Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who launched the Surakshit Khadya Abhiyan, a pan-India campaign for safe food, here last evening, said that this grass root movement will benefit the common man and the entire nation.
He said there is a dire need for promoting awareness among street food vendors about ensuring the basic practices of hygiene, sanitation and safety on food items that they sell to customers.
Paswan mentioned that food safety is an inseparable part of food security, and added that food-borne disease outbreaks, which can be prevented by hygienic and food safety practices only, have severe health consequences.
He emphasised that the strength of the Surakshit Khadya Abhiyan lies in the model of involving key stakeholders as partners to strengthen connect and outreach to consumers, street food operators and industry across the country.
The initiative, he said, complements the widely popular multi-media campaign by his ministry under the brand name of Jago Grahak Jago, which empowers consumers about their rights and demands.
C. Viswanath, Secretary in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, said that the basic right to life is food, and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has enacted the Food Security Act as a stepping stone.
He added that it is now proposed to address food safety as a priority by focussing on creating awareness among the street food vendors.
With heightened consumer demand for safe food and new product innovations from the industry, India has moved yet another step to be at par with global standards of food safety and quality, said Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Banerjee added that the Abhiyan is designed to become instrumental in triggering the continual and breakthrough improvements required to achieve Food Safety Excellence in the years to come.
Referring to the necessity of shared responsibility for food safety, Siraj Chaudhry, Chairman, Cargill India, said access to safe food is a basic human right.
"As a company dedicated to nourishing people, our goal is to provide high-quality, safe food every time, everywhere. We believe, in today's complex and interdependent food supply chain, food safety is a shared responsibility of the farmers, the food industry, regulators as well as consumers. We are glad to join hands with CII as National Industry Partner and be a catalyst to improve food safety awareness in the country as well as drive the agenda of 'safe food as everyone's right' through the Surakshit Khadya Abhiyan," he said.
Food safety is a prime concern today, said Ashim Sanyal, COO, VOICE.
"Healthy consumers can make a healthy nation. To meet this need of the hour Consumer VOICE has joined hands in "Surakshit Khadya Abhiyan" and will make consumers aware through dissemination of knowledge on the importance of food safety and Quality as their basic right. Food business operators across all sales counters have to abide by hygiene and safety norms for health of the consumers," he said.
Arbind Singh, National Co-ordinator, NASVI, said municipal authorities must understand that security at the workplace will lead to food vendors focusing on hygiene and safe food and food vendors must appreciate that hygiene and safe food will enhance their business.
The Surakshit Khadya Abhiyan would include a series of campaigns towards sensitizing consumers, street food operators and industry on their roles, rights, importance of hygienic practices and systems for food safety risk mitigation.
In order to enhance the involvement of people from all walks of life, including general consumers, schools, colleges and street food operators, safe food walkathons and interactive sessions, would be organized across metros and two-tier cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Jamshedpur, Ahmedabad, Mohali, Pune Siliguri, Haryana, Jaipur and Chennai.
Other events like food summits, round tables and Workshops would be aimed at upgrading supply chain participants across the food industry to best in class levels of Food Safety. Mass dissemination of food safety practices would also be organized by strategically leveraging print, electronic and digital media.
This pan-India campaign for safe food is an initiative of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), the Voluntary Organization in Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE) and Cargill India.