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FOOD PROCESSING

FSSAI-backed Oak Analytics bags first prize at WFI ’17 Start-up Awards
Tuesday, 07 November, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Oak Analytics has bagged the first prize in Start-up Awards, which were one of the highlights of World Food India (WFI) 2017, which was organised by the ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI) and concluded today. The analytics firm, supported an mentored by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has taken an innovative approach to improve food safety in India.

Based on the discovery by Indian scientist and Nobel laureate C V Raman, Oak combined spectral analysis with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques to move expensive laboratory testing into the field for instant molecular authentication and conducted hundreds of verification tests at FSSAI-approved laboratories and major industry partners.

This low-cost, very advanced, quick and non-invasive technology has the potential to reduce losses worth billions of dollars due to food fraud globally. It is estimated that globally, food fraud costs the global food industry between $30 and $40 billion annually.

As per a Europol Press report, in just the first four months of this year, 230 million Euro worth of fake food and beverages were seized by European authorities. Despite efforts by the government, food adulteration and food fraud are serious issues in India as well.

The current solutions to tackle food fraud rely on expensive and time-consuming laboratory testing or on ineffective packaging counter measures. Raman, the device from Oak Analytics, provides inspectors and brand owners with a foolproof and instant method of field testing products for adulteration and counterfeiting.

With a low-cost pay-per-use model, Oak Analytics aims to address the $1.2-billion rapid testing market, which is a part of the larger $12-billion food testing market.

The Start-up Awards at World Food India attracted 150 applications, of which 20 were shortlisted. The top three companies were then selected by a pool of evaluators from the food industry and investment community, based on a final pitch before a high-powered panel of experts, investors and food chief executive officers (CEOs).

The top winners also include Intello Labs for developing computer vision-based solutions for agriculture problems, and YCook for developing technology that extends the shelf life of food without any additives or preservatives.

The start-up awards were instituted by the MoFPI in collaboration with CII and Yes Bank. They were presented by Ram Nath Kovind, president of India, in the presence of Harsimrat Kaur Badal, minister of food processing industries, at a valedictory function held recently.

During the award ceremony, the president said, “One of the start-ups selected has adapted Raman Spectroscopy, the discovery of India’s Nobel Prize recipient C V Raman, into a low-cost hand-held device that can instantly detect food adulteration. This technology can save billions in food fraud.”

Aligned with the government’s Start-Up India and Digital India initiative, FSSAI is bringing together innovators and start-up entrepreneurs to provide innovative solutions and transform the country’s food economy.
As per its mandate, the country’s apex food regulator has identified six broad areas for collaboration with innovators.

FSSAI’s Innovators for Safe and Nutritious Food (I4SNF) is engaging with innovators to address key challenges in the area.

These challenges include ensuring safe food across the value chain; cheaper, rapid and anywhere food testing; availability of healthy foods; rethinking food labelling, Educating India - Eat safe, eat right and be a smart consumer and Save food, feed hungry- Waste food recovery.

FSSAI is working with around a dozen companies that includes heathify me, myupchar and fiitterfly. These startups have participated couple of months back in a conclave organized by NITI Aayog and made presentation before the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI, congratulated the Oak Team for extremely innovative and path-breaking technology to curb adulteration in the country.

He assured the start-ups all help in the food and nutrition space from a regulatory perspective.

Agarwal informed that FSSAI was considering setting up an accelerator to deepen its involvement with the start-up ecosystem in the food safety and nutrition space.
 
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