FSSAI sought Govt. help to track fake viral news at Social Media

THE FOOD SAFETY AND STANDARDS AUTHORITY OF INDIA (FSSAI) has written to the Ministry of Electronics & IT expressing concern over the proliferation of fake videos and messages on social media that spread rumours on the safety and quality of food available in the country.

In its communication, it has urged the Ministry to put in a place a mechanism to track such fake videos so that “perpetrators of such mischievous videos could be brought to book and penal action can be initiated against them.”

In the past, FSSAI has had to counter rumours and public fear regarding presence of “plastic rice and plastic eggs” which was triggered by circulation of fake videos on social media.

FSSAI said more recently a “fake video” on the presence of melamine in milk went viral on the social media which “maliciously projected that FSSAI had given permission for use of melamine in milk.”

The food safety authority clarified that under the food safety regulations, the use of melamine as an ingredient or as an additive is not permitted in any food product. It added that it has prescribed maximum limits for melamine in food, including milk, under the regulations only to address the “incidental presence” of melamine as a contaminant.

In a statement, Mr. Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, said, “Such false propaganda is neither good for citizens nor for the food businesses. This erodes confidence of the public in the food control system in the country. It also erodes global trust in our food system and food businesses and potentially has far reaching public health, social and trade implications.”

On its part, the Ministry of IT & Electronics has been pushing messaging app WhatsApp to set up a mechanism to clamp down on fake messages and videos on its platform.