Mumbai: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has rapped the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) over the callous attitude towards public health. The FDA doesn’t have sufficient staff to inspect drug establishments across the state. It has also failed to ensure the good health of the public owing to non-appointment of assistant commissioners of food and food safety officers (FSOs) in all districts of the state. It could hold only two meetings in two districts in last five years.
According to CAG, the State Level Steering Committee under the Food Safety and Standards Regulations 2011, met only twice during 2012-17. Of 30 district offices, meetings were not held in 28 district offices during 2012-17.
The survey was not undertaken to develop a database on Food Business Operators (FBOs). Against the estimated 16.86 lakh FBOs in the State, only 9.43 lakh (56 per cent) were registered/licensed as of March 2017.
It also pointed out that the Drug Division offices were functioning by giving additional charge to assistant commissioners while drug inspectors were also given additional charge of assistant commissioners. There was a shortfall of 37 per cent in the post of drug inspectors.
The report also says, “FDA had failed to take action to cancel the licences of 1,535 drug selling units whose licences had expired but nor renewed or cancelled. Such act of the government agency is posing a risk to public health by the possible sale of drugs by such units.”
Pointing the fingers at FDA for not inspecting drug selling units, the CAG said that the renewal of drug selling licences was done without inspection of the premises of selling units. Inspection or survey was not done to verify that drug selling or manufacturing units were not involved in any activities during the suspension period.
It also said that there were serious shortfalls in the inspection of FBOs, Drugs manufacturing and selling units. The shortfall was to the extent of 35 per cent in the case of drug manufacturing units and 63 per cent in the case of selling units.
The CAG also highlighted the apathy of FDA for not testing the food meant for infants.
“Samples of infant food, instant milk substitutes, meat and fish products, fruits and vegetables were not taken for testing. Besides, microbiological tests for food samples were not carried out as there was no microbiological division and thus, pathogenic bacteria and yeast could not be tested raising serious food safety concerns.
Tests to analyse the contents of metals, toxic substance, and insecticides articles were also not being done due to non-availability of requisite equipment,” the report stated.