The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, congratulated the FSSAI on the 10th anniversary of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006. In his message to the FSSAI, he underscored the need for safe wholesome and hygienic food to create a “Swasth Bharat‟. The FSSAI has selected to make this the cornerstone of its efforts to enhance the culture of food safety in India.
To commemorate the occasion the FSSAI has announced a number of initiatives that will enhance the food safety culture in the country. These initiatives will promote food safety in homes, schools, offices, eateries as well as religious places where food is served. Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, stated that “Food safety is an important health and economic issue. Provisions of safe food should become a part of the ingrained culture in our country.”
While the Prime Minister advised that the Authority on the need to keep consumer demands in focus the Health Minister said that the Food Regulator must also keep in mind the concerns of small food businesses in the formulation and compliance of standards. JP Nadda stated that “FSSAI stands for trust and compliance and the synergy between the industry and the authority will ensure that this trust is well placed.”
The FSSAI feels that the home is where food safety should begin. Since most people do not have access to food safety experts and nutritionists so the FSSAI will provide every household a printed version of a curated ‘green’ handbook on safe and nutritious food.at home. They will also have a dedicated website for homemakers to share their food experiences with a vibrant community of homemakers.
The second initiative will be about safe and nutritious food at a school where the FSSAI is planning to formulate initiatives that will inculcate healthy eating habits in school children. They intend to provide schools with a negative list of HFSS foods which are basically junk foods high in fat, sugar, and salt. A ‘Nourish Board’ that will ensure that the school canteens, food eateries around a school and even the children’s lunch boxes have nutritious and safe food. A special blog is likely to be created so children can have a platform where they can interact across schools and learn about safe and nutritious foods. The move would also make it mandatory for food businesses involved in providing mid-day meal schemes to have food licenses.
Safe and nutritious food in the workplace will ensure that the workforce has a good choice of healthy meals instead of snacks so they can be more productive. All those providing food in office canteens and cafeterias will need to have a mandatory license/registration. FSSAI will also provide a booklet of healthy meals to employees so the workplace offers a choice of nutritious and safe food.
The integrated approach will also focus on safe and nutritious food served on trains, railway stations, restaurants, street food, and food served in religious places. The FSSAI will, therefore, initiate a mandatory testing or kitchens, water and equipment in all school and office canteens, restaurants and other eateries.
Restaurants would need to have a mandatory designated Food Safety Supervisor (FSS) and a safe and hygiene food rating chart. The trained and certified FSS will also be mandatory for railways and only FSSAI licensees/ registered vendors will provide food in trains and stations. As far as religious places are concerned the FSSAI is engaging with the management of these places to help them implement Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS).
Prior to the anniversary celebrations talks were also organized about “Food Safety in unorganized sector – Challenges & Opportunities” where the focus was on a mass training programme for small and petty food businesses like street food vendors, fruits and vegetable vendors and other in partnership with Skill India and sustaining these efforts with corporate participation. The second-panel discussion on “Food Safety a shared responsibility” dealt with the need for taking joint responsibility by all stakeholders in assuring food safety.
The FSSAI is of the opinion that food safety cannot be successful by mere regulation alone. It requires the co-operation of all responsible food business operators and also vigilant consumers. Therefore the Corporates4FoodSafety has been initiated. Shri Ashish Bahuguna, Chairperson, FSSAI stated that “We have completed ten formative years and are now striving towards a collective and integrative approach to build a culture of safe food and food safety cannot be ensured by enforcement alone.” Therefore under the initiative, a number of corporates will collaborate, educate and inspire other stakeholders towards food safety as responsible food businesses. CEO, FSSAI, Shri Pawan Agarwal said that all these FSSAI initiatives have been developed collaboratively over the past few months along with other stakeholders and partners.
The 10th anniversary function has just concluded and was attended by members of the food sector including the science community, industry – big corporates as well as small and medium food businesses represented by their associations, consumer and citizen organizations, international organizations and foreign missions, experts and government officials from Central ministries and States and other key stakeholders.