New packaging technology for midday meals likely

Indian Institute of Packaging is readying a proposal for Centre

New packaging technology for midday meals likely

 In the backdrop of the recent midday meal tragedy in Bihar, the need to ensure supply of safe and quality food to schoolchildren has acquired a sense of urgency.

The Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) has come forward to lend its expertise to the implementation of the midday meal scheme in the country to ensure quality food for children.

The IIP is finalising a proposal, to be submitted to the Centre for consideration. “Various designs are being explored like developing a collapsible and returnable package which the children can carry home and bring back to school the next day,” said IIP director N C Saha. “A prototype is being developed. It will be submitted to the government in a few months.”

The IIP had conducted a study on implementation of the midday meal scheme and found several drawbacks in preparation and distribution of food. “We took the initiative last year. In Maharashtra and West Bengal, we did a survey at 35 centres which are implementing the midday meal project.

We took it up as our own R&D project. We are in the process of developing a prototype to ensure that the quality of food is maintained,” Saha told reporters here on the sidelines of a national seminar on “global trends in packaging of food, pharmaceuticals and bulk drugs.”

The midday meal scheme, being implemented in over 1.36 lakh schools across the country, poses a huge challenge for the implementing agencies. The IIP’s proposal may work if the midday meal is supplied in a centralised manner. Now, the scheme is being implemented by state governments.

The IIP director said the institute had submitted a proposal to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, an autonomous body managing the affairs of the Tirumala temple, for packaging the famous “laddu prasadam.” The proposal claimed that the item would remain fit for consumption for about two weeks. “The proposal, involving vacuum packing, is under consideration,” he said.

The IIP had also implemented a project for the Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu.
The institute is working on using biodegradable materials like coconut shells for packaging, said Saha.

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