Safe Food And The Need To Develop Lab Infrastructure In States : Daily Current Affairs

Relevance: GS 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Key Phrases: Food safety, food testing, consumer empowerment, State Food Safety Index, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act), Ayurveda Aahar, Eat Right India Movement, Eat Right Station Certification.


  • The 4th State Food Safety Index was released recently. 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.
  • Food safety and consumer empowerment are areas in need of constant attention in India, where enforcement is often lax.

Food Safety

  • India’s Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, defines food safety as an “assurance that food is acceptable for human consumption according to its intended use’ and ensures safe, wholesome, and hygienic food.”


State Food Safety Index:

  • State Food Safety Index has been developed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI),
  • The Food Safety Index evaluates States and Union Territories on following parameters, apart from their size:
    • human resources and institutional data;
    • compliance;
    • food testing – infrastructure and surveillance;
    • training and capacity building and
    • consumer empowerment.
  • It was started in 2018-19 to create a competitive and positive change in India’s food safety ecosystem.This year is the fourth edition of the index.

Key Highlights of the State Food Safety Index:

  • Tamil Nadu’s performance:
    • Tamil Nadu topped the list among larger States, followed by Gujarat and Maharashtra.
    • 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 scrutinizes the availability of adequate testing infrastructure with trained manpower in the States/Union Territories for testing food samples).
    • Tamil Nadu has performed marginally lower than what it did last year in ‘consumer empowerment’.
  • Performance of Other Southern States/UTs:
    • Kerala, which came second on previous occasion, is now at the sixth spot;
    • Karnataka has retained its ninth position;
    • Telangana slipped from 10 to 15
    • 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 the sixth spot.
  • Performance of Smaller States/ UTs:
    • Among smaller states, Goa was the winner, followed by Manipur and Sikkim.
    • Jammu and Kashmir emerged top among Union Territories, followed by Delhi and Chandigarh.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an autonomous statutory body established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act).
  • Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the administrative Ministry of FSSAI.
  • Headquarters: Delhi
  • The authority also has 6 regional offices located in Delhi, Guwahati, Mumbai, Kolkata, Cochin and Chennai.
  • The primary role of the authority is to regulate and monitor, the manufacture, processing, distribution, sale, and import of food while ensuringsafe and wholesome food to the consumers.


Do you Know?

Some important Initiatives by FSSAI

  • Eat Right India : The aim is not just to provide food to one and all, but to provide quality food to everyone. With this initiative, FSSAI intends to make good quality food accessible to every citizen of the country.
    • Mission of the Eat Right India Campaign
      • Eat Right India’s vision for 2050 is about creating a culture of safe, healthy and sustainable food for all
      • Making Indian food Trans fat free by 2022
      • It aims to cut down salt/sugar and oil consumption by 30% in three years
  • Clean Street Food – This involves training the street food vendors and making them aware of the violations as per the FSS Act 2006. This will also help in the social and economic upliftment of street food vendors
  • Diet4Life – This is another initiative taken by FSSAI, to spread awareness about metabolic disorders.
  • Save Food, Share Food, Share Joy – Encouraging people to avoid food wastage and promote food donation. Through this, FSSAI intends to connect food-collecting agencies with the food-producing companies and share the food with the ones in need.

Need of the hour:

  • Support of Central Government:
    • In an area such as food safety, States alone cannot make a big difference without the support of the Central government.
  • Liberal assistance:
    • 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.
  • Private sector participation:
    • 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.
  • Role of the Public Health Sector:
    • To achieve food safety, the public health sector must play a pivotal role in building a community of various stakeholders and partners, who share common goals and responsibilities.
    • This partnership should encompass consumer and school education, science and research, agriculture and fishery, tourism, trade, the industry as well as regulatory authorities.
  • Strict food safety law:
    • The government must implement the present laws related to food safety as strictly as possible.
    • Strict action must be taken against companies violating the prescribed standards of food safety.
  • Community-led initiatives:
    • Case studies across continents have shown how community-led initiatives can improve food safety standards with a focus on clean water, sanitation, storage, etc, in protecting the health of the population.
  • Upgradation of State food laboratories:
    • State food laboratories lack sophisticated analytical equipment and microbiological laboratory for testing various safety parameters.
    • FSSAI has formulated a scheme to provide support to State Food Labs for upgrading the laboratory infrastructure along with trained manpower for utilising the sophisticated test equipment for a limited period.

Key Facts:

  • India ranks 71 out of 113 countries on the Global Ranking Food Security Index.
  • According to World Health Organization (WHO), about half a million die each year from the consumption of contaminated food.

  • Children under five are worst affected by foodborne illness, with 125,000 deaths each year.
  • According to the World Bank, the loss of productivity due to foodborne illnesses costs about US$ 95.2 billion per year for low-and middle-income countries and the cost of treating is US$15 billion.

Important Initiatives for Food Safety in India

  • Eat Right India Movement: to transform the country’s food system to ensure safe, healthy, and sustainable food for all Indians.
    • It is aligned to the National Health Policy 2017 with its focus on preventive and promotive healthcare and flagship programs like Ayushman Bharat, POSHAN Abhiyaan, Anemia Mukt Bharat, and Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • Eat Right Station Certification: awarded by FSSAI to railway stations that set benchmarks (as per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006) in providing safe and wholesome food to passengers.
  • The Eat Right Research Awards and Grants: for high-quality research in the area of food safety and nutrition in India have also been launched.
  • PAN-India survey: for identifying the presence of industrially produced trans fatty acid content in the selected foods has been released.
  • Effort to engage industries on the issue of plastic in food packaging: food businesses signed a pledge on becoming “Plastic Waste Neutral”.
    • The aim can be achieved by collecting, processing, and recycling 100% of post-consumer plastic waste from across the sources.
  • Ayurveda Aahar: Ayurveda Aahar’s logo is meant to create a unique identity of ‘Ayurveda Aahar’ and aims to facilitate its easy identification.
    • The logo contains the initials of Ayurveda and Ahara with 5 leaves symbolizing five elements of nature.

    • Ayurveda Aahar refers to food prepared following the recipes or ingredients and/or processes as per methods described in the books of Ayurveda listed under ‘Schedule A’ of the regulations.


  • Access to safe and nutritious food is a fundamental human right and element of local culture. Food safety also has an element of equity, in that often the poorest are those most affected by unsafe food.
  • Therefore, people-focused food safety investments are important to also leverage inequity and to help achieve SDGs 5, 8, 10, 16, and 17.
  • There is a need for a high-level commitment to food safety on a political, financial, and scientific level to ensure food safety from ‘Farm to Fork’.
  • What every player in the field of food safety should realize is that each one has a critical role to play, and there has to be collective and well-coordinated action.
  • It is essential to create the space and opportunities for a whole-society dialogue on food control systems, with the involvement of the government, knowledge actors, civil society organizations, and the private sector.
  • A global framework, a supranational mechanism for accountability that will allow countries to develop food safety strategies and track countries’ progress, is a necessity.

Source: The Hindu, Indian Express, Observer Research Foundation

Mains Question:

Q. Food safety is a shared responsibility between the Governments, producers, and consumers and everyone has a role to play to ensure the food we consume is safe and healthy. Discuss

Q. Why is Food safety necessary for “zero hunger” under Sustainable Development Goal 2? What steps have been taken by the government so far?