KHRA files petition in HC against raids and fines by health department

Following the continuous levying of raids and fines by the state health department, the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA) filed a petition in the High Court against it.

Hoteliers and food establishments claim that the food business in the southern state is in crisis mode due to the illegal actions of the health department and conflicting health laws.

The health department had a strong wave of inspections, which led to closing down many hotels in the state after infectious, diseases, such as cholera and hepatitis, spread across the state.

KHRA already has 48 cases pending in the High Court. These were filed against various corporations and municipalities across the state.

However, the association’s allegations was denied by the health department, which informed to continue with the food safety drive.

P K Jameela, director, Health Department, Kerala, said, “The health department is conducting inspections all over the state to discourage the unhygienic and unsanitary conditions of hotels and restaurants.”

“We have already taken stringent action against a number of food business operators which were found to be violating the rules,” she added.

“Anybody has the right to file a petition in the High Court, but we are more concerned about the health and well-being of the people in the state,” stated Jameela.

“If hotels are found causing infectious diseases like cholera or hepatitis, we have the right to shut it down immediately,” she added.

“The department is following all procedures to set up by law. But for severely unhygienic conditions, we have to take strong actions,” Jameela stated.

Jose Mohan, general secretary, KHRA, said, “Food business in Kerala is in crisis mode. Hotels, restaurants and food business is constantly raided and punished by food inspectors, health departments of both the state and local bodies.”

“The officers, under the commissioner of food safety, the state health department, corporations, municipalities and the district medical officers (DMO) all visit our hotels to check hygiene separately. Most of them impose fines and produce closure notices without following any legal procedures,” he added.

The Travancore-Cochin Public Health Act, 1955, and the Madras Public Health Act, 1939 are laws that enable the state authorities to take action against food firms.

But many provisions of these Acts are contradictory to the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, which controls the food safety of the whole country.

While the Madras Public Health Act, 1939, prevents many items from being refrigerated, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) permits many of them.

No hotel in the state is spreading diseases, as claimed by health department. The association wants to ensure the credibility and hygiene of hotels and public safety.

“We are working with the sense of social responsibility. We are not supporting any unhygienic conditions in hotels or restaurants,” Mohan stated.

“But we want food inspectors and other authorities to follow legal procedures in taking actions. Food inspectors come to hotels with the media and declare it as unhygienic for simple reasons and impose fines or closure notices,” he added.

“Food safety officers (FSO) have to first produce a notice for improvement, and then allow 14 days to improve the conditions. They also have to collect food samples and get it tested in food labs before imposing any fines,” Mohan stated.

Elderly Russians consume dairy out of habit and not for health reasons

Dairy products are a part of traditional food in Russia, and have deep roots in consumption patterns. “Products such as milk, kefir, sour cream and cottage cheese being a regular part of the diet,” stated a new report from Canadean.
 
While one of the main reasons driving the Russian dairy market is indulgence, dairy products can boast such age-aligned attributes as calcium for bone strength, protein for muscle mass and maintaining gut health, which match age-aligned needs, not just for youngsters, but older consumers as well.

Currently, the Russian dairy market offers many products targeted at younger generation. At the same time, there is lack of products specifically targeting those aged over 55, who consume dairy out of habit rather than health and age-aligned reasons.
 
Emphasis on healthy attributes of dairy
 
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, only half of those in Russia with the condition knew that dairy is the main source of calcium, while 36 per cent believe that dairy causes damage for older people.

As a result, manufacturers should consider using packaging, advertising and campaigns to educate consumers about the osteoporosis and dairy’s role in averting it.

According to Veronika Zhupanova, analyst at Canadean, “With careful marketing, manufacturers should encourage older consumers to increase the frequency of dairy consumption as a part of healthy and active life-style.”

Moreover, age-imposed needs motivate 15.6 per cent of the country’s total dairy consumption (the market is estimated to be worth $15.4 billion).

However, if the manufacturers can communicate the importance of dairy in old consumers’ diets, the influence could increase.
 
Importance of Vitamin D
 
However, consuming rich in calcium dairy may not be enough as calcium requires vitamin D to facilitate its absorption.

A significant proportion of Russia’s territory, especially in the north, has low insolation in winter, which puts its population at risk of lack of vitamin D.

To prevent this, manufacturers should launch dairy products rich both in calcium and vitamin D.

Russian manufacturer Valio launched the ProFeel range of yoghurt shakes, which contain vitamin D and less sugar, and are targeted at consumers who lead a healthy lifestyle.

According to Zhupanova, “Producers would benefit from launching seasonal editions, provided they educate consumers about the necessity of a diet change in winter.”

Sami Direct introduces Calci D Max, supplement to support bone health

Sami Direct launched Calci D Max, a proprietary food supplement to support bone health.

It is known to reduce the risk of bone fractures, which increase due to low bone mineral density.

It increases bone mineral density; facilitates calcium retention; maintains bone mass, stimulates bone protein synthesis, and enhances nutrient bio-availability.

Calci D Max is derived from calcium citrate malate, a water-soluble supplement, which facilitates calcium retention and maintains bone mass, and is the most bioavailable calcium form.

It contains Vitamin D3, which is derived from the fermentation process, and promotes the mineralisation of the bones.

Zinc monomethionine stimulates bone protein synthesis, and BioPerine (Sabinsa’s patented and standardised extract of black pepper) provides a nutrient bio-availability enhancer, which ensures the improved absorption of the nutrients through the digestive process.

The key issues which lead to the poor health of the bones include poor physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, a poor diet and genetic and hormonal factors.

Calcium is mostly available in the market as calcium carbonate, a very poorly bio-available ingredient.

However, calcium citrate malate and the other ingredients in Calci D Max have proven to be bio-available and to maintain good bone health.

Dr Muhammed Majeed, founder and chairman, Sami Group, said, “Calcium is a vital mineral which helps in building of new bone and is not produced by your body, but from your dietary intake.”

“The function of dietary calcium is largely defined in terms of bone mineralisation and the resultant density and strength of the skeleton,” he added.

“Clinical studies have verified that daily intake of health supplements, such as those rich in calcium citrate malate and other suitable ingredients have proven to maintain good bone health,” Dr Majeed stated.

“Daily intake of Calci D Max, a combination of calcium citrate malate, Vitamin D3, zinc monomethionine and BioPerine, provides adequate bone mineral density and further reduces the risk of bone fractures,” he added.

FSA investigation into poultry plants

The FSA has been following up the evidence highlighted by The Guardian’s investigations at 2 Sisters plants in Anglesey and Scunthorpe.
This has included reviewing the video footage and photographs of three specific incidents at the plants and checking these against our own records. We are satisfied that the specific problems at the plants were addressed in an appropriate manner by the business at the time and did not present a food safety risk.
However, The Guardian investigation highlighted broader concerns about practices at the plants, including chickens that have fallen onto the floor being put back on production lines. Given these allegations we are conducting audits and investigations at the plants. These are underway today (Friday) and the findings will be published in due course.
We have been reiterating our advice to consumers that campylobacter can occur on chickens even when the highest standards of farming and processing are followed. Consumers should follow good hygiene practice at home, including not washing raw chicken, to minimise the risk. We continue to work with the industry to ensure that steps are taken to reduce the levels of campylobacter on chicken sold or served in the UK.
Source : http://www.food.gov.uk

FSA Board decision on raw milk

The FSA Board has today asked for the FSA to maintain the current regulations controlling the sale of raw milk, while further evidence is gathered to allow board members to make a final decision on whether to revise the rules.
Following a review of the current raw milk regulations, the FSA had proposed exploring the scope for wider access to raw milk, including limited sales from vending machines in shops.
The proposals were discussed today by the Board. They concluded that additional evidence was required on risks from specific pathogens. More detail was also requested on the proposed testing regime that would be necessary to allow extended sales while maintaining consumer protection. The Board said a final decision should not be made until the European Food Safety Authority has delivered the findings of its own review of the risks from raw milk which is expected in December 2014.
The FSA will now consider the conclusions in more detail and agree a timeframe for delivering the additional work the Board has requested.

