The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) reaffirmed its dedication to food safety and innovation by organizing an interactive session on June 7th, 2023 (Wednesday) at Vigyan Bhavan, in honor of World Food Safety Day. The event witnessed the participation of Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare. The event was also attended by the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Prof S.P. Singh Baghel.
At the event, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya unveiled the 5th State Food Safety Index (SFSI), which evaluates the performance of states and union territories across six different aspects of food safety. The release of this index coincided with the interactive session. Launched in 2018-19, the SFSI aims to foster healthy competition and catalyze positive change in the food safety ecosystem throughout the country, ultimately ensuring the provision of safe and wholesome food to all residents.
Recognizing the achievements of various states and union territories, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya felicitated the winners based on their rankings for the year 2022-23. Among the larger states, Kerala secured the top ranking, followed by Punjab and Tamil Nadu Among the smaller states, Goa emerged as the leader, followed Manipur and Sikkim Additionally, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh secured the first, second, and third ranks respectively among the union territories. Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya also commended states that demonstrated significant improvement in their State Food Safety Index scores.
Furthermore, the Union Health Minister honored the winners of the Eat Right Challenge for Districts – Phase II. These districts showcased outstanding efforts in implementing plans to improve the food environment and raise awareness about food safety. Remarkably, most of the districts with exceptional results were located in Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Out of the 260 participating districts, 31 successfully achieved a score of 75% or higher.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, as well as the International Year of Millets, the FSSAI envisioned organizing Eat Right Millets Melas across the country. These melas serve as platforms to showcase the diversity of cuisines, as well as millet recipes, in the country. In recognition of the outstanding efforts made by states and union territories, certificates of appreciation were presented to those states who have successfully conducted or Eat Right Millets Melas in their districts.
Dr Mansukh Mandaviya announced that 25 lakh food business operators will be trained by FSSAI in the next 3 years to ensure that food quality standards are met across the country. He also announced the setting up of 100 Food Streets across the country which meet the quality benchmark for food safety, hygiene, and nutrition. “Food quality is a part of wellness”, Dr Mandaviya remarked.
Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya conveyed his heartfelt appreciation for the invaluable contributions made by the members of the Scientific Committee and Scientific Panels. He emphasized their pivotal role in shaping evidence-based policies and regulations concerning food safety. In this regard he said, “The expertise and recommendations of these esteemed professionals have been instrumental in formulating effective strategies to address emerging challenges and ensure the highest standards of food safety across the nation. This gathering provides a platform for scientific experts to engage in thoughtful discussions and deliberations regarding food safety regulations, as well as the standards-setting process.” In setting food safety standards for the country, the Minister said that we should look at our own traditions, and heritage in terms of diet, lifestyle, seasonality of food products, so we can set our own food standards in the world.
Dr. Mandaviya also unveiled several innovative initiatives by FSSAI, including the Rapid Food Testing Kit (RAFT) portal. This portal aims to streamline the operations of the RAFT Scheme, ensuring transparency and accountability. Applicants can now conveniently apply for approval online, and all steps, from application processing to certificate issuance and renewal, can be carried out electronically. This digitalization promotes a paperless operation of the RAFT scheme, which was launched in 2019 to encourage the adoption of advanced technologies for food testing, screening, and surveillance purposes.
As part of the event, the Union Health Minister released three manuals designed to enhance food safety practices nationwide. These manuals include the Manual of Methods of Analysis of Foods – Fish & Fish Products, Manual of Methods of Analysis of Foods – Cereal and Cereal Products – 2nd edition, and Manual of Methods of Analysis of Foods – Beverages: Tea, Coffee & Chicory.
These manuals are tailored to align with the latest technological advancements in food analysis, ensuring the safety and quality of food products. Stakeholders in the food industry, including food businesses, regulatory officials, and consumers, will benefit from the valuable guidance provided in these manuals.
Prof. SP Singh Baghel while congratulating the winners said, “Awards not just limited to certificates, but it has a larger impact. It also places greater responsibility on you as you go forward to do something even bigger.” On the importance of food safety, he said, “No matter how remote a place is, it boasts of fast food stalls, hence guaranteeing food safety standards becomes even more important in ensuring the health of our citizens.”
The event was attended by distinguished guests, including Aradhana Patnaik, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Shri G. Kamala Vardhana Rao, CEO FSSAI, Dr. Harinder Singh Oberoi, Advisor (Science & Standards, CODEX), FSSAI, prominent members of the Scientific Committee and Scientific Panels of FSSAI, senior officials from the State Food Safety Departments and Municipal Corporations/Smart City Offices, professionals in food and nutrition, development agencies, food businesses, and other senior officials of FSSAI.