Karnataka has now speeded up efforts to ensure preparedness in terms of infrastructure and personnel to help the industry adhere to the Food Safety & Standards Act (FSSA), 2006.
The state, which has four food labs, is now looking to have a fifth facility in Bangalore, under the Karnataka Health Systems Development Project, which is funded by the World Bank.
The state is also contemplating on setting up mobile vans to simplify the surveillance of food units at a faster pace. Further efforts are on to offer online issue of licences and renewal. In this regard, the Union government has now software to network the state food commissionerates across the country. Karnataka is hoping to be among the first to install the same.
Further the state will also set up helplines and a website to solve the issues of the industry in terms of comprehending and consulting the finer points of the Act.
In this regard, the state has identified four food safety labs for which NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) certification is being sought and currently a Gap Analysis is on to help compare the actual performance with potential performance, according to B S Ramaprasad, Karnataka commissioner for food, directorate of health and family welfare.
The four labs present in the state are being upgraded with the help of state health department and national rural health mission scheme. Also the notification pertaining to food safety officers is complete. Training to food safety officers has been imparted, recruitment of adjudicating officer is complete and constitution of special courts in the 30 districts of the state is also through.
“The cog in the wheel is the required staff, laboratories and related infrastructure. While we have 104 FSO, there is a shortfall of 130 personnel. We have designated district surveillance officers to oversee the inspection of food joints at all levels,” he added.
He further stated, “Going hand in hand with the required labs and FSOs, we are now on an aggressive drive to implement information, education and communication (IEC) which combines strategies, approaches and methods that enable individuals to correctly understand the FSSA.”
On a concluding note, he said, “The key task for the food industry is to remain self- compliant, implement recall and improve tasks which will help it to easily adhere to the FSSA. For the government it is the challenge of taking the stakeholders into confidence.”