WHAT ENSURES THE SAFETY OF OUR FOOD?

Technology has given the Midas touch to almost every sector today. With its far and deep reach, technology has made work efficient and hassle-free. The food industry has gained enormous momentum with its introduction, and many novel products and applications are currently being used in the foods sector. But the downside of modern technology is the cut throat competition that has grown with it and the food sector, too, hasn’t been spared in this regard. With advanced machinery and new substitute ingredients and methods replacing old, slow and expensive ones, many industries have been vested with the power to produce a hefty amount of goods in a short and stipulated amount of time, and with good accuracy too. This has led to huge cost cutting, and manufacturers in search of ways to optimise their product prices have found ingredient modification or manipulation as an effective means to bring down its cost, while keeping the sensory attributes of the product intact. All this noted, there arise concerns over product quality and safety if synthetic ingredients or chemical substances are used in food products. There need to be a set of rules and laws governing the usage of components and techniques in commercial food manufacturing, processing, packaging and storage.

 Almost every packaged food product that we buy made in the commercial market today (not specifying the local food shops or marts) contains the fssai mark. What does the fssai mark on packaged foods ensure?

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is a statutory body established under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare under the Government of India. This body governs and regulates the supervision of food safety. The objective of fssai is to assure safe and nutritious food and inspire trust in the hearts of the common Indian consumer, that the food he/she eats is safe and completely free of hazards. This ensures that the Indian consumer is a part of the food manufacturing process, though indirectly. The mark indicates that the manufacturers also involve in good manufacturing practices and their packaged products are devoid of any adulteration. The body goes by ‘One Nation, One Food Law’:

  • Have globally benchmarked food standards and practices
  • Ensure consistency in enforcement
  • Manage food testing with standardised testing methods and protocols.

The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 was passed in order to accentuate food laws and establish the fssai to lay down standards and specifications related on food and related articles in science and regulate/keep watch on every step of the process from procuring raw material to the finished food product reaching the customer with minimal damage. This includes manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import, and ensures that the available food to be consumed is safe and wholesome, and takes care of the rules and regulations designed thereof. A number of Food Safety and Standards Regulations have been set up to confine food manufacturers to food grade limits and maintain the quality of food being served on the consumer’s platter. Many other certifications and certifying bodies have been approved and set up by the Government or international bodies, too, to keep up food quality. These bodies audit industrial units or food company units to check if all the components being used in a food industry are well within the required/proper specifications and roll out a report to the producers regarding what they can improve, what they can control or what they can modify to enhance the overall quality of the product and the unit.

Controlling and keeping up the safety and quality of packaged and processed food is a tumultuous task, and it can be daunting to make even the slightest of mistake in the sector, as this can put thousands of lives in jeopardy, but regulating bodies ensure that the end consumer’s safety is well protected and cared for.

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