Kathmandu, April 6

The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQC) has filed 136 cases against food factories and traders supplying low-quality food in the market.

As per a report compiled by DoFTQC, a total of 1,301 food samples collected from different food/feed factories, restaurants and roadside hotels along highways across the country were inspected in the first eight months of fiscal year 2018-19.

“We have filed cases against 136 factories and suppliers who have supplied low-quality food in the market,” said Sanjeev Kumar Karn, director general of DoFTQC. According to Karn, all the cases have been filed at the related District Administration Offices. The DoFTQC has filed cases against factories and suppliers from Bara, Parsa, Bhaktapur, Kathmandu, Kailali, Sarlahi, Banke, Makawanpur, Chitwan, Nuwakot, Hetauda, Siraha, Jhapa, Kaski, Nawalparasi, Kavre and Morang.

The highest number of cases have been filed in Bara district. As per Karn, a total of 33 cases have been filed in Bara against businesses for selling low-quality ghee, sunflower oil, mustard oil and vegetable ghee. Similarly, 30 cased have been filed against industries in Chitwan for selling low-quality food products like flour, chilly powder, instant noodles, lentils, bread, among others.

Meanwhile, 18 cases in Morang district and 11 cases each in Parsa and Kathmandu have been filed in the review period. “The cases were filed under the Food Act 1967 and needful action will be taken against the food factories and suppliers based on the aforementioned act,” Karn added.

He further said that factories and traders who had minor issues related to their products have been given a chance to rectify their errors by the DoFTQC.

Meanwhile, DoFTQC did not give import approval to 44 food items being imported from various countries due to low quality standard, lack of required documents and also because some items lacked proper labelling. “We inspected 30,374 samples of imported food among which 44 food items did not receive import approval,” he said adding, “Oil, biscuits, canned meat, canned fish, ketchup, noodles and some chocolates were the products that did not get import approval.”

The DoFTQC has 43 division offices across the country. However, as the Food Act 1967 has not been revised till date, the department has been prosecuting wrongdoers as per the old law that stakeholders state are outdated and lenient. According to the Food Act 1967, if anybody produces, sells, exports or imports low quality food items then they will be punished with a fine starting from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 for the first instance, and from the second time they will be charged Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 along with imprisonment for a term of six months to one year.

Meanwhile, if a consumer dies or suffers irreparable body damage due to consumption of a particular low quality food then the seller or producer of the concerned product will be punished with a fine starting from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 along with imprisonment of three years.

“The current act does not address the growing challenges in the changed/ changing market context at present, hence we are putting our efforts to replace it with a new act that has stricter rules so that no offender escapes with a light punishment,”

Karn added. The DoFTQC has already finalised the draft of the new food act, which is being currently amended.

Once the final draft is prepared, it will be tabled at the Cabinet for its endorsement.