As Delhiites look forward to experience delicacies from various regions at the peak of the winter season, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) presented the second edition of the ‘National Eat Right Mela.’ Recognizing the significance of street food culture in the country, the ‘Eat Right Mela’ was organized along with the 11th National Street Food Festival by National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) from 26 to 29 December from 12 pm to 10 pm at Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.
Hon’ble Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan inaugurated the mela on 26 December. He addressed representatives from states during a workshop being organized to engage them with the ‘Eat Right India’ movement to scale it up at the state level. The Hon’ble Minister also launched the “Network for Scientific Co-operation for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition” (NetSCoFAN), a network of research and academic institutions working in the area of food and nutrition.
The Hon’ble Minister launched ‘The PURPLE Book’, a handbook on diets for diseases. The book offers general guidelines for hospitals on suitable diets for common medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, gut disorders, and so on in a simple format. It has been developed and vetted by experts in the field of food and nutrition. This book will be available for free download on www.fssai.gov.in.
This five-day Mela offered a complete food experience to families. It served as an opportunity to learn everything one needs to know about safe food and healthy diets, relish delicious street food, watch live cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs, participate in food quizzes with nutritionists and enjoy cultural performances and street theatre. This Mela enabled citizens to engage in dialogue and conversations with food visionaries and experts such as celebrity Chefs Ranveer Brar and Sanjeev Kapoor, a well-known journalist and food critic Vir Sanghvi, Dr Shikha Sharma, Dr Ishi Khosla, and many other influential food personalities.
Addressing the media, Pawan Aggarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI in his opening statement, highlighted that this unique collaboration with a difference had brought various stakeholders together, from the food industry to food experts to the common people. “Through this mela, we want to give a unique and distinct identity to our local and street food, but at the same time, we are also offering a platform to the packaged food industry to showcase innovation in terms of newer areas like reformulation of food products, healthier food variants as well as sustainable and enhanced packaging solutions” he mentioned.
Explaining about the key distinguished features of this year’s Mela, he further highlighted “This year, we are focusing on the theme of ‘Healthier Diets’ where the idea is to concentrate various initiatives of FSSAI around healthy eating through gamification (in an interactive manner through games and quizzes) so that citizens can relate more personally with healthier diets.” The ‘Eat Healthy’ pavilion elaborated on the concepts of reducing consumption of high fat, salt, and sugar, eliminating trans-fats, increasing the use of fortified staples, and choosing local and seasonal produce. “One such example to highlight is a game on ‘healthy food challenge’ where citizens can rank packaged foods from most to least healthy products as per their understanding. Their results will be matched as per the set benchmarks through an analysis made available by a company which is engaged in the model of reading the nutrient constitution of various packaged food products through label reading”, he continued.
Another interesting pavilion that was showcased during the mela was the ‘Food Safety’ pavilion, primarily focusing on FSAN (Food Safety and Applied Nutrition). The focus was on demonstration of rapid food testing kits or devices with participation from various government institutions or laboratories categorized into four themes such as milk and milk products, salt and oils, meat and fish products and cereals, pulses, fruits & vegetables, and beverages namely.