Updated: Sep 9, 2019
Food comes first to every human. It is the basic primary need without which survival is impossible. Safe Food therefore is the foremost fundamental right of every human. It requires a greater attention and participation. Food Safety is a continuing concern with the frequent outbreaks of foodborne diseases due to adulteration, contamination and lack of awareness on how to keep food safe. Safe Food is not simply a case where stringent food safety management systems, microbiological research, educational campaigns, auditing and external accreditation will demonstrate a positive food safety culture. In fact, reliance upon them is more likely to achieve a continual success in risk reduction and legal compliance. A successful Food Safety culture requires a better understanding of organizational culture and the human dimension of Food Safety.
India was slow to grapple with Food Safety. The unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition which affect all age groups. Food borne diseases are important hidden causes of morbidity and mortality. Though most of the food borne diseases is sporadic and often not reported in India, a nationwide study reported an alarming 13.2% prevalence at household level. Indian food sector was characterized by multiple food laws and different ministries governing the food sector resulting in overlapping of standards, labeling requirements and poor information dissemination to consumers.
The Food Safety and Standards Act thus came into being on 24th August, 2006. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) was established on 5th September, 2008 for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacturing, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. FSSAI Regulations came into force on 5th August, 2011. The FSSAI is actively working on the front of food safety and is providing a number of measures to tackle the menace of unsafe production, storage, distribution and consumption of food.
Apart from the role being played by FSSAI, a robust effort has to be made to bring holistic improvements in the food safety sector through
Positive change in business culture and practices dealing with the production, processing, storage and distribution of safe food. The business culture is simply the attitude of entrepreneurs toward all stakeholders in the food supply chain. Ideally, that culture should be characterized by the ability to welcome and adjust to change, efforts for excellence, and putting consumers’ best interest at the top.
Strong Government policies and adherence to them should be enforced strictly. An ideal policy environment should inspire the Food industry, especially the SME sector, to adopt the best possible food safety assurance practices not only to gain a competitive edge but also to fulfill its social responsibility.
Easy access to better information and consequently exercising the right choices. Continuous efforts should be made to involve school children, parents, college students and others in joining hands to fight food adulteration and promoting safe and hygienic food.
Various food safety initiatives and campaigns should be vigorously supported and sponsored by credible institutions like All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Indian Dietetic Association, Indian Medical Association and Confederation of Indian Industry etc.
A strong public health surveillance system for food safety and food borne diseases.
Increasing consumer awareness and consumer involvement in food safety initiatives and campaigns highlighting the importance of safe food and its nutritional quotient.
Imparting of effective training programmes and relevant education in the safe handling of food throughout the food chain.
Strong adherence to the harmonized global standards of food safety management.
Organizing Global Meets and Global Forums to propagate the importance of food safety and methods to achieve it.
Organizing National and State Level meets and Seminars to educate Food Handlers, Food Operators and Consumers for food safety.
Overall mindfulness of the people working in food sector, as achieving sustainable results across all these critical areas of the Food safety management system may not hinge entirely on the adoption of new regulations, technologies or standards, but also on the personal behavior commitment and practices.
An effort has been made in this direction with one of the most visible, effective consumer awareness measures initiated by the Indian government is the recent “Jago Grahak Jago (Wake up, consumer, wake up)” campaign in the mass media. It highlighted not only the rights consumers enjoy but also the redressal mechanisms available and therefore helped launch a type of nationwide consumer movement. This could serve as a guideline for similar campaigns.Food Safety initiatives definitely need a vibrant, vigorous and virtuous approach.
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.