Food safety has become a serious public problem in a country like India. The main reason behind the same is the propagation of illegal, dishonest, and bootleg suppliers and loose government policies affecting the growth of industry and public health in general.
Clear and constant monitoring of food regulatory policy and their execution are both crucial for growth and should be the responsibility of any progressive government. Adding to the same thought, CS Pawan Dubey, Partner, Lex Bolster Global LLP shared, “There is a lack of clarity in the food environment, as food is essential and an indispensible requirement for the very existence of human beings, so food brings on table the safety concerns of the human being. Therefore, the same is expected from the regulatory.”
Meanwhile, Shri D. Raja, Joint secretary (LR), LAARDIS, Rajya Sabha, had this to say, “Food is an important subject. And I have a different approach i.e. from philosophy to ideology to law. Every human being produces more than he consumes by leading to surplus and that surplus is the problem. It leads to the formation of private property, capital. And we move from philosophy to ideology”.
Not only this, the food processing industry holds tremendous opportunity as it has high employment potential that can boost exports of agro-products out of the country and also provide better returns to farmers for their produce. However, this is possible only if food safety standards are effectively enforced in the country.
Since decades, food scandals have plagued in India. The continuing case of Nestlé’s Maggi instant noodles has thrust the issue of food safety into the national political spotlight. The additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is considered a possible health concern, have been detected in Maggi noodles. Even FSSAI discovered unhealthy levels of lead in the noodles, in a legal petition; the company argued that India’s testing system is flawed, leading to inaccurate findings.
There are additional cases like the rampant use of milk adulterants i.e. agents to induce thickness after water is added can cause short-term digestive problems and long-term chronic health problems. Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi, Member Lok Sabha, added, “The country that used to take pride in its cattle today is importing milk from other countries. So, standardisation of food is the most important thing to look at today.”
According to the head of a key panel of India’s national food safety authority, India’s food safety apparatus needs sweeping reforms to ensure that its norms are on a par with international standards, including an accreditation system that not only screens labs but also its personnel on a regular basis.
“Licensing is easy to achieve but to maintain the food quality is difficult. And that’s where we need to work. Like in Hindi there is a line, the last man is standing in the last row,” added Lekhi.
Thus, we can see that with food becoming a major concern for growth today, both government and the industry are focussed on delivering high quality ingredients on the plate.