New Delhi: Speaking at the function organised by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to commemorate 10 years of the enactment of Food Safety and Standard Act (FSSAI Act), here recently, Mr J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, stated that “Food safety is a very important health and economic issue. It has high employment potential, can boost exports of agro-products out of the country, and also provide better returns to farmers for their produce.
Provisions of safe food should become a part of ingrained culture in our country.” He further added that the FSSAI Act is a paradigm shift from regulatory regime under the provisions of Food Adulteration Act to self-regulatory and facilitatory regime. “Now, basic ground work is done. We are ready for big leap forward,” Mr Nadda said. The minister advised that the Authority should be fully aware of the need and concerns of small food businesses as well in its work of standard formulation and compliance. He further added that during the last 10 years, considerable ground has been covered in terms of achieving the goals of laying down scientific standards and regulating the manufacturing, storage, distribution, sale and import of food items for the people of India.
Commemorating this milestone, FSSAI also announced [email protected] – 10th anniversary with 10 initiatives. The primary focus of the [email protected] initiative is to engage with stakeholders and consumers to create food safety culture in the country. This bouquet of 10 initiatives focused on safe and nutritious food at home, school, workplace, religious places, in trains and railway stations, in restaurants and other places.
On this occasion, the Union Health Minister also released the special commemorative volume – a compilation of the history and over fifty invited articles from the scientists, experts, industry people and consumer organizations. Mr C K Mishra, Union Health Secretary also addressed the audience with inspiring messages on the need for collaborative efforts towards setting up of food standards and its implementation strategies.
In his opening address, Mr Ashish Bahuguna, Chairperson, FSSAI said, “One of the most significant provisions of the formation of FSSAI was for setting national benchmarks, regulations and guiding principles for Food Safety and Nutrition. We have completed 10 formative years of this act and are now striving to work towards a collective approach for building safe food culture in India because Food Safety cannot be ensured by enforcement alone.”
The event also saw launch of Food Safety Display Boards that would help to connect the consumers directly to food safety officers. Under the Corporates4FoodSafety initiative, the corporates committed themselves to collaborate, educate and inspire other stakeholders towards food safety as responsible food businesses.
Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi in his congratulatory message underscored the ‘need for the Authority to focus on empowering the consumers so that the manufacturers and suppliers of food products become responsive to consumer needs, demands and expectations.’ He further added that ‘safe an, wholesome and hygienic food will create a ‘Swasth Bharat’. And this has to be cornerstone of the efforts of FSSAI.’
Referring to the [email protected] initiatives, CEO, FSSAI, Mr Pawan Agarwal said that all these initiatives have been developed collaboratively over the past few months along with other stakeholders and partners. He informed that States would be facilitated to implement them on pilot basis over the next few months and thereafter national roll out of these initiatives would be done possibly by next year. He also referred to other initiatives of the FSSAI such as on national milk quality survey, food fortification, farm to trade – bridging the standards divide, rediscovering the rich culinary heritage of India, standards for organic food, eLearning Portal and simplification of registration and licensing regulations.
There were two panel discussions prior to the main event. One on “Food Safety in unorganized sector – Challenges & Opportunities” focused around 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 need for taking joint responsibility by all stakeholders in assuring food safety.