Kerala minister accused of sheltering baby food firms

March 18th, 2008 - 7:39 pm ICT by admin  

Thiruvananthapuram, March 18 (IANS) Kerala’s opposition parties Tuesday accused Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi of going soft on two companies manufacturing baby food items without license. The entire opposition walked out of the assembly after Speaker K. Radhakrishnan refused permission for an adjournment motion to discuss the issue.

Seeking to move the adjournment motion, Congress legislator V.D. Satheesan said Sreemathi had taken law in her hands by directing food inspectors not to take action against these two companies, despite objections raised by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

“During February and August last year, the BIS had written to the state health department that a Kerala company was manufacturing a baby food product called ‘Babyvita’ without necessary license. She then gave 90 days’ time to another company manufacturing ‘Ragitone’ to get the necessary certificates. This is a criminal offence and violation of the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act,” said Satheeshan.

In reply, Sreemathi said that despite several warnings from authorities, the earlier Congress-led government in 2001-06 had failed to ban feeding bottles that did not meet the prescribed standards.

“It was only after we (Left Democratic Front) came to power that we banned such products. We are aware that you are taking up this cause for the welfare of multinational companies that have been badly hit by the sales of our own Kerala companies,” said Sreemathi.

Before leading the opposition members out of the house, Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy said: “Which rule in the PFA Act allows a minister to give time to correct a wrong? The BIS had written to you twice and you are sleeping on that and allowed these companies to go scot-free. This is a grave lapse on your part.”

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