For all street food junkies who love lip-smacking roadside eateries but disgust them too for lack of hygiene, can now relish them fully without regretting over safety issues. India’s food safety regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has come down hard on street food vendors to sanitize road side snacks through multiple initiatives. Pawan Kumar Agarwal, the man in-charge of quality testing and CEO of FSSAI share the changes underway.
Tell us about your project ‘Clean Street Food’ and how will it help India tackle the hygiene issue?
Through this initiative of capacity building of food vendors we have found a model and we can do it across the country. This will benefit the poorest section of the society and also the citizen and consumers in many ways. As a country, we are not known for good hygiene and particularly there is concern about the basic hygiene. This initiative will help us in coming out of very crucial situation that is prevailing in the country. We are working with Ministry of Skill Development and other tourism and hospitality partners under Pradhanmantri Kaushal Yogna for capacity and skill building of the food vendors.
How does the recently launched FSSAI app empowers consumers?
FSSAI app is a free mobile application developed by FSSAI which would help consumers make informed food choices and bring to light the vendors who are operating without proper licenses and violating the safety norms. The app provides food safety tips, essential information about product and establishment and a hygiene rating for food product and outlet.
Would there be any acknowledgment for these vendors from the government?
Vendors would receive a government recognised certificate that would encourage them to continue upgrading their skills and knowledge through structured training to help them achieve a formal qualification.
Are food brands and restaurants also in the frame of quality testing?
We are working on a plan to bring all the restaurants in the food safety propaganda. We will partner with all food brands and restaurants in the country, train one member from each of them at FSSAI about the basic food safety and hygiene and they will be placed at these restaurants. Hence, it will become easier for both of us to make sure that the food served is meeting the basic hygiene tool and the person looking after it is trained by FSSAI.
How are you executing this initiative of providing safe street food?
We are planning to reach out to the smallest food vendors and see if they adopt the basic hygiene rule. In Phase I of the project, over two lakh street food vendors in identified areas would be taken up including all metropolitan and major cities, pilgrimage and tourist centres. There are 23,000 street food vendors in Delhi alone who are being trained, skilled and educated by our partners on hygiene factors. Based on the results, this would be rolled out in other places in the country. We are also planning to work out for Railways and Ports.