Monday, January 2, 2012


Here is a take on the subject of food safety management as it exists now, coming directly from a senior official of the FSSAI. It is sad that even after years of talking, planning, thinking, discussing and loud proclamations, there is only a "Law" on paper and nothing much has been done to create even the rudimentary infrastructure to monitor the quality and safety of foods marketed by thousands of processing units in the organized and unorganized sectors leaving the fate of the citizens in the hands of food adulterators and fraudsters! Why even the greatest rogue nation on this earth the Communist China has seen the weak surveillance system prevailing in the country and flooded the Indian market with "Made in India" versions of many reputed Indian food brands after duplicating them in their country! 

"There are around 72 food testing labs in the country but most of them don't have either the equipments or technical persons who can conduct the validation of food additives in the food industry. In view of the requirement to meet standards of FSSAI, there is a great need to develop and / or upgrade food testing laboratories and few steps have been taken towards the same. At least, 125 NABL-accredited food testing laboratories for chemical and microbial testing have been proposed in the FSSAI meeting. Each lab will cater to five districts. In addition to setting up the new labs, the FSSAI will focus on upgrading these existing labs to capacitate them to testing all parameters. These labs would be brought up to a level where they were able to obtain the NABL certification". 

No matter what it costs GOI must give priority to ensuring safety of foods and this can be achieved only if adequate infrastructure, resources and trained personnel are deployed with least compromise. There must be specialized legal food courts to summarily punish food adulterators and fraudsters with no mercy, if necessary by awarding capital punishment to serious crimes. Why not an Indian Food Safety Service (IFSS) cadre, similar to other administrative services, created to deal with food related issues on an all India basis? It is time that the ornamental FSSAI is scrapped altogether and an agency similar to FDA of the US is set up with real "teeth", run by truly qualified technical experts, to confront "head on" the food safety problems of this nation? Sooner this is done better it will be for the country.

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