The High Court directive to the government that it immediately stop import, distribution and sale of fruits, groceries and other edibles treated with formalin, carbide or any other toxic chemical couldn't have come a day later. How safe the food we eat is of utmost importance to public health but this has for long been neglected or at best approached on an ad-hoc basis.
The HC has also directed the authorities concerned to supply sea and land ports and the markets under city corporations with testing kits. So that they can check the items before these are allowed into the country or sold.
Already a few markets have installed the testing devices with reasonable amount of success, albeit on a limited scale. There is indeed so much more to be done to ensure that people consume safe, chemical hazard-free food. Their well-being and productivity are associated with this.
There are a plenty of laws to contain adulteration of foods and to regulate their distribution; only that such legal provisions are scarcely enforced. Some very stern measures including death penalty are in place but these could not scare the adulterators away from their devious practices. However, as well as raising mass awareness through media campaigns about the dangers of consuming hazardous foods, people would have to be motivated to seek recourse to law and institutional mechanisms to redress their grievances.
Testing is a fundamental aspect in the whole process which ranges further from stopping unauthorised imports of chemicals through supervising their use to keeping tab on the wholesale and retail networks. This is a tall order demanding well-coordinated efforts by all agencies including particularly port authorities, testing laboratories and city corporations.
Furthermore, cooperation of the industry and chamber bodies who have a say over the working of the wholesale and retail outlets should be a necessary part of the comprehensive strategy we need to adopt and implement to effectively fend off poisoning of foods.