What are we doing to stop plastic menace?


The mission to end the plastic menace must include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 per cent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behaviour concerning plastics

The World Environment Day 2018 will be celebrated on June 5, 2018 with the theme ‘Beat plastic pollution’ with India as the global host.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently mentioned it in his radio show Mann ki baat and called for saving environment. But Mann ki baat wouldn’t yield any outcomes until it becomes Jan-jan ki baat and the citizens of India realise the drastic effects of plastic and feel the need for saving environment.
Focus has to be on mobilising the world to tackle plastic pollution, including creating support for a global effort to eliminate single-use plastics along with global regulation for the disposal of plastics. Government should make sincere efforts to educate millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing body of evidence that decomposing plastics are creating serious global problems.
As the world’s population continues to grow, so does the amount of garbage that people produce. On-the-go lifestyles require easily disposable products, such as soda cans or bottles of water, but the accumulation of these products has led to increasing amounts of plastic pollution around the world. As plastic is composed of major toxic pollutants, it has the potential to cause great harm to the air, water and land.
Put simply, plastic pollution is when plastic has gathered in an area and has begun to negatively impact the natural environment and create problems for plants, wildlife and even human population. Often this includes killing plant life and posing dangers to local animals. Plastic is an incredibly useful material, but it is also made from toxic compounds known to cause illness, and because it is meant for durability, it is not biodegradable.
It costs millions of dollars each year to clean affected areas after exposure, not to mention the loss of life to plants, animals, and people. As land becomes more valuable, just finding a place to dump the garbage is becoming a problem in many parts of the world. Plus, excess pollution has lead to decreased tourism in affected areas, significantly impacting those economies.
From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival. The mission to end the plastic menace must include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 per cent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behaviour concerning plastics.
Merely talking on this hazard won’t yield results. There has to be a campaign with following focus areas:
Leading a grassroots movement to support the adoption of a global framework to regulate plastic pollution.
Educating, mobilising and activating citizens across the globe to demand that governments and corporations control and clean up plastic pollution.
Educating people worldwide to take personal responsibility for plastic pollution by choosing to reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics.
Promoting local government regulatory and other efforts to tackle plastic pollution.
What can be done by citizens?
Although the government’s job is to spread awareness, let’s not expect everything from it. We all have to change our attitude and act responsibly to put an end to our problems. Plastic bags were once a modern convenience but can be efficiently replaced by reusable bags, many of which fold up compactly in order to be portable. Disposable water bottles are causing immense damage to environment; it’s time to replace them with re-usable bottles. Plastic food containers, lids, and utensils are all easily replaced by reusable containers, which will cut down significantly on even a single meal’s waste. Low-cost replacements, such as bamboo utensils in place of plastic ones in local restaurants need to be promoted. We all can try and select items that come in non-plastic recycled and recyclable packaging, to do our best to properly handle items that can’t be reused.
We owe our existence to mother Earth and it’s our duty to save and protect earth. India can be a better country, if we all become better Indians.


FSSAI launches Orange Book for corporate companies

It is a known fact that employees today spend a majority of their time at their workplace – around 67% of their total time. Employees consume at least one meal during working hours, which if not safe, can cause several health issues. Aggravated issues in the form of an outbreak of food borne diseases, leads to employee absenteeism and low productivity at the workplace – this has grown in the recent days.
To curb these problems at the Corporate level itself, ‘The Orange Book’ is crafted under the SNF portal. ‘Safe and Nutritious Food at Workplace’ is a nationwide campaign to help people eat safe and eat right while at work. The document is the key resource book for this campaign, which includes aspects that shall enable safe food practices at the workplace and ensure employee well-being.
FSSAI officially launched ‘The Orange Book’ on 15th May, 2018 in the presence of the Panel Experts and its co-authors, with the CEO, Mr. Pawan Agarwal doing the honours. Joining him was Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO – NITI Aayog who inaugurated the ‘Experience Zone’ – a one-of-a-kind concept that oversees Indian Food Ecosystem. It uses technology like Virtual and Augmented Reality to observe the journey of Food Safety Regulations over the course of time, how Food safety is a shared responsibility of all Food stakeholders and the incorporation of children in the training on FSSAI Regulations.
The Orange Book is divided into three sections. The first section [Framework for an Enabling Environment] is meant for Facility Managers /Administration. This includes measures and policies to be undertaken in a Corporate premise to ensure food safety and nutrition for everyone in the workplace. It emphasizes on at least one Food Safety Supervisor [FSS] for 25 food handlers. The FSS is in charge of the hygiene and sanitary practices at workplace. Also, the person is responsible for timely tests, audits, Food Safety strategies and regular training of the Caterers, Food Handlers and Employees.
Health and Wellness Coordinator (HWC) is another innovative concept by FSSAI under SNF, appointed to promote safe and nutritious food among the employees. The person appointed has to devise strategies and promote healthy food choices over junk food, contributing to the wellness of the employees.
The second Section [Regulatory and Compliance Requirements] is for the canteen / cafeteria establishment. It specifies best practices and guidelines recommended for the canteen establishments to ensure that the food served in the workplace, whether prepared in-house or catered from outside, is safe and wholesome. A valid license/registration, following legal requirements and Good Hygiene / Manufacturing Practices is a must in the corporate canteens.
The third section [Safety and Nutritious Food Tips] is for the employees. It provides important dos and don’ts, useful nutrition and health tips and suggestions to empower employees to eat and stay healthy in the workplace. This can be done by making informed choices about the food they consume. It also helps to decode food labels, the concept of the food pyramid, and tips on home lunch and what it should contain.
The book as a whole gives a complete information as to how corporate entities can achieve healthy and stable lifestyle at workplace resulting in employee satisfaction. The book is a Gospel of Truth to all the corporates aiming for higher productivity.
Equinox Labs has taken the responsibility of creating awareness on The Orange Book and its infinite advantages. Ashwin Bhadri, Chief Executive Officer – Equinox Labs and the co-author of the document, has contributed immensely considering the imperativeness of healthy employees to the growth of the company.

