TN : Govt run temples to get certification from FSSAI

Chennai sources added that an official said as many as 47 major temples in Tamilnadu run by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department will get Food Safety and Standards Authority of India certification for their ‘prasadam’. Accordingly prasadam, a material substance of food, is a religious offering and is normally consumed by devotees after offering prayers. 
Meanwhile the exercise, aimed at ensuring quality and bringing in standardisation, began with the prasadam of the famous Sri Palani Murugan temple’s (Dhandayuthapaniswamy temple) ‘Panchamirtham’ (a mix of banana, ghee, honey, sugar and dates). The official said “Palani Murugan temple was our pilot project. We have initiated the process of getting FSSAI certification in other 46 temples as well”.
Moreover the official said, “Quality assurance is our priority incidents of people taking ill after consuming prasadam in some private temples drew our attention and we decided to go in for licensing.” Earlier in April this year, two women died and over 30 people took ill after consuming prasadam provided by a privately administered temple at Mettupalayam near Coimbatore. Moreover Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple, Rameswaram Sri Ramanathaswamy temple, Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple and Tiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara temple are among the major shrines of Tamilnadu.

Food Safety Dept . launches ‘Eat Right Kerala’

Waste not, just eat it

UN estimates global leftover food products enough to feed 3.3 billion people
A lot of food is wasted in our houses, restaurants, supermarkets and at social events.
More than a decade ago, a Taiwanese friend took me to an all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant during one of my visits to Taipei. We had to take raw food materials from the refrigerators and boil them in the individual ovens placed in the dining tables before eating. However, there was something else that amazed me more. According to the restaurant rule, one needed to pay a penalty for leftover or wasted food, which was charged according to its weight.
A seafood restaurant called Hachikyo in Sapporo, Japan also imposes a fine if you do not finish your meal. The explanation is that the fishermen work in harsh and dangerous conditions. It is forbidden to waste even one grain of rice in your bowl as a mark of gratitude. The fine really works; hardly anyone leaves food unfinished.
The consciousness for not wasting food is slowly becoming more pronounced in this part of the world. In early 2019, a Telangana restaurant named Kedari Food Court was in the news for following a ‘carrot and stick’ policy to restrict food wastage. It would charge a fine of Rs 50 for wasting food, but give a reward of Rs 10 for a finished meal. Interestingly, the owner observed that people going there had become very careful not to waste food, and as a result, the number of times that the penalty was imposed had come down.
According to a Condé Nast Traveler report, several restaurants in Germany have started imposing a fine on customers failing to finish their meals. In 2016, Christian Schmidt, who was then Germany’s agriculture minister, said that the country would have an ambitious strategy to halve food waste by 2030.
A lot of food is wasted in our houses, restaurants, supermarkets and at social events. Upon learning that 40 per cent of the food produced in the United States of America ultimately gets discarded, the Canadian filmmaking couple, Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer, made the entertaining documentary, Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story (2014), where they conducted a six-month experiment of eating only food that is discarded or will be discarded. Several food activists interviewed in the documentary spoke about the flimsy reasons for food wastage — largely aesthetic and economic.
Let us consider the case of the United Kingdom in 2017. About 6,00,000 tonnes of food in the restaurant business — a third of total production — is wasted every year in the UK. For every meal eaten in a restaurant, nearly 500 grams of food is wasted — through preparation, spoilage and leftovers on diners’ plates. According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme, food waste costs UK restaurants around £682 million per year, which has a huge financial and environmental impact. The US wastes $165 billion worth of food a year; 15 per cent of the wastage comes from restaurants.
The United Nations found that “global leftover food products are enough to feed 3.3 billion people”. Several food waste reduction programmes worked effectively in different parts of the world. These include waste-fed pigs in Japan, and a garden education curriculum in New Orleans. A disposal programme has reduced household food waste by 30 per cent in South Korea: food waste recycling devices installed in many areas automatically weigh the discarded food and disposal fees are billed based on the weight of the food waste that a family generates.
Food wastage in India is also immense. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India was reportedly drafting rules to check wastage at restaurants and social events such as weddings, and was dealing with issues such as hygiene and transportation of the leftover food. The Delhi government was also preparing a draft policy to keep a check on food wastage at social events in the capital. Public consciousness is important; so is the strict imposition of fines. For example, charging small amounts for plastic bags has drastically reduced their use in US supermarkets. Food, after all, must go into our stomachs, not garbage bins.

