A large number of food and liquor items sold to service personnel and defence civilians by Canteen Stores Department (CSD) through its about 4000 Unit Run Canteens (URCs) have been found to be ‘unfit’ for consumption.
Citing a specific instance wherein a large stock of unchecked substandard beer was sold to customers, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in its report laid in both houses of Parliament on 10 March, stated: “Audit apprehension about issue of substandard items was established by an instance when a sample of Kingfisher beer referred to laboratory for testing in January 2014, by Area Depot Baghdogra (through Area Depot Delhi) was found unfit for consumption.”
During audit the CAG found that despite being found unfit for consumption the stock of beer worth Rs 8.43 lakh was already sold to the customers, mainly defence personnel and defence civilians.
The report pointed out that despite the mandatory 100 per cent sample testing of food and liquor items, in a number of instances such products are being sold without going through the laid down quality checking procedure.
Underlining the seriousness of the issue, the CAG noted: “Given the fact that some of samples were fond unfit during tests, there is likelihood that some of the remaining food items issued and consumed without testing might not be of standard quality. This reflects that the depots failed in assuring the quality of food products issued to URCs and finally to the consumers.”
The matter related to the poor quality of food and liquor items was subsequently referred to the DDGCS for its opinion. The DDGCS came out with its response in July 2016, which the CAG said was ‘not convincing’. The CAG pointed out that the number of food and liquor testing labs has also come down to three from six.
“The issue assumes serious significance in light of the fact that 46 per cent of the food samples were found substandard. These verdicts raise question marks about the credibility of the companies being introduced and the quality of food products supplied by them (to CDS and URCs),” the report further underlined. It underlined the need for putting in place an ‘effective mechanism’ to ensure effective implementation of the quality control measures at all levels of the supply chain in CSD and URCs.