For all street food junkies who love lip-smacking roadside eateries but resist themselves due to hygiene concerns, can now enjoy them fully without any botheration. Through multiple initiatives, India’s food safety regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has come down hard on street food vendors to sanitize their products. Pawan Kumar Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, shares the changes underway.
Tell us about your project Clean Street Food. How will it help India tackle the hygiene issue?
Through this initiative of capacity building of food vendors, we have found a model and we can do it across the country. This will benefit the poorest section of the society and also the citizens and consumers in many ways. As a country, we are not known for good hygiene.
This initiative will help us in coming out of very crucial situation that is prevailing in the country. We are working with the Ministry of Skill Development and other tourism and hospitality partners under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana for capacity and skill building of food vendors.
How are you executing the initiative of providing safe street food?
We are planning to reach out to the small food vendors and see if they adopt basic hygiene rules. In first phase, over two lakh street food vendors in identified areas will be taken up including all metropolitan and major cities, pilgrimage and tourist centers.
There are 23,000 street food vendors in Delhi alone who are beingt rained, skilled and educated by our partners on hygiene factors. Based on the results, this will be rolled out in other places in the country.
You have recently launched a mobile app. How does it empower consumers?
It is a free app that will help consumers make informed food choices and bring to light the vendors who are operating without proper licenses and violating safety norms. The app provides food safety tips, essential information about food products and establishments and hygiene ratings for food products and outlets.
Would there be any acknowledgment for these vendors from the government?
Vendors will receive a government-recognized certificate, which will further encourage them to continue upgrading their skills and knowledge through structured training.
Are food brands and restaurants also in the frame of quality testing?
We are working on a plan to bring all restaurants in the food safety propaganda. We will partner with all food brands and restaurants in the country, train one member from each of them at FSSAI about the basic food safety and hygiene and they will be placed at these restaurants.
Hence, it will become easier for us to make sure that the food served is meeting the basic hygiene tool and the person looking after it is trained by FSSAI.
This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (April 2016 Issue).