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FSOs misconduct: TN foodgrains association to meet Pawar, Chandramouli
Monday, 30 April, 2012, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Akshay Kalbag, Mumbai
With the April 26 incident of throwing out of freshly baked goodies by a team of food safety officers (FSOs) fresh in their minds, office-bearers of the Tamil Nadu Foodgrains Merchants' Association have scheduled a meeting with Sharad Pawar, minister of agriculture and food processing industries, and K Chandramouli, chairperson, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), to put forth their objections to the licensing and registration regulations stipulated by the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006.

This was informed by S V S S Velshankar, honorary secretary, Tamil Nadu Foodgrains Merchants' Association, who would also be part of the delegation. He added, “Depending on the response of the minister and the FSSAI chief, we would decide on further course of action including legal recourse.”

The said incident pertained to Paramakudi in Tamil Nadu, where a team of FSOs visited some bakeries and threw freshly-baked bread and decorated pieces of cake in a heap of rubbish along the road.

Recounting the events, R Kaleeswaran, honorary secretary, Karaikudi Bakery Owners' Association (KBOA), said, “The FSOs’ conduct was extremely unprofessional. They quarrelled with the bakers; gave them challans and levied arbitrary charges ranging between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000. Those who paid were let off, but those who couldn't had to suffer considerable damage. This has caused them a great deal of distress.”

Meanwhile, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court granted interim injunctions to various petty food manufacturers' and traders' bodies – including Madurai Managar Anaitthu Vanigargal Nala Sangam and the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry – this week. These orders restrain the state food safety commissioner and his subordinates and FSOs from enforcing the licensing rules.

Ganesh Jeyaraj, member, Madurai Managar Anaitthu Vanigargal Nala Sangam, said, “R Viduthalai, senior counsel, and G Sankaran, advocate, argued a writ petition on our behalf and were granted injunction.” The president of this body, L Thangavel, also heads the Madurai chapter of Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sankankalin Peramaippu.

Informing F7B News that KBOA had also moved court, Kaleeswaran said, “We would appreciate it if the FSSA, 2006, is simplified, and more importantly, made more inclusive. However safe we try to make our products, we are no match for the multinational corporations and large-sized producers who are members of the panel formed to implement the Act. We face the threat of being wiped out of the industry, and that could affect the livelihood of lakhs.”

“Not only is the nomination process to this panel flawed, but vests in the food safety officers powers that they will misuse. We (small- and medium-sized FBOs) would like to run our businesses without having to resort to any unethical practices, but obtaining a licence or registration without paying an arbitrary penalty, which is often very high, is impossible. And to top it all, we have to become compliant in less than four months,” he said.
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