Food safety watchdog faces staff shortage

Only 656 of the 855 DOs authorised are in service. In addition, there are only 2,537 FSOs, despite a sanctioned strength of 4,029 FSOs.

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The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is suffering from a severe shortage of designated officers (DOs) and food safety officers (FSOs), both of whom are critical to guaranteeing food safety compliance.

Each district should ideally have one DO. However, only 656 of the 855 DOs authorised are in service. Furthermore, there are only 2,537 FSOs, despite a sanctioned strength of 4,029 FSOs.

According to current data, authorities in 12 states are dealing with a DO scarcity ranging from 5 to 80%. The FSSAI data also reveals that 247 DOs work part-time.

Andhra Pradesh has 9 DOs vs the 17 sanctioned, Haryana has 6 versus 22, Maharashtra 44 versus 90, and Telangana 9 versus 35. Delhi has eight officers, with four positions open. Part-time officers are used in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Assam.

Until press time, questions forwarded to the FSSAI spokeswoman went unanswered.

The Union Health Ministry has said that FSSAI has been frequently pushing states and UTs to appoint the required number of full-time DOs, FSOs, and other technical professionals to guarantee food safety compliance.