No shortage of food safety officers, says FSSAI CEO

No shortage of food safety officers, says FSSAI CEO

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pawan Kumar Agarwal, on Wednesday, said that 824 posts of FSSAI, across the country have been sanctioned.

Speaking to reporters, here, he said, no state has shortage of food safety officers. “In fact, Tamil Nadu has more number of officers than required. We are trying to rationalise that. The posts of officers, including Central Food Safety Officer, technicians and other staff, have been sanctioned. With their appointment, the country’s food safety authority will be properly manned,” he said.

When asked about food safety in prasadam distributed in temples, he said, the response is good from the temples. “Initially, a few temples such as Tirupati had some reservations. Our teams are working with the temple managements so that food safety practices are followed in temples and other places of worship,” he said.

When asked about the challenges in checking food safety in places of worship, he said, it’s not a technological challenge, but, a cultural challenge. Kitchens in places of worship are similar to the kitchens of catering establishments. But, with different recipes. It is an issue of sensitivity, he said.

CEO appreciates state Agarwal appreciated the Food Safety Commissioner of Karnataka and other officials in ensuring safety in the midday meal scheme. “Food safety officials are taking samples and are testing the food items regularly. There are guidelines on food safety and hygiene for the midday meal scheme. The Education department is primarily responsible for following the guidelines. Even the Commissioner of Food Safety has the responsibility. The officials do samplings and tests, regularly,” he said.

FSSAI has created a framework for uplifting the hygiene of food vendors through a scheme called, ‘Theme Street Food hubs’. It’s a cluster approach wherein FSSAI works with ministerial bodies and state government to identify a cluster. The authorities will conduct a survey on the availability of water, electricity, cleanliness of cart among others in the region. “We will give time to the vendors to improve the condition. Later, post audit will be done, before awarding ‘Clean Street Food Hub’, tag,” he said.

“We had identified a few cities in Karnataka, but, the authorities concerned did not come forward. Mysuru is a good place to implement the Theme Street Food hubs,” he said.