Over one-fifth of all food samples tested in India’s government labs in the last year were found to be fake or adulterated, according to numbers compiled from various state government food testing facilities by union government’s department of consumer affairs.
Exempting Gujarat, which accounted for nearly 23% of the samples, the total percentage of fake and adulterated food items was 25.6%.
A total of 65,833 food samples were tested across the country at various state government operated laboratories during last financial year and 14,283 were found to be either mixed with inferior substances or were not what they were claiming to be.
The tests cover both packaged food items — which are tested for whether they are fake or genuine — and non-packaged food items, which are tested for adulteration and quality.
Tests are usually carried out by the labs when samples are submitted by health officials after raids and inspections at hotels, retail stores and warehouses.
UTTAR PRADESH LEADS
The state-wise break-up of the data revealed that Uttar Pradesh was the state where the highest number of deviations were noticed, both on an absolute scale as well as in percentage terms.
In fact, Uttar Pradesh’s health department was the most active in terms of collecting and examining food samples, while West Bengal performed the worst in terms of conducting such checks.
Like Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh accounted for 22.5% of the total samples tested during the year.
However, while in Gujarat, only 8.3% of the samples were found to be either fake or adulterated, in Uttar Pradesh, the detection rate was 48.5%. Out of the 14,833 samples tested, 7,189 were found fake or adulterated.
This was far higher than the detection rates in neighboring states like Delhi (16%), Haryana (9%) and Madhya Pradesh (13%).
In fact, its eastern neighbor Bihar — with which it is often hyphenated because of cultural similarities — reported a detection rate of just 2.4%.
Out of the 2,032 samples collected in Bihar, only 1,447 were tested, and out of these, 1,412 were found to be genuine.
In Madhya Pradesh, 9,994 samples were tested and only 1,311 were found to be fake or adulterated.
Other states where detection rates were high include Tamil Nadu (34%), Chhattisgarh (29%) and Maharashtra (25%).
In West Bengal, only 154 samples were tested during the entire year — which made it rank at the bottom on an all India level in terms of tests carried out.
The lowest levels of fake and adulterated foods were detected by laboratories in the North East.
All of the five samples tested in Sikkim and all the 67 samples tested in Manipur during the year turned out to be genuine.
Tripura (2%) and Meghalaya (4.6%) also had low rates of detection.