Saturday, August 7, 2010


When the Ministry of Food Processing Industry in India, was promoted as a show-piece of Rajiv Gandhi's Cabinet, it was expected to streamline and accelerate the development of this much neglected sector, considered as a sure route for value addition and much needed employment generation. One of the priority objectives was to "integrate" the food monitoring functions vested with more than a dozen government departments. That it took more than 20 years to achieve any perceptible movement on this score speaks volume about the seriousness of the administrators in bringing about changes that benefit the people. Even now the "new born" FSSAI created to fulfill the same objective is only talking about its "plans" and one can only hope that frequent statements from top to bottom officials of this organization will translate into some thing concrete that can be felt by the people of the country. It is being forgotten that the sufferers were the poor farmers and hapless citizens of the country.

"India will soon enforce a tough law to maintain standards and quality of food and water as 80 percent of all deaths in the country are believed to be linked to unhealthy food and water, an official said here Tuesday. "Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which consolidates various acts and orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various union ministries and departments, would be enforced soon," Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Deputy Director M.S. Karak said while addressing an awareness programme on food safety and quality. Quoting the Public Health Foundation of India, he said: "It was estimated that 80 percent of all premature deaths are attributed to unhealthy food and water." "After enforcement of the new act, eight regulations currently in operation will be automatically repealed," he said. Karak said that various central acts like the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, the Fruit Products Order, 1955, the Meat Food Products Order, 1973, the Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947, the Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1998 and the Milk and Milk Product Order, 1992 will be repealed after the enforcement of the FSS Act, 2006. According to Karak, necessary rules and regulations of the new law are being formulated before its enforcement. The law will govern the entire food business and food-related issues in India".

It is beyond one's comprehension as to how a junior official of GOI can assert that 80% of all deaths in the country are "believed" to be due to unhealthy food and water! Who is responsible for this sad state of affairs? Probably he is forgetting that he is blaming other wings of the government, of which he is also integral part, supposed to be responsible for preventing such deaths and that his organization is working hard to address that problem! If there is a major country in the world that does not have a clue regarding cause of death of its citizens ( probably does not care) and lack reliable data, it is India. If FSSAI is convinced that food is the major cause of death in the country how is it possible for them to prevent them by consolidating the "acts and orders"? Do they consider that they have the "magic bullet" to solve the problem? Every Indian citizen knows how ineffective food safety enforcement system in India has been and no amount of "talk" by any "Authority" is going to be convincing unless visible results are discernible at the ground level.


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