Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Chief Executive Officer Pawan Agarwal is tasked with improving food testing facilities and working with food businesses to improve manufacturing practices and hygiene standards.
The focus will be on implementing the Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) that will cut across food businesses, whether it is the street vendor or restaurants, says Agarwal.
Efforts are on to increase the number of labs with accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), an autonomous under the Department of Science and Technology).
There are currently 98 such accredited labs in the country.
FSSAI is promoting public-private partnership models to strengthen State food safety labs by supporting them with sophisticated and expensive equipments, he adds.
FSSAI has one lab in Ghaziabad and another in Kolkata. We might set up the third lab in Mumbai, he says.
There are also ongoing efforts to increase the number of referral labs and strengthen the infrastructure, says Agarwal.
It is desirable to harmonise domestic laws with international standards, but it would not be right to set impractical standards, he says.
If the incidence of metal or pesticide residue in raw materials is high in India, businesses cannot be expected to follow international norms, he says.
In such cases, it may recommend more flexible permissible limits of metal content or pesticide residues, he adds.
If our primary food production systems have high levels of content metal content or pesticide residues, one cannot fault the food processing sector for not being able to abide by international standards, he reasons. Therefore, national standards are important, but of course attempts should be made to harmonise them to international standards as much as possible, he says.