Food safety watchdog faces staff shortage

NEW DELHI : The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has an acute shortage of designated officers (DOs) and food safety officers (FSOs) who are key to ensuring food safety compliance.

Ideally each district should have one DO. But, against a sanctioned strength of 855 DOs, only 656 are in service. Also, against a sanctioned strength of 4,029 FSOs, there are only 2,537.

According to the information available, authorities are making do with a DO shortage ranging from 5 to 80% in 12 states. Data available with FSSAI also shows that 247 DOs work part-time.

Andhra Pradesh has only 9 DOs against the 17 sanctioned, Haryana has 6 against 22, Maharashtra 44 against 90, and Telangana 9 against 35. Delhi has eight officers and four posts are lying vacant. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Assam are managing with part-time officers.

Queries sent to the FSSAI spokesperson remained unanswered till press time.

Recently, the Union health ministry said FSSAI has been regularly persuading states and UTs to appoint the requisite number of full-time DOs, FSOs and other technical staff to ensure food safety compliance.

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