Mumbai faces shortage of food safety officers

Even as Maharashtra is ahead of other states in maintaining food safety standards under the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 and regulations 2011, it is facing an acute manpower crunch of food safety officers (FSO) in Mumbai and hence has roped in 33 FSOs from local bodies across the state.
“It’s a challenging task to implement the act. The money spent by the government on the medical bill will be reduced by its effective implementation,” said Pradip Chakraborty, director IEC, FSSAI, while speaking at the third National Health Writers and Editors’ convention organised by Heal Foundation recently.
According to Mahesh Zagade, till August this year, the FDA had recorded data of 3.98 lakh food business officers (FBO) out of which approximately 1.25 lakh are licence holders and 2.72 lakh are registered. Around `75 crore has been collected from them.
The ones who have their annual turnover above `12 lakh need a licence, while those with turnover below that are registered, including street vendors. “We have conducted workshops to educate and train them. Till now, we have also prosecuted 1,600 FBOs, including around 800 for selling gutka,” added another official.
The official said there are only 204 FSOs for Maharashtra with districts like Gondia and Gadchiroli having less than four FSOs. Mumbai has just 17 FSOs out of the sanctioned strength of 66. “There needs to be one FSO for a 1,000 vendors which simply means the number of sanctioned strength needs to increase over two-fold,” he added.
The FDA has written to the state government in this regard. Meanwhile, 33 FSOs from local bodies across Maharashtra have been roped in. The FDA plans to set international food standards for Mumbai and will start with FBOs at Juhu and Girgaum beaches soon.

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