Aavin Ghee no more Agmark

Airline meal in Banana leaf

FSSAI inks partnerships with those it is meant to regulate

FSSAI sleeping with ‘enemy’


The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has entered into several partnerships with organisations floated by food companies, sparking off concerns about conflict of interest since these companies are to be regulated by the Authority. 
On its website, FSSAI lists its partnerships, which include one with an organisation called CHIFFS (CII-Hindustan Unilever Initiative on Food Safety Sciences). The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is an industry association that lobbies for corporate interests and Hindustan Lever’s well known food brands include Knorr soups, Brook Bond tea, Lipton, Cornetto and Kissan.
The initiative includes other companies such as Dupont, Keventer Agro, Rasna, Nestle and Dabur. The partnership is “to co-produce food safety as a shared responsibility”. 
The witnesses for the MoU signed between FSSAI and CHIFFS include the regulatory affairs official of Coca-Cola and the executive director of Food and Agriculture Center of Excellence (FACE). FACE is a joint initiative of CII and Jubilant Bhartia, better known for Dominos Pizza and Dunkin Donuts. FACE and CHIFFS seem to have many common people in various capacities. 
FSSAI’s ‘Eat Right India’ campaign has involved several food businesses that have “come forward to voluntarily make commitments” on reducing transfats, sugar and salts in packaged foods and to promote healthier food options. 
The website of the campaign, which lists almost every big food company as a partner, states that food businesses have been nudged to promote healthier food options in several ways. An industry notorious globally for resisting and even flouting regulation is being “nudged” for voluntary commitments though self-regulation by it hasn’t worked in any other country.
Resource Centre for Health Supplements & Nutraceuticals (ReCHaN) is yet another “collaborative initiative of FSSAI, International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplements Association (IADSA) and CII”. Partners of ReCHaN include DSM, one of the biggest multinationals manufacturing micronutrients, HerbaLife, Amway and SunPharma. IADSA described itself as a “global platform to guide the evolution of policy and regulation in the sector”. It is primarily composed of 50 member associations representing over 20,000 companies worldwide and meant to give its members a part in shaping regulation globally and in individual countries. 
FSSAI has also partnered with Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP), a public-private initiative established by the World Bank “to improve food safety in low and middle income countries”. GFSP’s collaborators include food MNCs such as Unilever, General Mills, Cargill, Mars Inc and Nestle. GFSP is supporting FSSAI set up an International Training Centre in Mumbai and is also “facilitating study visits of FSSAI or Indian delegations to various countries”.
In collaboration with Tata Trusts, and various international NGOs working in the field of nutrition, FSSAI is establishing a Food Fortification Resource Centre to “promote large-scale fortification of food and to nudge and facilitate food businesses to adopt fortification as a norm”. Several Tata companies are under FSSAI regulation. The international NGOs involved include Food Fortification Initiative and Nutrition International. Almost all identify themselves as public-private collaborations with collaborators including some of the world’s biggest micronutrient manufacturers, food companies or associations and research institutes floated by the food and beverage industry. 
FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal told TOI that the partnerships were being wrongly interpreted. “Food safety is globally seen as a shared responsibility with focus shifting from prosecution to preventive action to ensure food is safe in the supply chain. We are extremely careful in partnerships as far as conflict of interest is concerned. Capacity building of food businesses and consumer awareness building are important parts of our roles,” said Agarwal.
CII defended its partnership stating that CHIFSS initiatives were focused on building capacity and capability in high-risk areas and that there was no room for any conflict of interest in its initiatives.

Nicotine positive in 7 Pan Masala banned brands


PATNA: Seven of the 12 banned pan masala brands in state have tested nicotine positive by National Tobacco Testing Laboratories (NTTL) and National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The samples of the 15 brands had been sent by the state health department for test after harmful chemical magnesium carbonate was found in 12 of them.
The brands tested nicotine positive were Rajnigandha, Supreme, Kamla Pasand, Rajshree, Rounak, Signature and Madhu. The samples had been collected from Patna, Darbhanga, Gaya, Nawada, Begusarai and Bhojpur.
The order to ban 12 pan masala brands was passed in August after harmful ingredients like magnesium carbonate were found in their samples.
According to the report of NTTL, Rajnigandha, Supreme, Kamla Pasand, Rajshree, Rounak, Signature and Madhu contained 0.042%, 0.186%, 2.26%, 0.163%, 0.208%, 0.046%, 0.151%, and 0.155% nicotine percentage respectively.
It should be noted that the state government banned the sale, distribution and production of nicotine containing products in May 2012, based on the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) report. As per standards of pan masala laid down by FSSAI, it should not contain either magnesium carbonate or nicotine. However, it was revealed that most brands were adding toxic chemicals in pan masala products.
Experts claimed that pan masala itself is carcinogenic and addition of nicotine makes it more addictive and poisonous.
PMCH superintendent Dr Rajiv Ranjan Prasad told this newspaper on Sunday that oral cancer is very common in Bihar because of the use of pan masalas. “It can also lead to cardiac arrest. People, especially youngsters, get influenced to consume such products because of its packaging and the way it is being advertised by the celebrities,” he said and added: “Drug testing laboratory in state failed to play an effective role. Earlier, it was defunct. The food inspectors are not trained properly. However, the state government has been focusing on such things for the last few years.”
Principal secretary (health) Sanjay Kumar told this newspaper that he is yet to receive the formal report from the testing lab. “I received the report on WhatApp from the experts there. We are waiting for the official reports,” he said.
“It is a criminal offence. The pan masala brands are putting something that they are not declaring and above all use of both the chemicals in food items are banned in state. Instead, they wrote on packaging that the product is nicotine-free,” Kumar said and added: “Once, the formal reports are received, we will take appropriate legal action against such pan masala brands.”

