Food Hygiene: The Road Less Travelled
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
Indian culture beams of a rich food heritage and tradition. Food is an important part of our everyday life, and has a significant influence on our mind and body. We love food and food is our basic primary need. Over the years, Increasing food choices, advances in food technology and changing lifestyles have influenced the way people buy and consume food. Every individual talks of good food, good taste and a new food recipe but less about food hygiene.
What is food hygiene? Food hygiene is the conditions and measures necessary to ensure the safety of food from production to consumption. Food can become contaminated at any point during slaughtering or harvesting, processing, storage, distribution, transportation and preparation. Lack of adequate food hygiene can lead to foodborne diseases and death of the consumer.
Good Food Hygiene is the basic and core requirement for producing safe food, promoting good food culture, safeguarding both consumer health and reputation of food businesses. Food hygiene is best governed by the basic hygiene practices followed by the food handler, whether an employee of a big food retail business or a simple household lady.
But as the saying goes, it is easier said than done!! Food hygiene is not a joke. It’s a very serious and grave issue. It has to be carefully pondered and handled with great deliberation and vigilant insight. Food Hygiene comes with great challenges and huge responsibility. The behavioural patterns and practices followed by the people who handle food need a great thought provocation. The mindset of the people needs a great change with a courage and will to throw away the ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude and rigorously follow the ‘Do good’ attitude.
Studies have shown that an appreciable percentage of foodborne cases can be attributed to
Poor sanitation, personal hygiene and contamination of equipment and/or environments. Poor personal hygiene on the part of food workers is a major contributing factor in roughly 4 out of 10 (38%) foodborne illness outbreaks.
Improper handwashing, personal cleanliness, bare-hand contact of ready-to-eat foods or wearing dirty clothes. In research on handwashing, only about one in six times did employees follow proper hand hygiene when it was needed.
Employees who routinely handle food may not have been well screened at hiring and may not be properly motivated or well trained.
Though improper food hygiene and resultant foodborne illness is a worldwide phenomenon, yet when it comes to Indian context, we have just started the journey in 2011 with the implementation of the Foods Safety & Standards Act, Rules and Regulations.
The Government is making good amount of effort through FSSAI, the food governing authority but still much has to be done on the part of Food Business Operators. The FSSAI has till date granted seven extensions in last five years for the registration and licensing of the Food business operators. But out of the estimated 50 million food units in the country, only about 3.3 million are licensed. According to Mr. Pawan Kumar Agarwal, the CEO of FSSAI, We have not even reached the 10% mark in terms of licensing and registration of food business.
To further augment India’s thrust on Food Safety by engaging the key stakeholders to catalyse their role in ensuring Food Safety from the Farm to Fork, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in partnership with its National partners Cargill India, NASVI (National Association of Street Vendors India), Consumer Organization –VOICE and others has launched the Surakshit Khadya Abhiyan in July 2015 as a Pan India Campaign on Safe Food to raise Awareness on Hygienic and Food Safety practices and build capacity on Safe Food for All. This Campaign is also aligned to the countrywide mission “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” for ensuring clean surroundings and clean environment.
The FSSAI has also launched a landmark mobile app in March 2016 through which consumers can raise their concerns related to quality of packaged food and the food served in ready-to-eat outlets. The app provides food safety tips and food safety laws as prescribed by the regulator through its regulations.
However, a long road is yet to be travelled on the Food Hygiene as a much bigger role is expected from big Food Processing Units, Food Retailers, Corporate players, Media Houses, Industrial Associations, Government Functionaries, Regulatory and Statutory bodies, and Local Self Governments to disseminate the knowledge at grass root level. And most prominently we, the Citizens of India have a deeper and larger role to play in contributing and promoting the Food Hygiene Awareness and its relevant and required importance and great significance in our lives.
About Dr. Gazal Goyal Bansal
Founder and CEO, Life Coach and Speaker, Dr. Gazal Bansal is a
Doctorate in Political Science, UGC (JRF), a Gold Medalist, Certified ISO 22000 Lead Auditor, a Licensed Practitioner of NLP from The Society of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (TM) & a Pranic Healer.
As a spiritual evangelist and a practical thinker, she is a radical enthusiast and a firm believer in the philosophy of conceptual pragmatism, logical reasoning, and the spiritual energy matrix. She is a staunch believer of the fact that before you speak, your energy speaks.