food commodities.