Saturday, October 17, 2009


Free trade regime which is mandatory for members of WTO, brings along with problems hitherto unseen or unanticipated. Different countries have food quality monitoring systems of their own and some are very strict while others have less rigorous enforcement practices. No country in the world is self-sufficient in all foods and dependence on imports of some ingredients is inevitable for the processing industry to flourish. Taking the case of India, the Food Standards and Safety Authority has some of the best provisions for protecting the consumers from food related problems but enforcement is totally lacking raising questions about the dependability of the system. Export rejections at the importing countries are often high while there is very little control about what is imported into the country.

If foreign buyers have to repose confidence on Indian food products, necessary world class infrastructure to assess and control the quality of products is absolutely necessary. What India has now, is an apology of a system that cannot be an envy of any one! Look at a small country like Northern Ireland where no effort is spared to ensure their food products are of world class standard. "The £2 million (US$3.2 million) Centre for Assured, Safe, and Traceable Food (ASSET), funded in part by Northern Ireland's Department for Employment and Learning, will research new technologies to detect contaminants in food, which agri-food industries will implement in their facilities to ensure high standards of food safety".

Rampant adulteration of foods go undetected and unpunished, in spite of stringent laws on paper which attract more and more criminals into food retailing. This has led to a situation where foreign buyers are becoming increasingly intrusive to protect what they have ordered and prevent food related safety problems with imported foods from India. There is no worthwhile central agency with necessary power and facilities to prevent manufacture, market and export of processed foods of sub-standard quality. Northern Ireland is showing the way as to how quality and safety can be upgraded, if one has sincerity, vision and resources.

No comments: