Display contact details for food safety officials outside stores, according to HC

The Madras High Court on Thursday ordered the Food Safety Commissioner to ensure that WhatsApp complaint numbers, phone numbers and email addresses of affected officials are prominently displayed outside of every restaurant, restaurant, grocery store and other establishments dealing with food products.

Judge SM Subramaniam has ordered that time limits be prescribed for officials to take action against complaints received from consumers and that they should be responsible for prosecuting offenders. Officers who do not respond promptly to complaints should be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

The commissioner was also tasked with raising public awareness of the harmful consequences of consuming adulterated food and of their right to lodge a complaint with those responsible for food safety. The instructions were issued while dismissing a plea by a dhania trader (coriander).

The trader had taken court action against him for the sale of adulterated products dhania, found to contain chemicals above prescribed limits. Shocked by the adulteration of an essential ingredient in Indian cuisine, the judge asked for data regarding the food adulteration lawsuits. He found that officials were only doing a random inspection and that there was no mechanism in place for consumers to access agent phone numbers and file complaints immediately. Therefore, he ordered that the complaints mechanism be made effective and widely promoted.