New Delhi: As bad food habits have been found causing more death and disabilities than tobacco in the whole world, more so in India, Union Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan minced no words saying bad food habits are a certain recipe for disaster for health.
Reciting scriptural wisdom, the minister said, if we eat for satiating the craving of two and a half inch of tongue, we are as if digging grave for ourselves by our own teeth. Dr Harshvardhan was speaking on the occasion of World Food Day celebrations in FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) Headquarters.
After being ‘cooked’ by the debate among renowned policy experts, audience had a light hearted homilies from Dr Harshvardhan who hammered home the message of eating right in a good humoured simplicity. He said one needs no medicine if he eats right. Using right strategy, eat right movement is bound to success as polio eradication program did in his leadership.
FSSAI, The country’s food regulator, launched several innovative initiatives to strengthen food safety administration and scale up the ‘Eat right India’ movement.
In order to strengthen food safety administration, FSSAI launched the ‘Food Safety Mitra (FSMs)’ scheme to support small and medium scale food businesses in compliance to the food safety law by facilitating licensing and registration, hygiene ratings and training. Apart from strengthening food safety, this scheme would also create new employment opportunities for youth, particularly with food and nutrition background. The FSM would undergo training and certification by FSSAI to do their work and get paid by food businesses for their services. The first batch of 15 FSMs were awarded certificates today. Details of the scheme are available at https://fssai.gov.in/mitra/
FSSAI also launched a jacket for field staff. This jacket has a smart design to hold tech devices like tablets/smart phone, a QR code and RFID tag for identification and tracking. Apart from providing safety to field staff on duty, this would bring in efficiency, professionalism and transparency in food safety administration and bring in a sense of ownership & visibility of FSOs.
FSSAI has partnered with the Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council (DWSSC) under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to launch a training course for domestic workers and homemakers across the country. In the first phase, one lakh domestic workers and homemakers will be trained through training partners of DWSSC in association with RWAs. This would be scaled up in due course.
On this occasion, FSSAI also launched a reusable cloth bag (‘Eat Right Jhola’) to replace plastic bags for grocery shopping with retail chains such as Big Bazaar, More, 24/7 and Reliance Fresh etc. These cloth bags are being provided on rental basis through a private textile rental service company. Proper and regular washing of cloth bags is essential to ensure safety and hygiene, as on repeated use, bags are often contaminated with microorganisms and bacteria.
For scaling up the Eat Right India movement across the country, FSSAI has got endorsement of several celebrities. Two short films on repurposing of used cooking oil into biodiesel and nutrition in the first 1000 days of life featuring Shri Virat Kohli and Ms. Juhi Chawla respectively were released on the occasion.
FSSAI has recently partnered with NASSCOM Foundation to develop an online platform to connect over 50 NGOs working to prevent food waste in the country. A short film on the same was also released. In addition, FSSAI is publishing two books, namely ‘Gandhi and Food’ and ‘Eat Right Textbook’.
Union Health Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the chief guest at the function, launched these initiatives. A large number of representatives from the government, international organizations and foreign embassies, food industry, civil society organizations, development agencies, academia, professional associations in food and nutrition had gathered to celebrate World Food Day. Students and faculty from over sixty universities and colleges across the country participated in the event through a webcast.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Harsh Vardhan complemented FSSAI for its out-of- the-box thinking to reach out to almost all sections of society in its efforts to provide safe food to citizens. Dr. K. Subramanian, Chief Economic Advisor, Govt. of India and Arun Maira, former member of Planning Commission of India & former India Chairman of Boston Consulting Group gave important inputs for behavioral and systemic change for making EAT Right India;
Sangram Singh, the world’s best professional wrestler, echoed the mantra of the Eat Right India movement and said, “Khana bhook se kam, Paani double, Work-out triple and Hasana chauguna.” Citing his real life experiences, he further added, “Real wealth is health and what challenges you, changes you. So embrace this mantra for health challenges.”
Pawan Aggarwal , CEO, FSSAI, said, ‘ FSSAI is inspired by Gandhi’s views and vision on health and aligned to global thinking and discourse on social and behavioural change in societies’