The jaggery has been sent back by the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation and will be replaced across the state soon, officials said.

A mound of big jaggery pieces in a godownFlickr | Giridhar Appaji Nag Y
news Food safety Saturday, January 15, 2022 - 14:29

After complaints were raised that the jaggery distributed in Tamil Nadu as part of the government’s Pongal hampers were of poor quality, the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC) has reportedly returned a hundred tonnes of jaggery to the suppliers. TNCSC Managing Director S Prabhakaran told IANS that the spoiled jaggery was being sent back, and that in several districts of the state, the jaggery that was reported to be spoiled was replaced. “We have asked the manufacturers to take the spoiled lot and replace them with fresh loads in the districts where it has not yet been replaced", he said.

The TNCSC Managing Director also said that inspections were being carried out at various godowns of the suppliers and other items like pepper that are of poor quality are also being replaced. The state had sanctioned a total of Rs 1,297 crore to distribute Pongal gift hampers, comprising 21 items, to 2.16 crore ration cardholders in the state. Shopkeepers and merchants alleged that sugar was mixed with some of the jaggery lot. As sugar has a much shorter shelf life, by the time it reached the consumers, it was reportedly spoiled.

An office-bearer of the Tamil Nadu Merchants Association told IANS, "The government had a good intention to provide gift hampers with 21 items for the people of the state who are using rice ration cards. However, the officials have looked the other way round, or else such a situation wherein a large quantity of jaggery is replaced from the gift hamper does not arise. He further said that stringent checks have to be carried out at the godowns of those who are supplying items in Pongal gift hampers.

However, in response to this, the Tamil Nadu Food Safety department maintained that the jaggery that is being supplied is safe for consumption, even though the shape of the jaggery may be irregular. Tamil Nadu Food Grains Manufacturing Association’s president SP Jayaparakasam told IANS, "If we traders had sold such semi-solid shapeless jaggery, we would have been taken to task by the Food Safety Department. Similar action must be taken against those responsible. Jaggery laced with sugar does not deserve to be called jaggery."

TNCSC Managing Director said that the last batch of Pongal gift hampers were distributed on Thursday and all the cardholders will receive the Pongal gift hampers with the replaced jaggery in a couple of days. According to a TNIE report, the hampers were to be distributed in ‘Pongal gift bags’, which were reported to be out of stock in Chennai and several other districts since January 10. It stated that about 10% of beneficiaries are yet to receive the bags, and that they have been asked to pick them up from ration shops by next Monday (January 17).

(With IANS inputs)

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