The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQC) has revealed that the market is flooded with low quality goods.

A report compiled by the DoFTQC has stated that around 14 per cent of food items available in the market are of substandard quality.

In the first eight months of the current fiscal year, the department collected 2,284 samples during market monitoring.

Of the 881 samples tested, 127 samples did not meet the criteria set by the government, said Mohan Maharjan, spokesperson for the department.

According to him, the department had collected 1,189 samples in the first four months of the current fiscal year and 1,095 samples in the second four months.

Samples of pulses, oil/ghee, cereals, fruits and vegetables, spices, processed drinking water, fresh milk and dairy products were collected during the review period.

Of the 127 substandard samples, 31 samples were of crops, 18 samples of processed drinking water, 20 samples of food grains, 19 samples of oil and ghee and the remaining were other processed food items.

Spokesperson Maharjan further said that the department has filed 76 cases in various district administration offices and district courts, including 26 cases filed in the first four months and 50 cases in the subsequent four months of the fiscal year.

Out of the 76 cases, 35 cases were related to substandard products, 23 cases related to lack of documents such as receipts, 12 cases related to contamination and the remaining six cases were related to other violations of Food Act.

In the current fiscal year, new licences have been issued to a total of 470 industries, 156 in the first four months and 314 in the second four months.

In the same period last fiscal, 1,192 industries were recommended for licence renewal and 1,772 new industries were recommended to be established.

In the current fiscal year, 26,894 import permits have been issued so far for the import of food items. Meanwhile, a total of 86 consignments of various food items, including beans, spices, confectionery and beverages, have been cancelled in lack of documents.

Spokesperson Maharjan said that the department has taken the proposal to the ministry to operate the laboratory service 24 hours a day to speed up the monitoring and regulation.

The department has six food technology and quality control offices at Biratnagar, Janakpur, Hetauda, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Dhangadhi, 24 divisional offices including Jhapa, Inaruwa, Dhankutal and Kakadvitta, Rani, Jaleshwor, Tribhuvan International Airport, Tatopani, Rasuwa, Birgunj and others.

There are 43 offices including food import and export quality certification offices in 12 places across the country.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 29, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.