FSA Board to consider proposals for the sale of raw or unpasteurised milk

The FSA Board is being asked to consider new proposals for the sale of raw, or unpasteurised, milk. These would include exploring the scope for wider access to raw milk, including limited sales from vending machines in shops, and changes to hygiene controls.
The proposals are set out in a board paper published today. They follow an extensive review of the current raw milk controls and a public consultation launched in January.
The review found that the current controls are managing the potential risks associated with drinking raw milk. There was also strong support from existing consumers and producers for continued, wider and controlled access to raw milk.
Selling raw milk from vending machines placed in shops is currently not allowed, although they can be placed on farm premises. Subject to the FSA Board's agreement, the FSA would begin discussing with raw milk producers the practicalities of vending machine sales in shops, and any additional controls that might be required to ensure that the risks are being managed.
Steve Wearne, Head of Policy at the Food Standards Agency, said:
'Throughout this review process we have sought to balance consumer protection with consumer choice. It is clear that the current raw milk regulations have worked well to control the risks from raw milk. We are not advising that these controls should be removed completely as they are necessary for continued consumer protection. However, we believe there is the opportunity for us to make changes which balance modest liberalisation of sales with controls on production that ensure continued consumer protection.'
The proposals cover England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Sale of raw milk is banned in Scotland.
The FSA launched a four-month consultation on the raw milk regulations in January. This included a raw milk stakeholder event held in Central London on 31st March. More than 140 people gathered to take part in the discussion and hear speakers including representatives of the FSA, raw milk producers and consumers, Dairy UK and scientists.

Indian Beverage Association sore on excise duty hike on aerated drinks

The Indian Beverage Association (IBA) was taken aback at the Centre’s 2014-15 Budget move to hike the excise duty on aerated drinks with added sugar by five per cent.

In a statement issued after the Budget was announced, IBA’s spokesperson said, “We are extremely shocked by the retrograde budget proposal of a five per cent hike in excise duty on aerated drinks with added sugar.”

“The soft drinks industry is already one of the highest-taxed categories in the country. The combined impact of Central value-added tax (CENVAT) and state VAT rates reaches 34 per cent in eight states in the country,” he added.

“Coming on top of the current 12 per cent rate, the additional five per cent duty increase would be tantamount to a 40 per cent increase in the central excise duty which would hit the industry hard, and cause a major slowdown at a time when demand growth for the industry has been sluggish,” the spokesperson stated.

“The carbonated soft drinks industry is a key segment of the food processing sector in India. It is a significant user of agri products and, with its high labour intensity, contributes significantly to agricultural growth and employment,” he pointed out.

“With a ratio of direct to indirect employment of 1:4, similar to that of the software industry, the industry’s developmental impact is not adequately appreciated,” the spokesperson added.

“Currently, the industry employs over 3,00,000 people, and if there is a conducive environment for growth the industry has the potential to grow at double-digit rates, and can contribute more than a million additional jobs over the next decade.,” he pointed out.

It must also be understood that in a country where options of safe, convenient and hygienic beverages are rather limited, carbonated soft drinks play a very important role in meeting the hydration needs of people.

With this hike in excise duty, the industry will have no option but to increase the price of its products. An increase in price will also fuel the growth of beverage options from the spurious and unorganised sector which, on the one hand, poses significant risk to public health, and on the other, will take away tax revenue from the government.

IBA, in its statement, has urged the government to reverse this hike, as it will retard the progress of an industry which could have a significant positive impact on India’s development, particularly in the changed governance scenario in the country.

FSSAI will help food service sector in resolving licencing issues: CEO

Addressing National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) in New Delhi representatives recently, D K Samantaray, chief executive officer, Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) assured that the regulator would help the food service industry resolve all issues pertaining to licencing and registration, sampling and enforcement.

Emphasising on the larger participation of all stakeholders, he said that there was no place for Inspector Raj in the food sector, and the entire idea of the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, was capacity-building, training and implementing it through participation.

Samantaray urged the stakeholders to help FSSAI in making the entire food chain, from farm to fork, secure. “The challenges are difficult, as the food does not merely contain viruses, but it now contains heavy metals, antibiotics and veterinary drugs as well, and therefore, the participation of primary producers (i.e. farmers) is also needed,” he added.

He also emphasised the need for back-end infrastructure like laboratory testing facilities for farmers that would educate and enable them to reduce the risk of overdose of chemicals during farming.

During the interaction, Samir Kuckreja, president, NRAI, said that the purposes of holding the interaction were to spread awareness about the Act and to discuss the challenges being faced by the industry in relation to the implementation of the various regulations under the Act.

He said, “The food service industry is a decent contributor to the public exchequer with an estimated contribution of Rs 11,500 crore towards taxes in 2013. This is projected to double by 2018 to nearly Rs 24,600 crore.”

“The industry successfully engaged with FSSAI and resolved many issues, including filing of returns, the list of documents to be submitted, checklists for inspectors, etc. NRAI has also taken up issues like the reduction of the appeal time to designated officers from 30 days to seven days,” Kuckreja added.

