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Industry, government must collaborate to boost food safety: Tariq Anwar
Friday, 06 September, 2013, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Tariq Anwar, minister of state for food processing industries, has urged the industry, academia and government to collaborate in the larger interests of the food safety and food security in the country.

While speaking on the inauguration of a day-long summit on food safety hosted jointly by TUV SUD and ASSOCHAM here on Thursday, the minister urged for technological intervention in agriculture and food processing industry.

“Increase in production alone will not help. For sustainable growth, technological intervention is needed to secure food safety and security. We also need to look into the post-harvest management and reduction of waste alongside of quality assurance in our processed food. The Act of FSS is a step in this direction,” he said.

He added that the ministry under its aegis had constituted institutions like NIFTEM, which would help in serving the technical experts in the food industry.

While commenting on food safety, Siraj Hussain, secretary, MoFPI, however, pointed out that the registration and licensing of food business operators was a tough task and would take time and therefore the industry should voluntarily come forward to achieve the goal.

“There needs a balance between the regulating authority and the industry,” he said, while addressing the summit.

Earlier, Dr S K Saxena, director, Export Inspection Council of India, in his opening remarks has emphasised on the need for standard practices for exporting food and processed food. He informed that the risk of pesticide residue, micro toxins, GM organisms, microorganisms and so on should be minimised according to the global standards.

Commenting on the quality, the secretary-general of Quality Council of India B Venkatraman remarked that food safety should be assured to all.

Ing. Axel Stepken, chairman, board of management, TUV SUD AG; and Niranjan Nadkarni, chief executive officer, TUVSUD South Asia; also made presentation on the growing need for food safety wherein the consumers are becoming more concerned about the traceability of food. The concept of farm to fork is now getting momentum and the industries now should involve in direct conversation with the consumers, in the era of social networking.  

Key Discussion Points - Panel 1
Globalisation as seen through the food business – awareness of food safety – consumer main player, businessman, regulators

1.            The Indian food safety regulations are in line with the global standards, however, enforcement of these policies and quality standards remain a major concern for the Indian food Industry
2.            There are different ways to enforce quality standards (in the food industry) in different countries and third-party quality standard players such as TUV SUD can contribute and help countries enforce quality standards
3.            Inspection regime alone cannot ensure food security – there is a need to boost the reward mechanism for food diligence in the industry
4.            “Essence of the food security remains in the trust between the manufacturer, retailer and the consumer”

Key Discussion Points - Panel 2
Optimising Supply Chain Processes and Systems for Safer Business
1.            India already has a system in place to enable efficient supply chain management
2.            We need a more proactive approach from the industry and the government towards mitigating supply chain related issues
3.            New technological advancements are being developed to address infrastructure related issues in India
4.            There is a need to adjust our focus in the areas of current risks which is going to be an evolving process and thus regulatory framework must evolve with that
5.            Imparting knowledge and motivating partners/employees is a critical part of minimising risks related to supply chain management

Key Discussion Points - Panel 3
‘Effective implementation of new age strategy to safeguard consumer’s interest and enhance company’s reputation’
1.            Constant dialogue with stakeholders and building brand reputation in the online space will help mitigate quality and safety related issues
2.            Today’s consumer is more aware and better informed of the food security related matters and thus brands need to continue to engage and connect with their consumers directly
3.            “Brand essence is maintained by the consumers rather than the brand or the manufacturer”  
4.            Companies need to adopt a more proactive approach towards monitoring trends, listening to its consumers and responding in a timely manner to maintain its brand reputation.
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