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Gujarat Ahead of its Times In Food Safety

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Dipika Chauhan
Deputy Commissioner Food, Food and Drugs Control Administration, Gujarat

Every year, FDCA tests nearly 13,000-14,000 food samples, covering sales, godowns, restaurants, hawkers, manufacturers, imports, MDM, Anganwadis, etc. Moreover, continuous inspections, raids, surveillance, training to small FBOs and creating public awareness ensure that the citizens get quality food, says Dipika Chauhan, Deputy Commissioner Food, Food and Drugs Control Administration, Gujarat, in conversation with Hemangini S Rajput of Elets News Network (ENN).

Q. What are the parameters being followed to ensure food safety in Gujarat?

In order to combat food adulteration and ensure that the people of Gujarat get safe food, the State has put regulatory as well as prohibitory parameters in place. To enforce regulatory parameters, our food safety officers (FSOs) do inspections, take samples, issue notices, conduct surveillance of the samples and provide training to Food Business Operators (FBOs). For prohibitory work, we prosecute wrongdoers. Also, cases are submitted for adjudication where fine is imposed.

Q. What new technologies FDCA has taken up for making the quality assessment more accurate and easy?

Gujarat is equipped with six food testing laboratories with high-tech instruments. Four mobile testing and exhibition vans equipped with on the spot testing facilities and food safety and management systems help our field officers in their work.

Q. How FDCA is ensuring availability of quality food to the citizens? What are the parameters being followed?

Every year, FDCA tests nearly 13,000-14,000 food samples, covering sales, godowns, restaurants, hawkers, manufacturers, imports, Mid-Day Meals, Anganwadis, etc. Moreover, continuous inspections, raids, surveillance, training to small FBOs and creating public awareness ensure that the citizens get quality food.

Besides, we also have a 24X7 helpline number (18002335500) and the FDCA website to help consumers directly register their complaints. These complaints are monitored at the highest level of FDCA.

Q. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has rolled out a scheme for strengthening the food testing system in the country, what is your take on it?

To strengthen the food testing system, Gujarat has already taken certain initiatives like enhancing capabilities of our laboratories, training FBOs, creating public awareness, upgrading the quality of street foods, undertaking IEC (Information Education Communication) activities, introducing mobile testing vans, and conducting surveillance of seasonal foods, etc.

Q. Any suggestions that you would like to give to the food companies looking to enter Gujarat?

A company entering Gujarat, either as a manufacturer or as a sales and marketing company, should first ensure the quality of the products, nutritional values of the products, and maintaining good hygiene at manufacturing unit, supply chain and storage. The company should invoke confidence in the quality of products during the entire life cycle.

Q. What all e-Governance initiatives have been taken up by the FDCA Gujarat in recent times?

The Gujarat is ahead of its times in issuing online licenses and registrations to the Food Business Operators. All the officers and laboratories are covered by the food safety management system as part of the e-Governance initiative of FDCA.

A company entering Gujarat, either as a manufacturer or as a sales and marketing company, should first ensure the quality of the products, nutritional values of the products, and maintaining good hygiene at manufacturing unit, supply chain and storage.

Q. What are the future plans of FDCA Gujarat for the food industry?

FDCA Gujarat plans to ensure the availability of safe food to the people of Gujarat. Also on the agenda is to educate the consumer about their rights, punish the wrongdoers and train maximum number of people on food safety.

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