17 per cent food products with fault in the valley

Radha Krishna Shrestha a local from Baneshwor has a habit of buying a hefty amount of fresh green vegetables as he returns home from office. Another housewife in the same market chooses her brand of cooking oil by checking the smell. However, many consumers in the capital are yet to be aware of the fact that many products, although nice in appearance are not equally healthy.

A recently published report of Food Technology and Investigation Department (FTID) reveals that out of total consumer products available in the valley, 17 per cent of them were contaminated and contained substances prone to health hazard. Among 1270 different food items inspected by the department, 50 per cent of edible oils, 71 per cent pastured milk, 70 per cent of ghee, 50 per cent of salty snacks, 75 per cent wheat flour and 40 per cent of lentil products were found not fit to consume.

Food Act-1967 and Regulation-1970 have a provision of inspecting the factories, equipments, raw materials and stores to ensure the quality of the food products. “The inspection revealed that most of the factories had not even a satisfactory condition. It is suggested to warn them and monitor frequently,” the report said.

Apart from food products, consumers have been cheated in many other items like petroleum products and cooking gas by mixing or filling than correct amount. The department of commerce deserves the right to take action again such traders. However, no remarkable activity from the department’s side has been observed for last one decade.

Consumer protection act-1998, the first ever act in the country guarantees the right of complaints and awareness regarding the quality products, but it is lying handicap since the government has not appointed three consumer and two women representatives in the vacant posts at the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) even after four years since the act was passed in the parliament. The government has not even cared to appoint consumer representatives in the district level consumer committee chaired by the chief district officer. Govind Prasad Subedi an official at the commerce ministry says that all this was happening because the consumers were not aware and organised.

Urmila Joshi, food investigation officer at the quality control department, says that her office was doing it’s best despite severe lack of resources. She also thinks that the government was yet to take any serious step in the matter until the consumer themselves stand up.

Kalyanee Shah, president of SEWA-Nepal, a NGO working in the consumer sector said that unless all the pressure group put a joint effort to aware the consumers, nothing would happen. “People should be made aware about the right they deserve.”