To ensure Safe & Nutritious food becomes a part of everyone’s daily life, FSSAI has developed guidelines for healthy and hygienic eating at the work place – The Orange Book!

To get your copy of the Orange Book, visit http://www.fssai.gov.in/dam/jcr:928d26f5-a245-44fd-b58b-bc7e13f27f6f/Orange_Book_15_05_2018.pdf 

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View image on Twitter

FSSAI Begins ‘Safe And Nutritious Food At Workplace’ Initiative Throughout India

According to the report by F&B News, continuing its campaign for safe and nutritious food consumption at homes and schools, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched a countrywide follow-up initiative. This new initiative, ‘Safe and Nutritious Food-SNF@Workplace’ will now focus on food habits at workplaces.
“Since our workforce consumes at least one meal during working hours, behavioural changes at the workplace is critical. And, therefore, a resource book for this initiative, titled The Orange Book, has also been launched. It highlights the role of stakeholders, like administration, canteen, etc.,” stated Agarwal.
“Further, to create a self-propelling and sustainable ecosystem, the regulator has enabled a systematic framework of FSSAI-trained resource persons, health and wellness coordinators and food safety supervisors for every workplace. And a portal, www.snfportal.in/workforce, has also been launched, where interested workplaces can join the movement and access resources, information and links,” he added.
FSSAI also plans to extend this plan to holy places as well. The regulator also plans to reward workplaces who encourage healthy eating. Further, it plans to go beyond the regular canteen and cafeterias and look at development of systematic health ecosystems at workplaces says the report.
“The evaluation criteria would, therefore, include canteen/cafeteria practices and also the system in place to promote health and wellness. The matrix would cover regulatory and voluntary initiatives like ensuring licensed vendors for the kitchen/canteen/caterer, personal hygiene of food handlers and safe food practices as per food safety management service guidelines, display of food safety display boards in kitchens/canteens, having a trained and certified food safety supervisor, etc. There is also a provision for the auditing of the workplaces,” added Agarwal.

The FSSAI Experience Zone – A Walkthrough of India’s Food Safety Ecosystem

Dog and carcass meat fear: sale of non-veg cuisine halved in Kolkata eateries


Dog and carcass meat fear has halved the sale of non-vegetarian cuisine — mutton, chicken and pork dishes — across restaurants in Kolkata and its surrounding areas. Consequently the Hotel and Restaurants’ Association of Eastern India (HRAEI) has issued an urgent advisory on Monday to its members asking them to stick to buying meat only from registered suppliers.

The customer switched to fish and prawn, and even vegetarian dishes this weekend. ‘People are reacting to “rumours” about carcass meat having made its way to city eateries from dumpyards near Kolkata’ HRAEI members said.

Meanwhile 20 ton carcass meat has been seized from Kolkata. Shaikh Shamim a biryani joint owner in South Kolkata said he has suffered more than 60 per cent drop in sales. “On any normal day, we would procure 25-30 kg of meat. But, after the carcass rumour, the procurement has dropped to just 8 kg a day. It is a big setback,” owner Sheikh Shamim said.

Police also raided a whole sale chicken shop where it found diseased chicken besides rotten chicken.

Chocolate production may be harming environs

GM food products : How India Imports Violating Food Safety Laws

Violating laws governing food safety in India, the central government has over the last five years allowed more than 15 million tonnes of genetically modified soyabean and canola oils to be imported into the country for human consumption.

