We need to ensure implementation of laws and compliance of standards for safe and wholesome food: Dr Harsh Vardhan
“We not only have to provide right food, but also ensurethat there isstrict implementation of laws and the compliance of standards to assure that citizens have safe and wholesome food.”This was stated by Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare at the inauguration of the first ever state-of-the-art National Food Laboratory-Delhi, NCR of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) at Ghaziabad, here today. The Union Health Minister also laid the foundation stone of the FSSAI Tower along with the Minister of State (HFW), Ashwini Kumar Choubey. At the function, Dr Harsh Vardhan released a report “Food Laboratories in India: a Meta Study” and awarded Certificate of Recognition to 13 National Reference Laboratories.
Speaking at the inaugural event that also marked the 13th anniversary of the Food Authority since the Food Safety and Standards Act came into effect in 2006, Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that under the visionary and inspirational leadership of our beloved Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, health has become one of the top priorities of this government and it reflects that the Prime Minister is committed to fundamentally transforming the country and give quality health services to the people.“This could be gauged from the fact that there is now a network of food testing laboratories established in the country and recognized by FSSAI. Such laboratories have increased to 261 as of now from 138 during the year 2014,” he elaborated.
Dr Harsh Vardhan further mentioned that under the guidance of our Prime Minister several pro-poor policies and schemes have been taken up and there are perceptible and measurable results in every sector. He said thatAyushmanBharat Yojana isbenefitting millions since its launch last year. “The scheme ensures that people don’t fall below poverty line due to catastrophic hospitalization,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said. He added that with 1,50,000 Health and Wellness Centrescoming up by the year 2022, quality healthcare will reach every doorstep in the country. Similarly,the government is expanding quality tertiary health care facilities in all parts of the country, he added. With the announcement of new AIIMS, the total number of AIIMS will go up to 22, he said.
Dr Harsh Vardhan also commended FSSAI for taking the initiative to operationalise a system to approve the rapid kits and tests. This approval system, a first of its kind in terms of regulatory provisioning, would help hasten decision making by the regulatory officials and also provide a quicker means to create information base on emerging risks as well as ground realities of safety issues. “I am glad to know that FSSAI has brought out a simple lab in a box which is named Food Safety Magic Box with a compilation of 101 easy tests. It will serve as a best pedagogical tool to educate children about the concept of safe food. The Magic Box would certainly enhance the engagement and build scientific temper to unleash creative potential among students through simple and fun experiments around food”, he stated.
On this occasion, Dr Harsh Vardhan also presented the State of Uttar Pradesh with two “Food Safety on Wheels (FSW)vans”to cater to the food testing requirements in Ghaziabad and Western UP. These mobile food-testing vans would be utilized for training and awareness-building activities as well. He stated that in near future 500 such food safety and testing vans shall be available to support the States in ensuring food safety.
Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS (HFW), congratulated FSSAI and stated that “This Public-Private-Partnership in the food testing ecosystem will synergize the efficiency of the private sector and the regulatory control of the Government in an efficient manner. I have full confidence in the success of this partnership and hope to see more such collaborations for other laboratories in the country.”
The National Food Laboratory (NFL), Delhi, NCR, former Food Research & Standardized Laboratory (FRSL, Ghaziabad) is one of the two premier referral laboratories under the direct administrative control of FSSAI. NFL-Delhi, NCR, renovated and operationalized under a unique Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model is the first of its kind venture in the food sector. It also houses state-of-the-art collaborative training centres namely The Food Safety Solution Centre (FSSC) and Centre for Microbiological Analysis Training (C-MAT). NFL-Delhi, NCR symbolizes synchronization of policy driven partnerships and collaboration with a holistic approach and a future vision. The NFL is furnished with a comprehensive array of equipment with the latest technologies and facilities to conduct analysis as per global accreditation standards for testing and calibration. FSSAI will also be establishing NFLs at Mumbai and Chennai in the near future along the same lines.
The FSSAI Tower situated at NFL-Delhi, NCR, has been envisaged to accommodate not only additional manpower but also host visiting faculty and trainee officers during trainings and conferences. Other facilities include a cafeteria, day-care centre, fitness centre, conference hall and training centre. This eight-floor tower with adequate parking facilities shall further augment the capabilities of FSSAI and its National Food Laboratory.
Also present at the event were, Ms. Rita Teotia, Chairperson (FSSAI), Shri Pawan Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer (FSSAI) along with over 200 stakeholders from the Government, scientific community, food businesses and corporates and partners to mark this occasion.