Think twice before you bite into a samosa or a piece of chicken pakoda or gulp down a plate of chowmein. There is no guarantee that you are not eating stale and unhealthy food. It is because; as many as 43 food safety officer posts are lying vacant across the state.
In Jeypore city of Koraput district, roadside kiosks, stalls and restaurants selling fast food and snacks are mushrooming. Hundreds of people buy food items from them regularly, without giving a thought to the quality of the food they are having. And there is also none to check the quality of the food items being sold at these kiosks.
There is no food safety officer in Koraput and the district is under the food safety officer of Malkangiri district. This means the quality of food items, ingredients and oil can only be checked when the Malkangiri’s food safety officer makes himself available for Koraput district.
“Koraput and Malkangiri are not small districts. There is a single food safety officer for these two districts. So I feel he isn’t able to do his job properly. Who will be held responsible if we become ill after eating foods from these stalls, kiosks and restaurants,” said a Jeypore resident, Sanjay Kumar Suar.
When asked, Jeypore municipality’s executive officer, Siddharth Patnaik said, “Whenever we get complaints about low-quality food items, we inform the food safety officer of Malkangiri, who is in charge of Koraput district. The officer then conducts raids.”
In Rourkela city, there are three food safety officers. But considering the size of the ever-growing city, it should have more such officers. Because of this, in most cases, unscrupulous eatery owners doing business in unhealthy surroundings manage to escape.
“We are three food safety officers. We are carrying out regular checks in our respective zones. Yet, we are not able to keep a tab on eateries in comparatively smaller areas,” admitted Rourkela food safety officer, Swagatika Behera.
If one consumes unhealthy food items for a long period, he/she will become prone to stomach-related diseases. The risk of cancer is also there.
“Even adolescents are suffering from obesity. This is because they are consuming items that have broiler chicken as the main ingredient. The growth hormone in broiler chickens is responsible for their increasing weight. Weight gain will give rise to the risk of cancer, diabetes, blood pressure and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr BK Mishra.
When asked about the situation across the state, Dr Snehalata Sahu, director of food safety, said, ‘There are two food safety officers in each district. There are a total of 62 officers in the state. We are also planning to recruit eight more this year.”
Notably, the total number of food safety officer posts created for the state is 105. Of them, 43 are lying vacant.