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FOOD SAFETY

FSSAI undertakes lab survey; Finds 62 functional state labs & shortage
Monday, 08 January, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
During a baseline survey of 72 state and public food laboratories, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) found that 62 state food testing laboratories were functional and that there was a shortage of testing facilities in the majority of state food testing labs across the country.

It was undertaken for the purposes of food safety, production and testing of food products regulated under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and Rules and Regulations, 2011.

The gap study indicated that in the state food testing laboratories, there was an urgent need to upgrade these laboratories in terms of testing infrastructure, availability of trained scientific and technical manpower for food testing and putting in place a more reliable laboratory management and operating procedure.

Accordingly, FSSAI rolled out a Central sector scheme to strengthen the food testing system in the country, including the provision of mobile food testing labs (SOFTeL) at a total outlay of Rs 481.95 crore to be implemented between 2016-17 and 2018-19.

The scheme comprises, inter alia, the following components:
  • Strengthening of about 45 state food testing laboratories;
  • Strengthening of about 12 referral food testing laboratories;
  • Establishment of about 62 mobile food testing labs, and
  • Capacity-building of food testing laboratories personnel
Under the said scheme, grant is being provided to the state and Union Territory (UT) governments and referral laboratories towards procurement of high–end equipment. So far, 23 state food testing laboratories from 22 states/UTs and five referral laboratories have been assisted.

Similarly, 19 mobile food testing laboratories (now called Food Safety on Wheels) have been provided to 17 states/UTs for training, testing and surveillance.

FSSAI has also conducted 25 training programmes in association with the government institutions, international bodies and private laboratories for lab personnel.

Further, FSSAI has notified 142 mostly private National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories- (NABL) accredited laboratories across India for purpose of primary testing to strengthen the food testing infrastructure.

This was stated by Ashwini Kumar Choubey, minister of state for health and family welfare, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi recently.
 
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