Government to strengthen FSSAI and State Food Regulators
The government has decided to formulate a scheme for strengthening the Food Safety and Standards of India (FSSAI) as well the State regulators by adopting measures that involve capacity building and setting up of laboratories and upgrading the existing ones. Presently, the nation has about 160 food testing laboratories, out of which 72 are in the government laboratories sector and 80 are private accredited laboratories. The ministry is working on evaluation of all the government laboratories to find out where the deficiencies lie. Another focus area for the government shall be increasing awareness about food safety.
The proposed scheme has been formulated for both food and drugs. So far, the Cabinet has approved the scheme for drugs and the approval for foods will most likely come soon. The food regulatory bodies and the testing laboratories have already Â their work being cut out as they are short staffed. Out of the proposed Rs.1, 750 crore aboutÂ Rs.800 crore will be utilised for the FSSAI and the remaining amount would be used on the state food regulators.
The Heath Secretary also mentioned the fact that the FSSAI only sets standards for different food products and the implementation is carried out by the state governments. It is the states that are responsible for issuing licences and they are the ones who enforce the Act and all the prosecutions.