Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is currently working upon on a comprehensive inspection framework to ensure supply of safe, hygienic and nutritious food. FSSAI Chief Executive Officer Pawan Agarwal said at a FICCI event, “We are working with comprehensive approach which we are calling safe and nutritious food shared responsibility, in which we are trying to reach out to Indian homes, schools, work places, restaurants, street food vendors, railways, temples, etc. On the food practices standards, we are very much far behind and this is one area of focus where we depend quite extensively on professionals who work in the food industry. We are somewhat unfortunate that general awareness about standards of food safety and hygiene is very low.”
Agarwal said that a new regulatory arrangement was being put in place to support the enforcement of regulations. He said there were about 135 food laboratories set up by the private sector, which were recognised by the FSSAI, in addition to 90 government laboratories, most of which are under state governments’ control. FSSAI did not have food inspectors as food inspection was largely done by state governments.
The FSSAI chief said, “Our efforts should be to build coalition of stakeholders, who can jointly take responsibility. If we join hands together, our number of food inspectors will go above 20,000 in US.” He said the FSSAI worked with science organisations, research institution to create standards for food business to operate in this country. A lot of progress is made. About 80-85 per cent of standards are in place. And balance 10-12 per cent is in final stages of being notified. We continue to give all newer and better standards to provide scope for innovation for food industry and global benchmark as far as new products and service is concerned.”
Food regulator released ‘Yellow Book’ aimed at children that details how to eat right with emphasis on preventing nutritional deficiencies and making healthy choices. Agarwal said the book was launched in three categories for children in different age groups and it covered a range of topics — from food safety practices, personal hygiene and cleanliness habits, and eating a balanced diet to packing a wholesome lunch box. He said it can be adopted across schools through state education machineries as part of their curricular and co-curricular activities.