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Food Safety Continues To Be Our Primary Responsibility: Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI At World Food India 2017

"We at FSSAI would like to play a supportive role for the food processing industry for this transformation. We are merely six years in operation, under the integrated food safety law in the country," Pawan Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer of FSSAI

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At World Food India 2017, there was a plenary session on ‘One Nation, One Food Law- Enabling Regulatory Environment for Investment in the Food Sector’ which focused on the enormous amount of work done by the food regulatory body, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), where the harmonization of food additives standards with Codex, formulation of new regulations on nutraceuticals and food recall in creating an enabling environment were discussed.

In his opening remarks, Pawan Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer of FSSAI said, “This mega event has the potential to be a game changer for the food processing industry in India. We at FSSAI would like to play a supportive role for the food processing industry for this transformation. We are merely six years in operation, under the integrated food safety law in the country. Over the past 6-7 years, we have tried to look at the issue of food safety and providing wholesome nutritious food to the people in a comprehensive manner.” He also added, “This is our commitment to you, to inspire trust, and win the trust of all our stakeholders. We have as of yesterday launched the Food Regulatory Portal which aims at ease of entry of new food businesses, investors in the food sector. This essentially would mean hassle-free licensing of new food businesses and investments and bringing greater clarity to our standards, allowing our standards to global benchmarks. Enabling feedback from food businesses to review our standards and give feedback, so that innovation is enabled in our food sector, so consumers have better and healthier choices is on the portal.”

“A major concern of food businesses is around enforcement. Food testing is another area of concern. A major investment is being made for upgrading the labs and capacity building of the staff. We have also created a single platform for sampling and food testing, which will ensure testing is done in a consistent and reliable manner throughout the country. The platform we have created would ensure a coordinated approach by all regulatory agencies so that food businesses would get a hassle-free environment”, said Agarwal, adding that, “Enabling requirement would not mean any compromise or negotiation with food safety at all. Food safety continues to be our primary responsibility. My appeal is for businesses to provide healthier options to our citizens. We are committed towards ease of doing business. There is absolute positivity in the work of FSSAI.” There was also an exchange of MOU between FSSAI, EIC (Export Inspection Council) and GFSP (Global Food Safety Partnership) for the setting up of training centres for capacity building, an International Training Centre for Food Safety.

“I have been hugely impressed by the FSSAI and the systems being set up, as well the department of consumer affairs for the measures set up. One of the things I heard from the FSSAI presentation, was the soft touch declaration, which we call lighter touch declaration in UK”, said Paul Stenett, Chief Executive, The United Kingdom Accreditation Service, adding that, “Many of the retailers in Europe require higher food safety standards, that’s where the certification system comes in. We want to promote the system of Tested Once, Applicable Everywhere, so there must be an accreditation system globally set up for exports. We are looking at starting a joint accreditation system with NABCB. We are delighted to be involved with our counterparts in India for promoting the ease of business.”

Geetu Verma, Executive Director- Foods and Regional VP Marketing, South Asia, Hindustan Unilever Limited said, “The answer to what we can do further in terms of cascading the work to the unorganized sector is expanding trust, expanding the definition of safety to safety and nutritious food. When the pull comes from the consumer, the producers have to fall in line, thus making consumers smart by putting it into school curriculum becomes integral. All the work being done is in the right area, we just have to work together to amplify it.”

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