Adulterated food articles rampant

KATHMANDU: Sale of adulterated food products is on without any check in the market. The law enforcement authorities are doing precious little to bring the unscrupulous traders to book.

The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, the only state-owned body entrusted with the responsibility to check such unscrupulous trade practices, attributed the growing trend to lack of adequate food inspectors. “We would have been able to curb such practice, if we had enough food inspectors,” a senior official at DFTQC said on the condition of anonymity.

Manufacturers as well as retailers are found to directly mix extraneous materials to increase the volume or weight of food products.

In the absence of proper law

enforcement mechanism, the

problem may soon spiral out of control and pose a serious threat to public health.

“Unscrupulous traders usually mix food grains with stones, sand, soil and substandard and infested grains to increase the volume to rake in extra profit,” he admitted. The practice is common in urban centres, he added.

Sabitra Bhusal, a housewife and a resident of Handigaun, said, “I saw a grocer sprinkling water on bagful of pulses. He probably did it to increase the weight.” Adulteration of ghee, milk, spices, tealeaves, chilli powders and honey is also common in the market. Milk is adulterated with water and wheat flour, while ghee with animal fat, which is not visible to the eyes.

“I have heard of complaints about adulteration of food products, but I have never done so just to make a few extra bucks,” maintained a retailer at Maitidevi. Officials at the Retailers' Association of Nepal were not immediately available for comment.

According to consumer

rights defenders, the government had done almost nothing to curb such malpractices. Ram Chandra Simkhada, consumer lawyer and secretary of Consumers' Right Protection Forum said, “Broader media campaign and formulation of strict laws against the practice is the need of the hour.”