The forensic science experts, generally associated with an analysis of evidence on crime scenes have been roped in by Gujarat State Civil Supplies Corporation (GSCSC) Ltd to assure quality control of the food grains meant for purposes such as midday meal scheme and public distribution system.

Directorate of Forensic Sciences (DFS) has set up a Food Research Laboratory (FRL) at its premises in Gandhinagar. With the move, Gujarat has become the first state in India to rope in forensic science expertise for the purpose.

Manish Bharadwaj, managing director of GSCSC, said that there were major complaints of quality control in the procurement and distribution. In the trial run itself, we found issues in dal and cotton-seed oil. The government decided to adopt extensive measures for scientific quality checks as issues were found even in NAFED-approved samples.

The move of setting up the FRL will help the state government maintain the quality of food grains and other goods distributed through government initiatives, he added. The MoU is for a 10-year period under which DFS will provide the space and experts, whereas, GSCSC will incur the recurring cost of Rs 65 lakh.

The new lab has specialized equipment and trained manpower. We have set up both dry and wet laboratories to check the quality of samples of commodities such as wheat, rice, maize, sugar, edible oil, salt and pulses against standards set by Gujarat State Civil Supplies Corporation and FSSAI.

H P Sanghvi, deputy director of DFS said the FRL experts will collect samples from across the state. GSCSC officials said that there has been a marked improvement in the samples sent due to stringent scrutiny and high rejection rate by FRL. It is a new field for us but we are equipped with resources for the task. The results so far are encouraging with stringent norms in place and standardized procedures for collection of samples and analysis.

GSCSC provides commodities for schemes such as National Food Security Act, public distribution system, mid-day meal scheme, Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), etc. Gujarat has over 17,209 fair price shops, 72.03 lakh ration card holders including 27.44 lakh BPL, and about 1.03 crore combined beneficiaries in midday meal schemes in schools and Anganwadi.

In conclusion, the researchers said that the forensic science experts, usually linked to analysis of evidence on crime scenes have been roped to assure quality control of the food grains meant for purposes such as midday meal scheme and public distribution system.