BENGALURU: The Food Safety Commissionerate has requested for an inquiry committee to be set up to check the qualifications of 55 Food Safety Officers. The Food Safety Officer, one per every taluk, has a modest target of sending only five food samples a month to the four food testing labs in the state. Since there are 197 FSOs working, the labs should receive at least 985 food samples, but they aren't receiving them.
"Unless they send samples, there's no proof that they do field work. Also, the recruitment of 210 regular food safety officers is pending with the secretariat since July last year," said Dr Harshvardan B, Deputy Commissioner (squad) of Food Safety. The Food Safety Commissionerate, that comes under the state Health Department, is flooded with officers who aren't qualified to hold these posts. Former health commissioner Subodh Yadav had come to this conclusion after an inquiry before he had left the post. But till today, new recruitments have not been made.
According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India Act, Food Safety Officer shall be a full-time officer and shall possess a degree in Food Technology/ Dairy Technology/Biotechnology/Oil Technology/Agricultural Science/Veterinary Sciences/Bio-Chemistry/Microbiology/Masters Degree in Chemistry/degree in medicine or must have successfully completed training as specified by the Food Authority.
In cases where a medical officer of health administration of local area has been performing the function of food inspector, the State government employs them as food inspectors. "There are 210 sanctioned posts, but only 197 are working, out of which 110 are medical doctors. We have no idea about the qualifications that the other 87 hold. They may be office superintendents, block health education officers, entomologists or Class XII passouts. We have requested for setting up an inquiry committee that is pending with the Health Commissioner," Harshvardan said.