What the article is about?
- Talks about the food safety progress and way ahead.
Syllabus: GS-II Health, Government policies and interventions.
Food Safety Index:
- Recently, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare has released the 3rd State Food Safety Index (SFSI).
- The index is developed by FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) to measure the performance of states on five significant parameters of Food Safety.
- The parameters include Human Resources and Institutional Data, Compliance, Food Testing – Infrastructure and Surveillance, Training & Capacity Building and Consumer Empowerment.
- The Index is a dynamic quantitative and qualitative benchmarking model that provides an objective framework for evaluating food safety across all States/UTs.
- The first State Food Safety Index for the year 2018-19 was announced on the first-ever World Food Safety Day on 7th June 2019.
- Food safety and consumer empowerment are areas in need of constant attention in India, where enforcement is often lax.
- But in this, Tamil Nadu deserves credit for finishing at the top among 17 large States for food safety; it was ranked third in the previous edition of the State Food Safety Index.
- That Tamil Nadu, with 82 marks, is ahead of Gujarat by 4.5 marks and Maharashtra by 12 marks, highlights its creditable showing.
- Tamil Nadu has improved its standing in ‘human resources and institutional data’, and ‘training and capacity building’.
- There has been incremental progress in ‘compliance’ (which measures overall coverage of food businesses in licensing and registration), and ‘food testing’ (which scrutinises the availability of adequate testing infrastructure with trained manpower in the States/Union Territories for testing food samples).
- Kerala, which came second last time, is now at sixth spot; Karnataka has retained its ninth position; Telangana slipped from 10 to 15 and Andhra Pradesh dropped to the last slot from the penultimate slot in the previous edition when 20 States were covered, unlike the 17 now. Among Union Territories, Puducherry rose from seventh to sixth spot.
- In area such as food safety, States alone cannot make a big diﬀerence without the support of the Central government.
- Liberal assistance should be provided to the States and Union Territories as far as laboratory infrastructure and improvement of manpower, both technical and non-technical, are concerned.
- The private sector should come forward in a big way to have staﬀ trained at their cost and where such persons are used productively for the purpose.
- There are inspiring accounts of the participation of some information technology majors in getting surplus food distributed to the needy, of course with the help of non-governmental organisations, and this should serve as a lesson to those who are still hesitant to make their contribution.