That such imports were illegal came to light with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s submissions before the Supreme Court in response to an environmentalist, Aruna Rodrigues, asking for imports to be banned or for genetically modified products to be clearly labelled. Based on the food safety authority’s submissions, the court on August 11 accepted that imports of GM food continue to be banned.

Genetically modified crops, or GM crops as they are commonly known, are cultivated from seeds that are genetically altered to increase yields or tolerance to pests. Supporters say GM crops are essential to boost food production to meet the demands of the planet’s ever-expanding population. But in India and many other parts of the world, there is a debate about whether GM crops are safe for human consumption. Some scientists also fear that biodiversity will be threatened if genetic material from GM crops get mixed in with non-GM crops.

Many countries, including European Union nations, Australia and China, have strict regulations requiring GM foods to be clearly labelled so that consumers can make informed choices about whether to eat them.

Permission declined

In 2010, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government declined permission for the first home-grown GM food variety, Bt brinjal, to be cultivated. Since then, seed producers have urged the government to allow GM mustard to be cultivated. But the government is yet to take a final call on this. Already, the Supreme Court is hearing another case byRodrigues, urging a better regulatory regime and stricter tests for GM crops.

But even as the debate about cultivating GM crops in India continues, the government has been bringing in processed oil made from GM crops: GM soyabean oil has been imported for the past decade and canola for at least three years.

In an email interview to Scroll.in, the chief executive officer of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India agreed that GM food is not permitted to be sold in India because these products do not have approval under the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006. But, Pawan Kumar Agarwal argued, the authority could not regulate or prohibit the sale of imported soya and canola oils because it is technologically incapable of detecting the GM protein in them.

When vegetable edible oils are processed, the levels of proteins in them are reduced to negligible levels, he said. “Hence the GM component cannot be detected in refined vegetable oil,” he contended.

In India and many other parts of the world, there is a debate about whether GM crops are safe for human consumption. Photo credit: Reuters
In India and many other parts of the world, there is a debate about whether GM crops are safe for human consumption. Photo credit: Reuters

Imports of GM food need to be approved under two separate laws. A clearance is needed from the Union environment, forest and climate change ministry under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, which is charged with assessing the impact of GM products on biodiversity. Clearance is also needed from the Union health and family welfare ministry, which must explicitly endorse that these products are safe for human consumption under the Food Safety and Standards Act.

Importers have received the first clearance but they have operated for years without the second, the food safety authority has said.

The food safety authority’s claim that it is unable to detect genetically modified content in oils does not hold ground. There is a profusion of scientific literature on detecting genetically modified material in processed soya and canola oils. But even if the authority’s argument is accepted, these oils are still not legally exempted from the existing prohibitions on GM food.

Giving permissions for GM foods to be imported under the Food Safety and Standards Act would have required the government to first put into place a testing and labeling regime for such items. More than 60 countries in the world label all packaged food that contains or is made from GM organisms. India is yet to finalise the rules to do so.

The commerce ministry, which regulates imports in India, did not respond to queries emailed by Scroll.in.

Mandatory clearances

Importers have got away without having the mandatory approval under the Food Safety and Standards Act because the two ministries passed the buck from one to the other, government records show.

Under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, the environment ministry’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee is entrusted with granting approvals of “activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms”, recombinants – cells with a new combination of genes not found together in either parent cell – “and industrial production from the environmental angle”. The law prohibits the import, sale or use of GM food products without the committee’s approval.

With the passage of the Food Safety and Standards Act in 2006, the environment ministry and the health ministry each began to claim that the other was responsible for clearing imports of food containing GM material. The debate was never settled legally. Eventually, in 2007, the environment ministry began to give clearances for imports, even though it acknowledged that permission was also required under the food safety law before imports could begin. The food safety authority neither put the regulations for such approvals in place nor acted actively to stop the imports.

Regulatory vacuum

After a decade of allowing the import of GM foods, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, at a meeting on April 12, 2017, took note of the regulatory vacuum on the import of GM food and decided to discuss this with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.

“In order to give informed choice to the consumers, FSSAI has decided to have the labelling norms for genetically modified food products,” the authority told Scroll.in. A specific date for notifying the labelling laws has not been announced. “Under these norms it is proposed to put the GM labelling on any product which contains the GM component beyond a certain threshold level. Once notified, these norms and regulations would enable FSSAI to initiate action against the food and beverage operators that import Food products containing GM ingredients.”

The authority did not respond to the question why it did not instruct the commerce ministry to stop imports of GM food in the absence of testing and labeling regulations, as required by the law.

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