In conversation with Dr. Hemant g.koshia, commissioner of food safety, food, and drugs control administration, the government of Gujarat Gandhinagar who has been holding the post since 2010. He is a member of a center advisory committee for food at food safety and stander authority of India, New Delhi. He is an active member of the food ingredients expert committee at the united States pharmacopeia convention, use dr. koshia persuaded his graduation, post-graduation, and a doctorate in pharmacy and is activity representing nine national & state level committees like drugs consultative committee, govt of India, New Delhi, pharmaceutical advisory forum, dept of pharmaceuticals, govt. Of India, New Delhi.
You have been at the helm of the food safety, department for almost a decade now. Tell us the present in Gujarat and what all has changed over the year.
The food and safety department was formed in 1979. Since then the food act has been implemented but initially, it was the prevention of food adulteration act. Since 2011. A new act has been rolled out –food safety and standards act 2006 followed by a lot of regulations that have to be completed with. So the preset compliance is beyond just food adulteration. Retail food export, manufacturing of food product, gm food, weights and measures even packaging and delivery of food is being regulated now.
While punitive actions and law enforcement have always been a year has taken a shift towards education stakeholders about the benefits of hygiene the emphasis is also on SNF-safe and nutrition food.
The entire gamut of food is divided into 20 categories and everything related to food like manufacturing, storage, retail, and street vendors, restaurants and hotels along with temple Prasad is monitored under the act. All these stakeholding are, now being licensed and registered. Right now we have issued about 2lckhs licenses, and registrations, and the drive-in on.
Some major changes in the food industry have been the way in which food is displayed today at shops, use of alloys replacing iron vessels, packaging of items, use of disposable and alternate food products like refined oils, instant cooking product, etc. human intervention in the manufacturing process is being reduced with automated systems.
Tell us something about the activities initiated by your department and the success had so far.
Since food industry is a major source of income for thousands of people in the state, the department one upliftment of quality of food sold by small food vendors a major activity of significance has been training of street vendors at mane chow and law garden the department has continuously monitored and trained the vendors at these two places and the results have been excellent. Not only did the drive resulted in tasty safe and hygienic food but it also resulted in increased income for food vendors.
One of the proudest moments of the department will come soon when KANAKARIA street (having 66 vendors) with being declared as the first ‘clean street food hub of India’ final third party audit is underway.
Today Gujarat stands tall in food safety measure and the entire nation and many state governments are following the training programs for vendors that we have developed. Another special focus is a unique project under which the theca department has undertaken a drive to improve the safety and quality of temple Prasad being produced Prasad being produced and delivered.
Apart from special drives how is department gearing up for its day to day functioning?
Apart from such special drive, we have regular seasonal drives in line with seasonal consumption of food important being those on adulteration sensitive products like spices, milk, mango juice, groundnut oil and many more. As the water is a major vector during monsoon special care is needed with regards to maintaining the quality of water used for cooking and drinking.
Scientific research enables the introduction of new regulations from time to time. One example is the recent norm laid out on levels of TPG (total polarized compound value in frying edible oil which cannot exceed by 25% so we have introduced a new instrument that can immediately measure TPG.
We have developed a kit that can be used to test the sample for much adulteration and does not require the sample to go for lab tats. We have fully equipped mobile vans that can undergo spot field tests of samples. ‘Food safety on a wheel’ has given us a technological edge in monitoring food safety standards in Gujarat.