FSSAI Cracks Down On Use Of Chemicals, Pesticides In Vegetables

NEW DELHI : The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has directed all states and union territories to intensify surveillance of fresh produce due to mounting concerns over high concentrations of harmful pesticides and chemicals in vegetables and fruit sold in markets.

Excessive amounts of chemicals are used to prolong the shelf-life of fresh fruit and vegetables, prompting the food regulator to intensify the monitoring of businesses involved in trading, re-packaging, manufacturing and selling fresh produce. Penalties will be imposed on entities found responsible for such practices, it said.

Adverse health effects of pesticides in fresh produce range from skin diseases in humans to contamination of soil, water, turf and other vegetation.

“NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance on the issues relating to excessive use of pesticide by farmers and directed to take steps to minimize pesticides risks and promotion of alternative systems of cultivation,” Inoshi Sharma, executive director, FSSAI, said in a directive to food commissioners of states and UTs.

“Measures like surveillance or enforcement activities may be undertaken to ensure fresh fruits and vegetables sold in your jurisdictions comply with the provisions of Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulation, 2011,” Sharma said.

According to FSSAI, pesticide is important for protecting crops and sustaining production and managing pests and disease during cultivation and post-harvest practices of food commodities, but not beyond permissible quantities. In 2017-18, the government collected more than 23,000 food samples of fruit, vegetables, spices, pulses, fish, milk and eggs. Nearly 2.2% of the samples were detected with the maximum permitted residue levels of pesticides while 14% were detected with the non-approved pesticides. Queries sent to the health ministry remained unanswered.

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