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Food Hygiene and Safety in India through FSSAI’s Smart Action

Safe and hygienic food is a fundamental right of citizens. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) as the apex food regulator has the crucial responsibility of ensuring this. Along with imposing food safety laws and standards, FSSAI has launched innovative voluntary schemes like the Hygiene Rating and Responsible Place to Eat to incentivize higher compliance. These smart initiatives are helping strengthen India’s food safety ecosystem.

Need for Enhanced Hygiene Consciousness

Despite rules mandating safe processes, hygiene awareness among food handlers in India still has scope for improvement. Issues keep arising around:

  • Lack of handwashing and cleanliness habits
  • Cross-contamination risks during raw and cooked food handling
  • Poor servicing and maintenance of equipment
  • Infestation and pest hazards in storage and premises
  • Improper waste disposal leads to contamination
  • Usage of unapproved additives, colors, etc.
  • Food decay due to temperature control gaps

This underscores the need for more robust hygiene capacity building. Voluntary schemes create positive public visibility that boosts compliance.

Overview of FSSAI’s Hygiene Rating Scheme

The Hygiene Rating Scheme provides food service businesses like restaurants, street vendors, sweet shops, etc. an opportunity to get certified for meeting higher benchmarks. The process involves:

  1. After applying for participation, FoSCoS FSSAI inspection officers conduct a physical audit of the premises as a third party.
  2. Various process and infrastructure parameters are checked through observation and swab tests.
  3. A rating is provided on a scale of 1 to 5 based on evaluation of parameters.
  4. Ratings are prominently displayed at the outlet entrance for public view and listed on FSSAI’s platform.
This framework allows consumers to make informed choices while driving businesses to visibly signal their hygiene standards.

Parameters Assessed for Hygiene Rating

Some key aspects evaluated by FSSAI officers during hygiene rating inspection include:

  1. Food handling and serving processes
  2. Personal hygiene and medical fitness of food handlers
  3. Layout and design of premises with pest control
  4. Water supply, drainage, and waste disposal mechanisms
  5. Condition of equipment, storage infrastructure, and temperature control
  6. Usage of food-grade packaging material
  7. Adoption of FSSAI-prescribed food safety practices

Incentivizing Continuous Improvement

The 1 to 5-star rating creates positive competition among FSSAI certificate businesses to outperform others. Eateries are motivated to undertake upgrades like commercial kitchen equipment, premise redesign, pest control systems, etc. to score higher. FSSAI also provides guidance to help businesses identify and bridge gaps. This enables continuous improvement.

Responsible Place to Eat Scheme by FSSAI

This scheme aims to encourage restaurants and eateries to proactively adopt practices that promote public health and responsible eating by:

  1. Using healthier cooking mediums like olive oil instead of hydrogenated oils
  2. Increasing dishes with whole grains, fruits, etc.
  3. Clearly displaying nutritional content and sourcing info
  4. Promoting mindful portion sizes to reduce obesity
  5. Implementing smart menu labeling like healthy symbols
  6. Avoiding false or misleading health claims
  7. Procuring local, seasonal ingredients to support farmers
  8. Introducing separate kids-friendly safe menus
  9. Eateries self-commit to much higher standards to get certified as a Responsible Place to Eat by FSSAI. This nudges customers towards informed buying decisions that benefit their well-being.

    Conclusion

    Voluntary initiatives by FSSAI like hygiene ratings and responsible eating rewards offer positive incentives to food businesses to meet higher safety and nutrition standards. By publicly recognizing establishments excelling on these fronts, FSSAI mobilizes consumer demand to push the entire industry towards improved practices. This lifts the overarching food safety environment in a progressive manner using certification, competition, and community participation. Our informed consumption and engagement can support the wider adoption of these promising schemes.

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