To galvanize states to ensure safe food for citizens, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya released Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) 's 3rd State Food Safety Index (SFSI) to measure the performance of states across five parameters of food safety.
The union minister for Health and Family Welfare felicitated nine leading states or UTs based on the ranking for the year 2020-21 for their impressive performance. This year, among the larger states, Gujarat was the top-ranking state, followed by Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Among the smaller states, Goa stood first, followed by Meghalaya and Manipur. Among UTs, Jammu & Kashmir, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and New Delhi secured top ranks.
Food Safety on Wheels
He also flagged off 19 Mobile Food Testing Vans (Food Safety on Wheels) to supplement the food safety ecosystem across the country, taking the total number of such mobile testing vans to 109.
Speaking on occasion, Mandaviya observed that food is an essential component of health in a holistic sense. "Balanced nutrition is an integral part of Health," he stated. He expressed hope that the mobile food testing laboratories will help functionaries in the states or UTs enhance their outreach and conduct surveillance activities even in the far-flung areas, but will also be utilized as an effective tool for training and awareness generation activities amongst citizens.
He emphasized that the citizens are a stakeholder for food safety along with Government and Industry. Mandaviya noted, "Pradhan Mantri Shri Narendra Modi Ji says that when one person takes a step forward, only a single step is achieved; however, when the whole country takes just one step forward, the country leaps by 130 crore steps. People who bring attention to issues like food adulteration and low-quality standards automatically benefit other unconscious consumers who might be harmed." He applauded the organization's action and industry partners took the country forward in Food Safety.
The union minister released the PAN-India survey to identify the presence of industrially produced trans fatty acid content in the selected foods. Various packaged food items were collected under six pre-defined food categories from 419 cities/districts across 34 states or UTs. Overall, only 84 samples, that is 1.34%, have more than 3% industrially-produced trans fats from the total of 6245 samples; India is on the right track to becoming industrial trans fats-free in the 75th year of India's independence.
Innovative initiatives by FSSAI
Mandaviya also launched various innovative initiatives by FSSAI, including the Eat Right Research Awards and Grants to encourage and recognize high-quality research in the area of food safety and nutrition in India; a logo for Vegan Foods for easy identification and distinction from non-vegan foods for empowering consumers to make informed food choices. Further, the minister also released various eBooks that advocate and capture recipes around local seasonal food items, indigenous millets, and plant-based protein sources.
Plastic Waste Neutral
As part of the ongoing efforts to engage the industry on plastic in food packaging, 24 food businesses signed a pledge on becoming "Plastic Waste Neutral" by collecting, processing and recycling 100% post-consumer plastic waste from across the sources. 21 companies have committed themselves to reduce the levels of virgin plastic in the food and beverage sector.
Rita Teaotia, chairperson, FSSAI, Arun Singhal, chief executive officer and member secretary, FSSAI, Vikash Sheel, Additional Secretary (Health) were also present.