He said that he believed the new food safety laws were forward-thinking and ambitious, while the regulations should be aimed at helping the industry and not be overbearing in procedural issues which detract from core business.

We are urging the public to stop washing raw chicken

We have issued a call for people to stop washing raw chicken to reduce the risk of contracting campylobacter, a potentially dangerous form of food poisoning. The call comes as new figures show that 44% of people always wash chicken before cooking it – a practice that can spread campylobacter bacteria onto hands, work surfaces, clothing and cooking equipment through the splashing of water droplets.
Campylobacter is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK, affecting an estimated 280,000 people a year. Around four in five of these cases come from contaminated poultry. The resulting illness can cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and vomiting. In certain cases, it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a serious condition of the nervous system. At its worst, it can kill. Those most at risk are children under five and older people.
As part of the call – which comes at the start of this year’s Food Safety Week – the FSA has written to production companies that make food programmes, asking them to ensure that people aren’t shown washing raw chicken on TV. The letter, which can be found via the link towards the bottom of this page, has been co-signed by all of the major food retailers.
FSA Chief Executive, Catherine Brown, said: 'Although people tend to follow recommended practice when handling poultry, such as washing hands after touching raw chicken and making sure it is thoroughly cooked, our research has found that washing raw chicken is also common practice. That’s why we’re calling on people to stop washing raw chicken and also raising awareness of the risks of contracting campylobacter as a result of cross-contamination.
'Campylobacter is a serious issue. Not only can it cause severe illness and death, but it costs the economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year as a result of sickness absence and the burden on the NHS. Telling the public about the risks and how to avoid them is just one part of our plan to tackle campylobacter. We are leading a campaign that brings together the whole food chain, which includes working with farmers and producers to reduce rates of campylobacter in flocks of broiler chickens and ensuring that slaughterhouses and processors are taking steps to minimise the levels of contamination in birds. We are committed to acting on campylobacter and providing safer food for the nation.'
The survey commissioned by the FSA found that levels of awareness of campylobacter are well below that of other forms of food poisoning. More than 90% of the public have heard of salmonella and E.coli, whereas only 28% of people know about campylobacter. Furthermore, of the people who have heard of campylobacter, only 31% of them know that poultry is the main source of the bacteria.
The most cited reasons people gave for washing chicken were the removal of dirt (36%), getting rid of germs (36%) and that that they had always done it (33%).
Ann Edwards, 67, from Hertfordshire contracted campylobacter in 1997 and is still living with the consequences today. She said: 'After contracting campylobacter poisoning, I was ill for a week before being admitted to hospital with bladder failure. I couldn’t eat and was so de-hydrated that I lost almost two stones in weight. Shortly after, I developed Guillain-Barré syndrome which left me paralysed from the chest down. I was in hospital for seven weeks and even now – 17 years later – I have no movement in my toes and rely on a walking stick. Physically, it has been the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I urge anyone who is handling chicken to take care and follow the advice given by the Food Standards Agency.'

FIR against poultry farms in Haryana for spreading infectious diseases

The Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) took action against 21 poultry farms in Barwala Block of Panchkula District, where conditions were unhygienic, for violating pollution control norms and spreading diseases.

While a first information report (FIR) was registered against some, HSPCB ordered that ten farms be shut down and sent notices to eleven others. The residents of Barwala and nearby villages protested the unhygienic conditions and the growth of houseflies.

Barwala Block is one of the largest poultry farm belts in North India, with more than 150 farms in and around the village. Poultry farmers in the region are going through an difficult phase, as both the government and the public have turned against their business.

Last year, HSPCB has tightened their norms for poultry farms to control waste management in the state. The state government asked poultries to adopt modern sanitary methods to prevent the contamination and pollution caused by poultry waste.

Most of the tight norms issued by HSPCB in May 2013 made the poultry business expensive. The owners of the farms were instructed to spray insecticides around the farms to avoid the breeding of flies.

The growth of flies resulted in a number of health issues in the villages and surrounding areas. Officials blame the unscientific practices followed by the poultry owners while dealing with the wastes produced in the farms.

On the condition of anonymity, a poultry farmer in Panchwala district said, “Poultry is an important industry in Haryana. Poultry farmers in the state are taking steps to avoid the breeding of flies and the consequent health issues.”

