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Inadequate fund hits food inspection drive

  Mobile lab utilisation yet to begin

HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE

KATHMANDU: Fund crunch has hit Department of Food Technology and Quality Control’s initiative to inspect food quality on-the spot.

“We have not mobilised mobile lab due to fund crisis,” said director general of department Jeevan Prabha Lama. The department has to pay Rs 572,000 road tax to the government before mobilising the mobile lab. “But we don’t have budget,” she said, adding despite frequent requests the government did not provide budget for the utilisation of mobile lab.

The department has requested to Ministry of Agriculture Development to provide the road tax three days ago, she said, “But, we didn’t have any response.” However, the department has paid about Rs 100,000 to Department of Custom to release the mobile lab from the customs point.

The UNIDO has supported the lab to ease food inspection when the food adulteration was around 20 per cent. The department believed that food adulteration will decrease to half once on-the-spot inspection started in the valley; Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts. The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) has granted a mobile laboratory to inspect food quality in market in April.

A mobile lab is a simple laboratory, where a food technician can immediately test food adulteration through a simple chemical test, though the lab does not have facility for biological and micronutrient tests because those tests are complicated in nature and consume too much time.

The Food Act 1967 has provided food inspectors the authority to punish those involved in adulteration. According to the law, any person who produces, sells, exports or imports adulterated food could be punished with a fine of Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000.

It had planned to mobilise mobile lab in Dashain but it did not materialise as they could not not pay road tax. “Still, we don’t have bill book of the truck that carries mobile lab.” “UNIDO will hand over it once we pay the road tax.” UNIDO, which gifted the mobile lab, has also provided technical training to food inspectors. It also sent half of dozen food inspectors on study visit to Thailand to observe workings of a mobile lab.

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