“There is no dearth of rules, regulations or laws in India to protect the health of consumers or to ensure fair practices in the food trade. But, laxity or some sort of `misfiring’ at the implementation level has been identified as the key problem facing the State in terms of food safety,’’ says Dr N. Anandavally, Food Safety Consultant of the World Health Organisation.
Talking to The Hindu, Dr Anandavally who is also a member of many expert committees of the WHO and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said the reported move to emulate Dubai-model food safety in Kerala was nothing short of a ‘ridiculous’ idea.
Dr Anandavally, who had reviewed the food safety regulations of Dubai Municipality in 2009 and had trained many a senior official at the municipality, says that the rules and regulations in India are more science-based than that of the small Emirate.
She said the food safety rules and regulations in India were developed after continuous monitoring, review and expert consultations over a period of nine years and are at par with that of any developed country. “We have got extra strong teeth, but lack of will and effort to make an effective grind with it is the problem with us, ultimately making a mockery of the entire system itself,’’ she adds.
“Emulating Dubai-model food safety system in Kerala would be a sheer wastage of time and money as our regulations are more science-based and industry-specific that very well spell out a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Good Hygiene Practice (GHP), and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) requirements.’’
Dr Anandavally said, unlike Dubai, India has got a diverse food culture and a wide variety of food industries. But, what Dubai is getting are various sorts of processed and imported food, facilitating a more easier control on the clients and suppliers which can never be compared with the Kerala scenario, she adds.
Dr Anandavally said an improved supporting system was a must to ensure a strong food control and safety mechanism in the State.
According to her, basic infrastructure facility is also an important aspect to be taken into consideration while talking about food safety. Water, general sanitary conditions, drainage system, import control on various food items are all good and systematic in Dubai. The cold chain system there works well. There is no power shortage in Dubai. All shops are well arranged there and not to speak of their excellent warehousing and approval system, she said.
She stressed the need to impart proper training to all food inspectors and food handlers in an earnest effort to effectively implement the prevailing rules of the land, instead of blindly following any alien model which would never work in the typical Kerala scenario.