“No farmer in the state is interested in increasing the growth of flies. This happens because of the waste produced by poultry. The government has laid down some rules and norms to control this, but most of them are impractical and expensive,” he added.

“The government should help farmers in managing poultry waste instead of registering cases against them. The poultry industry in Haryana would face a setback if such incidents occur again. Farmers would be discouraged from and fear entering poultry,” the farmer stated.

Nirmal Kashyap, regional officer, Panchkula, HSPCB, said, “With more than 150 poultry farms, Barwala is an important belt for the poultry industry. We have provided guidelines to the poultries to control pollution and manage waste produced.”

“HSPCB is pulling up 21 poultry farms in Barwala for violating pollution norms. Flies spread diseases in the villages near the poultry farms. Poultry farms should be stick to HSPCB norms to control pollution and health problems in the state,” he added.

“Paramjeet Saini, deputy public relations officer, Panchkula district, said, “FIR have been filed against most of the poultry farms that violated rules. Waste management is an important part of the poultry business.”

“Farm owners have to be careful about pollution, poultry farm produce lot of waste. The improper and unscientific management of waste and poultry products can lead to health issues, including various diseases,” he added.

“The breeding of houseflies is one of such problem. The district administration would take strict action against any violation of norms and curb health problems. We have instructed farmers to use insecticides to stop the breeding of flies,” Saini stated.

Food and Drug Administration closes two more packaged water plants

PUNE: Officials of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closed down two packaged drinking water plants located in Pimple Gurav and Malwadi as they were operating without licences.
"The owners have been directed not to operate the plants till they meet all the required compliances," said Shashikant Kekare, joint commissioner (food), FDA.
Licences from the Bureau of Indian Standards and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India are prerequisites to run a packaged drinking water plant.
Food safety officials Sachin Adhav, Rajendra Kakde and Avinash Dabhade carried out the raids under the guidance of assistant commissioners Dilip Sangat and Shivkumar Kodgire.
"We have also drawn samples of the processed water and sent them for testing," Sangat said. On June 23, the FDA had closed down three packaged drinking water plants in Baramati for operating without licences.

Water pouches seized

WATER SACHETS SEIZED
Food Safety and Drug Administration Department authorities seized water sachets that were manufactured and sold without proper certification in and around Melur on Thursday. According to J. Suguna, Designated Officer for Food Safety and Drug Administration, 7,500 water sachets were seized from six manufacturing units and two shops that sold them. “The units we inspected had not obtained permission to manufacture water sachets and the ones seized from the shops did not have date of manufacture and other details,” she said. The inspections were carried out in Melur, Thiruvathavur, Mathur and Narasingampatti. Thirty-five shops were inspected, Dr. Suguna added.

Tea Board for strict adherence to food safety standards

In a bid to retain the markets of developed buying countries, Tea Board today asked the tea industry to strictly adhere to food safety standards.
"The importance of need for food safety cannot be overemphasised. Developed buying countries are putting stringent conditions on ensuring food safety which Indian producers will have to follow," Tea Board chairman Siddharth said at the AGM of the Calcutta Tea Traders Association (CTTA) here.
He said conditions imposed by countries like US and EU can't be ignored but would have to be honoured as these were major export destinations.
However, Siddharth said the trade missions located abroad are very active in pleading to the governments of these countries to do away with such non-tariff or technical barriers, adding that any retaliatory action by 
India would not yield result.
Siddharth said the Tea Board was also working on new schemes and policies for production and marketing.
He also informed that the Price Stabilisation Fund of Rs 500 crore created by the government 10 years back and which got expired in 2013, was being re-activated and could be used for protecting major price fall in commodities, including tea.

Food and Drug Administration closes two more packaged water plants

PUNE: Officials of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closed down two packaged drinking water plants located in Pimple Gurav and Malwadi as they were operating without licences.

"The owners have been directed not to operate the plants till they meet all the required compliances," said Shashikant Kekare, joint commissioner (food), FDA.

Licences from the Bureau of Indian Standards and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India are prerequisites to run a packaged drinking water plant.

Food safety officials Sachin Adhav, Rajendra Kakde and Avinash Dabhade carried out the raids under the guidance of assistant commissioners Dilip Sangat and Shivkumar Kodgire.

"We have also drawn samples of the processed water and sent them for testing," Sangat said. On June 23, the FDA had closed down three packaged drinking water plants in Baramati for operating without licences.