Thursday, November 24, 2011


Seminars are organized on a variety of topics with the intention of exchange of ideas and evolving a consensus regarding action needed to be taken for achieving the objectives of such meets. Food is no exception to this trend and during the last 5 decades hundreds of seminars have been organized on different facets of food with varying objectives but mainly to help the food processing sector to perform better in tune with the expectations of the consumers. Unfortunately if the track records of the past so many seminars are examined it becomes clear that except providing an opportunity for bon homie among the participants, precious little is achieved in practice. Here is the latest "outcome".of such a get together in the form of a set of recommendations. What follows this event can be easily predicted and if one goes by past experience nothing worth while is likely to happen! 

"In a recent regulatory meet Foodworld India, 2011, organised by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the industry voiced its demands to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) with regard to the implementation of the new Food Safety and Standards Act. At the meet, Prabodh Halde, VP, AFSTI, Mumbai chapter, said that there was an urgent need to formulate a negative list for additives. This would help manufacturers identify the additives which were not approved by the Authority and avoid their usage in products. Halde also stressed on the role of academicians in policy-making. "We have faculties across India and we should utilise their knowledge in making standards," Halde said. Shaminder Pal Singh, vice-president, scientific and regulatory affairs, PepsiCo Holdings Ltd, suggested channelising efforts in building a knowledge repository about product information. This would help gauge cost benefits and other regulatory information about the products to all the stakeholders, he opined. Pal also stressed on inclusion of regulation in the syllabus of food science students so as to build a strong human resource base in the country. Deepa Bhajekar, managing director, MicroChem Silliker, sought upgrade of the Director General of Health Services manual. She also stressed on upgrading labs for newer methodologies in method validations"

There are two recommendations which are interesting to read at least. The suggestion that there should be a list of chemicals not permitted for use in foods instead of a positive list is fraught with grave implications because there are thousands of chemicals "available" in the market and if the above recommendation is accepted there will be total chaos with serious consequences in the long run. Probably evolving a GRAS list as that exists in the US, might be much better to give industry further scope to diversify their product portfolio. The other suggestion regarding swapping of personnel between those working in the industry and others in the safety enforcement agency is some what far fetched considering that no industry will ever accept people with practically no experience to run their operations. Such half baked proposals with no chance of implementation make many seminars merely an exercise in futility!    .


No comments: