FSSAI’s National Food Laboratory, Delhi NCR at Ghaziabad was inaugurated by Harsh Vardhan, union minister of Health and Family Welfare. Along with this, he also laid the foundation stone of the FSSAI Tower. Incidentally, 23rd August 2019 also marks the 13th anniversary of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. Ashwini Kumar Choubey, minister of State for Health and Family Welfare also participated in the function on this landmark occasion that was attended by over 300 partners and stakeholders from the scientific community, food businesses and corporates.
The National Food Laboratory, Delhi NCR is one of the two premier referral laboratories under the direct administrative control of FSSAI. The laboratory in Kolkata is also being upgraded. This national lab is a result of a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), the first-of-its-kind in the food laboratory sector. It houses state-of-the-art collaborative training centers, namely, The Food Safety Solution Centre (FSSC) and the Centre for Microbiological Analysis Training (C-MAT). NFL-Delhi, NCR is said to symbolize the synchronization of policy-driven partnerships and collaboration with a holistic approach and a futuristic vision. The lab claims to have a comprehensive array of equipment with the latest technologies and facilities to analyze as per global accreditation standards for testing and calibration. FSSAI will also be establishing NFLs at Mumbai and Chennai soon along the same lines, says press statement.
In the inaugural address, Harsh Vardhan remarked, “For an effective regulatory food environment, a robust food testing ecosystem is important. This is essential to evaluate the quality and safety of food, their compliance to standards and to identify any emerging risks from farm to fork”. He also congratulated FSSAI for completion of 13 years of its existence and its significant role in ensuring the health of citizens through the availability of safe food.
The FSSAI Tower, co-located at this place, has been planned to accommodate FSSAI’s growing staff numbers. The Central Government has recently created 493 new posts for FSSAI, bringing the overall strength of FSSAI to 824 now. The new facility would also host visiting faculty and trainee officers during training and conferences.
Ashwini Kumar Choubey, congratulated FSSAI in his keynote address noted, “This Public-Private-Partnership in the food testing ecosystem will synergize the efficiency of the private sector and the regulatory control of the Government efficiently. This advanced food-testing infrastructure will also help us fight any instances of food adulteration and will become more robust in the years to come.”
In the past few years, FSSAI has taken various steps to create and invest in an effective food-testing ecosystem in the country. With a robust system to recognize and notify laboratories in place, currently, there is a network of 261 food-testing laboratories, which has almost doubled from 138 in 2014, according to the press statement.
FSSAI claims to have made strategic and smart investments in outreach activities to engage and empower citizens. Pawan Agarwal chief executive officer of FSSAI highlighted, “This is a landmark occasion for FSSAI as we have commemorated the 13th anniversary of FSS Act, 2006. Over the past 7-8 years, the Authority has transformed the food safety ecosystem in the country with the support of our stakeholders. NFL Delhi, NCR is one of the most advanced laboratories in the country and is at par with any other laboratory in advanced countries like the USA. Today India can proudly boast of one of the finest networks of laboratory systems and emerging as a hub of food testing ecosystem in Asia.” He further added, “Initiatives like the Food Safety Magic Box enhance engagement and build scientific temper to unleash creative potential among students through simple and fun experiments around food. We plan to make these Magic Boxes available across health and wellness centers and are hopeful for the support of the Health Ministry.”