Saturday, January 30, 2010


Micro enterprises, confined largely to cottage scale processing of foods do not have the wherewithal to judge the quality or safety of the products made by them. They generally do not use sophisticated process technologies, confining them selves to dehydrated, fried, baked, pickled and sugar preserved products. Most of these products are relatively stable for a few days and do not pose high safety risks. Governments with responsibility to assure food safety to the consumers are always pulled between the plight of small processors and the potential risks the foods produced by them pose to the public. Here is an example from the US itself where the share of micro food enterprises is negligible in the market.

"Legislation that eased restrictions on cottage food businesses in Wyoming has touched off a debate over government's role in overseeing homemade food products. Some health officials worry rules that allow home-produced foods to be sold without inspection at farmers' markets and roadside stands expose people to risk from food-borne illness and unlabeled allergens. They also say inspectors can regulate cottage foods without placing an onerous burden on the people who produce them".

In India food processing in the so called unorganized sector is more than that by the organized licensed industries and there is little control government has on the quality and safety of the products made by the former. While in urban areas Municipal Health Officer is "supposed" to keep an eye on food handling groups including restaurants, very little is done in practice due to severe constraints vis-a-vis technical man power and monitoring infrastructure. As for rural areas it a free for all situation with any one and every one being able to deal with food, unnoticed, unchecked and unconcerned!


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