Kathmandu: Sub-standard and adulterated beverages are being sold in the capital and in other cities, government studies have revealed.
Tests carried out by the Food Technology and Quality Control Department found adulteration in water, milk, clarified butter and cooking oil. Senior Food Officer Pramod Koirala said that harmful micro-organisms were found in most food items. "The problem is even worse in water," he said.
The department tested samples from across the country in the last few months. The results revealed a higher degree of adulteration in liquid as compared to solid food. Koirala said that some branded milk and bottled water even contained micro-organisms found in stool.
Of the 302 samples of liquid and solid food collected in four months, 60 samples were found to be sub-standard. Most were bottled water samples.
Even bottled water manufacturers admit that there is adulteration in most brands. The secretary of the Nepal Bottled Water Industries Association said, "There are problems in many products. We are committed to improving them." He also said that the problem arises from the manufacturers' ignorance of government standards. "Most don't even know they have to get permission to manufacture."
Bottled water manufacturers are required to obtain a quality validation letter from the Food Technology and Quality Control Department, but most have not done so.
The department has claimed that it will be taking action against manufacturers that do not meet government standards. According to the Food Act, industries failing to meet standards can be fined upto Rs 5000 and slapped with a jail term of two years. Punishment can increase depending on the harm to public health. But to date, no one has been punished for violating standards.