The district food safety department has initiated a drive against the use of prohibited ela mati (yellow ochre) on potatoes.
Ochre is a natural clay earth pigment, a mixture of ferric oxide and varying amounts of clay and sand.
In Hooghly district, in 90,000 hectares of agricultural land area potatoes are cultivated with an output of 40 lakh metric tonnes.
The coating of potatoes with yellow ochre is a common practice in potato wholesale markets.
Progotosil Aloo Babsayai Samity state chairman Lalu Mukherjee said ela mati is a natural soil with yellow texture found in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and other states also. “It is mixed with brick dust, a thin film of coating of the mixture is applied on the potatoes to make it more appealing to the customers since untimely showers, waterlogging in the potato agricultural land leaves a permanent un-appealing scar on the outer surface of the potatoes. Even the farm fresh, good quality potatoes with scars on its outer surface, is rejected by customers. The mixture of yellow ochre and brick dust does not possess any health hazards, but the yellow ochre is only used whenever the untimely rains, waterlogging and inclement weather spoils the outer texture of the potatoes. We do not encourage or support the use of yellow ochre as a regular practice.”
The Haripal and Singur block food department officer Arghyadeep Nath said as per the food safety regulations no colour or any external agent is permissible as a external coating on fresh food and vegetables, the ela mati is mixed with brick dust and some anti-sprouting agent to make the potatoes more appealing to the customers, even the partially-rotten potatoes get masked by the ela mati mixture. Hence, the use of ela mati mixture is completely prohibited.
A special drive is being conducted in the district at vegetable mandis and wholesale markets and strict directives are being issued against the use of ela mati mixture.
CM to honour Burdwan farmers:
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is set to felicitate a bunch of ‘successful farmers’ from different parts of East Burdwan, state’s rice bowl, on 27 June.
“She will address the farmers from the permanent Mati Utsav (Earth Festival) dais on 27 June afternoon and then will offer state’s ‘Krishak Samman’ to a group of farmers those marked their individual achievements significant to the district agriculture department,” said Shampa Dhara, sabhadhipati of East Burdwan zilla parishad today.
She said, “After the Mati Utsav programme, she’s likely to address a public meeting in Burdwan town that day.”