Waxed apples from Khan Market find their way to Ministers house

  • The minister found out about the wax on apples when his cook couldn’t wash it as it was too slippery. The cook then scratched it with a knife and found a layer of wax on it.
A fruit shop in Delhi’s Khan Market faced consequences for selling apples a little too shiny to Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
The apples had an extra layer of wax on them to make them look fresh and shiny.
The minister wanted to have Russian salad and asked his cook to wash the apples bought from a reputed shop in Khan Market. The apples were bought for Rs 420 per kg.
The minister found out about the wax on apples when his cook couldn’t wash it as it was too slippery. The cook then scratched it with a knife and found a layer of wax on it.
The Union Consumer Affairs minister raised the issue with his team following which, the team raided the shop and found every fruit and vegetables had a layer of wax on it.
The shopkeeper’s challan has been cancelled following the raid.
According to the shopkeeper, he bought the American apples from Azadpur mandi.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has informed the rules for wax coatings.
All relevant stakeholders are required to label fresh fruits and vegetables that have been waxed. Fruits that are coated with food-grade waxes approved by FSSAI are generally safe to eat.

FSSAI allows hotels to replace drinking water bottles with glass bottles

The experts dealing with plastic-related issues in FSSAI examined the feasibility of the move, and gave the nod.
The food and consumer affairs ministry has also asked the packaged-water industry to come up with suggestions for alternatives to plastic bottles.
In a move aimed at reducing plastic waste, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has said hotels can replace plastic bottles with paper-sealed glass bottles for in-house guests as long as water safety standards are met and the bottles are not sold, according to a circular issued by the food regulator.
The circular dated September 9, a copy of which has been seen by HT, was issued following a representation made by the hotels to the FSSAI a few weeks ago seeking permission to serve water in glass bottles to in-house guests.
“The Taj group of hotels approached us asking if they could serve their guests glass bottled water from their own plants instead of packaged plastic drinking water bottles. We accepted the request for consideration and asked our committee that already deals with issues related to plastics to look into it. The committee gave the go-ahead,” said Pawan Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI.
The experts dealing with plastic-related issues in FSSAI examined the feasibility of the move, and gave the nod.
“…At present hotels across the country serve packaged drinking water in plastic bottles. The overall consumption of plastic bottles used in hotels results in considerable plastic wastage. Taking cognisance of this, it has been decided to allow to serve drinking water in paper sealed reusable glass bottles for captive use within the hotel premises…,” the FSSAI circular reads.
Agarwal says, “In the larger interest of the safety of our environment, we have allowed it not just for the Taj group of hotels [but also] other five or four-star hotels also who are willing, and prepared, to start making the transition. It’s just the beginning; gradually the practice would need to be followed by the entire industry including the caterers,” he added.
A Taj spokesperson confirmed they had approached FSSAI.
“The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) in its endeavour to address the growing plastic menace, pledged on the occasion of Earth Hour 2018 to phase out single-use plastics from all its hotels so as to play a significant role towards protecting the environment…,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“Sometime early this year we undertook to phasing out single use plastic in our rooms across the group. First phase of which included some of our hotels participating in a plastic elimination challenge — to give up plastic usage through innovative solutions. Many of our hotels have reduced usage of plastic by replacing wrapped dry amities in rooms, such as toothbrush, shaving kit etc. with eco-friendly substitutes.”
According to the circular, the hotels will need to set-up in-house drinking water bottling systems on their premises, and follow the sanitation and hygiene practices; the water served shall conform to BIS specifications for drinking water, and the bottles must not be for sale and served free to guests.
“Our inspectors will keep checking the bottling system to see if the water being served is safe to drink,” said Agarwal.
The food and consumer affairs ministry has also asked the packaged-water industry to come up with suggestions for alternatives to plastic bottles.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Monday reiterated India’s resolve to tackle the problem of plastic waste at the 14th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at Greater Noida.