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The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) commemorated the World Food Safety Day. This theme for this year – ‘Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow’ typifies that food safety is a shared responsibility between Government, producers and consumers and everyone has a part to play to make sure that the food we consume is safe and nutritious.

The resurgence of Covid-19 pandemic has brought the attention on food, nutrition, health, immunity and sustainability. It is necessary to ensure availability of safe food in the markets because any contamination arising from food can result in extra expenditure on the healthcare system in the form of food-borne diseases.

On the occasion, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare underscored that World Food Safety Day is celebrated across the globe to being to light that food is not only an agricultural or trade commodity but also a public health issue and therefore, food safety has to be considered as a vital public health function.

The call to action is to make sure that the food we consume is safe and health-giving and the food safety must be integrated across all stages from farm to table and all should converge to make sure that it is a shared responsibility.

Food safety forms an indispensable component of health and nutrition policies. Necessary steps should be taken to motivate action to help, prevent, detect and manage any food borne risks for contributing towards food security, human health, economic prosperity, market access and sustainable food system.

Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare wished good luck to all stakeholders related with the food supply chain. He discussed the importance of food safety and how we can work together to fight issues related to unsafe food. He further emphasized that this pandemic has acted as an eye opener as it offered us an opportunity to strengthen India’s food safety systems and keep our food supply safe in the current situation.

As part of the World Food Safety Day celebration, FSSAI, declared the winners of the digitally-organized Eat Right Creativity challenge for school children to unbolt their creativity by inculcating the message of ‘Safe, Healthy and Sustainable Diets’. More than 26,000 entries were received across India, 640 out of them were awarded as Regional Winners and 250 entries were recognized as National Winners under this challenge.

Moreover, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Chennai, Lucknow and Pune were chosen as winners of the NeTProFaN challenges for carrying mass awareness activities in the last one year.

Indigenous food testing equipment – Precision Iodine Value Analyzer (PIVA) was also recognized by FSSAI during the event. This home-grown kit is designed by CSIR in collaboration with Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) and can discern the Iodine Value (degree of unsaturation) measurement in edible oils and fats in a faster, improved, and affordable manner.

Presently, PIVA has been calibrated and tested for Coconut, Sunflower, Mustard, Palm, Rice Bran, Soyabean, Groundnut, Olive Oil and Ghee. This novel development is a part of the ongoing endeavour to reinforce the food testing capabilities by launching the faster and advanced Food Testing Kits.

FSSAI has given approval to 65 rapid food testing kits/devices till now and this is the latest addition to the list
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In the last 12 months, FSSAI has offered technical and financial assistance to States/UTs for development of necessary infrastructure, testing equipment and mobilizing resources for carrying out special camps, inspections, awareness drives, by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

FSSAI has provided aboutt Rs 65 crores to the States/ UTs as part of the MoU in the year 2020-21.

FSSAI launched an online training course, under its flagship program – Food Safety Training and Certification (FoSTaC), on safe food and hygiene protocols needed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 2.6 lakhs Food Safety Supervisors (FSS) have been given trainings so far under the COVID training course. The year 2020 also observed the nation-wide rebirth of the FSSAI’s online network.

FSSAI made response to field situation timely and introduced several regulatory reforms for ameliorating efficiency with ‘Ease of doing Business’ including simplification in the processing of applications for licensing and registration, return filing, licence validity, inspections and other compliances to make sure that businesses were able to work meticulously even in these challenging times. Enhancement in existing portals of licensing and registration through migration to the new age digital platform called Food Safety Compliance System (FOSCOS) along with better e-Governance for delivery of various e-services were some of the remarkable changes.

On the regulatory part, some significant regulations were finalized such as FSS (Safe Food and Healthy Diets for School Children) Regulations, 2019 to ensure wholesome food to school children by not approving food items high in fat, salt and sugar to be sold and promoted within school premises; limiting industrial TFA (trans fatty acids) to not exceed 3% in all fats and oils by January 2021 and not over 2% by January 2022 as well as notification of Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020, advising the labelling requirements of pre-packaged foods.

A set of amendments have been posited by FSSAI to reform the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Business) Regulations. The Food Regulator is also issuing new regulations to facilitate and hasten up import clearances by diversifying the coverage across the point of entries for quality assurance and testing of food imports.

Emphasis on periodic risk-based inspections, third party audits, and surveillance drives to ensure the availability of safe and good quality food products in the market such as sale of adulterated edible oil, khoa and honey remained a notable area for establishing food safety efforts.

Recruitment of manpower at FSSAI headquarters and across regional offices along with opening up of new office locations at Mundra, Ahmedabad remained a focal area for widening the reach of the food regulator.

Via the ‘Eat Right India’ movement, FSSAI continued to modify the food ecosystem of the country through its benchmarking and certification schemes and cluster initiatives to enhance the infrastructure and hygiene compliance levels of food establishments be it Jails, Hospitals, Educational Institutions, Places of Worship, Street food vendors as well as Fruits and Vegetables Markets. Till now, 28 Street Food Hubs and more than 100 campuses have received certifications.

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A Zoophile scrambling the horizon for surreal subtleties, sheer poetic at heart and quite handy with life.

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