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Current Affairs for today- 26th November 2019

November 26 2019 GS Paper III 3.7% food samples unsafe, 15.8% sub-standard Context The data recently released by the Food Safety and...

Manasa Sastry Written by Manasa Sastry · 7 min read >

November 26 2019

GS Paper III

3.7% food samples unsafe, 15.8% sub-standard

Context

The data recently released by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on enforcement of norms has noted that 3.7% of the samples collected and analysed were found unsafe, 15.8% sub-standard and 9% samples had labelling defects.

  • The data for 2018-19, with 1,06,459 samples analysed, the food regulating authority stated that this was the first year that the levels of unsafe, sub-standard and labeling defects were compiled in the data separately. This assembly of data would help the authorities to take precise corrective and preventative actions. There should be zero tolerance to unsafe food, but sub-standard and labelling defects require greater efforts on capacity building of the businesses and standards, as well as labelling requirements.
  • Compared to the analysis of 2017-18, there is a 7% increase in the number of samples analysed.  Compared to the previous year, 25% more samples were found non-conforming. This shows that there has been better targeting of enforcement efforts by States/UTs.

Statistics that was released by the report says;

  1. Tamil Nadu was the worst-performing State in terms of ‘unsafe food’ and ‘labeling defects’ comprising of 12.7% and 18.5% respectively.
  2. Nagaland had the most ‘sub-standard’ products standing at 86.6% followed by U.P and Rajasthan at 35% and 22% respectively.
  3. There has been a 36% increase in civil cases launched and a 67% increase in the number of cases where penalties were imposed.
  4. Ten States including Uttarakhand, Goa, Bihar, Sikkim, Gujarat and Telangana have performed well.
  5. The non-performing States have poorly implemented the deployment of on-duty full-time officers and lack in proper testing laboratories.

What is FSSAI?

  • FSSAI is an autonomous body under the administrative head of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • It was established under Foods Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act).
  • Responsibility: To protect and promote public health through regulation and supervision of food safety.
  • Headquarters of FSSAI: Delhi

Regional offices: Kolkata, Guwahati, Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin and Chennai.

  • Objective: FSSAI has been created for laying down science-based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

Importance:

  • Maintaining the food quality levels in order to ensure safety and providing satisfaction to every consumer is the aim of every Food Business Operator. This makes sure every customer receives an equal level of assurance of food safety.
  • Various central Acts like Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954; Fruit Products Order, 1955; Meat Food Products Order, 1973; Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947; Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order 1988; Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992 etc. were repealed after commencement of FSS Act, 2006.
  • The Act also aims to establish a single reference point and line of command and ignore the previous regime of multi-level departmental control and established as independent (autonomous) Statutory Authority– the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.
  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the State Food Safety Authorities (provided for every State) shall enforce various provisions of the Act.
  • The Chairperson to the FSSAI is of the rank of Secretary to Government of India and will be appointed by the Central Government.

Functions of FSSAI

  • Framing of Regulations to lay down the Standards and guidelines in relation to articles of food and specifying appropriate system of enforcing various standards thus notified.
  • Laying down mechanisms and guidelines for accreditation of certification bodies engaged in certification of food safety management system for food businesses.
  • Laying down procedure and guidelines for accreditation of laboratories and notification of the accredited laboratories.
  • To provide scientific advice and technical support to Central Government and State Governments in the matters of framing the policy and rules in areas which have a direct or indirect bearing of food safety and nutrition.
  • Collect and collate data regarding food consumption, incidence and prevalence of biological risk, contaminants in food, residues of various and contaminants in foods products, identification of emerging risks and introduction of rapid alert system.
  • Creating an information network across the country so that the public, consumers, Panchayats etc. receive rapid, reliable and objective information about food safety and issues of concern.
  • Provide training programmes for persons who are involved or intend to get involved in food businesses.
  • Contribute to the development of international technical standards for food, sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards.
  • Promote general awareness about food safety and food standards.

Initiatives by FSSAI

  • Heart Attack Rewind: Heart Attack Rewind is an initiative by FSSAI to eliminate trans-fat from India by the year 2022. This initiative was campaigned across India.
  • FSSAI- CHIFSS: It being a collaboration between FSSAI and CII-HUL, it aims to promote collaborations between Industry, Scientific Community, and Academia for food safety.
  • Swasth Bharat Yatra:  It is a pan-India movement called ‘Eat Right India’, which was aimed to create consumer awareness about eating safe and nutritious food.

Way forward

  • There must be no dearth for Food consultants and must regularly be appointed to ensure safety levels.
  • The food consultants should conduct audits to check whether the food industry is complying with the food standards or not.
  • FSSAI should also bring the manufacturers under the responsibility of imposing food safety. The focus should be on covering each person in supply chain for assessment of food manufacturing, storing and distribution.
  • There must be interactive sessions and awareness programmes with the consumers at large to ensure that they are self-aware of the safety standards of the food they consume.
  • It must enhance the current regime of regulation of FSSAI by providing regulations to provide guidance to Food Business Organisations (FBO).
  • FSSAI and the state food authorities should conduct surveys of food business activity under their jurisdiction to ensure a comprehensive and reliable database of FBOs.
  • With the recommendation of CAG, the framing of standard operating procedures on the formulation and the review of standards will ensure better enforcement and administration of the FSS Act.
  • Increasing limits of compensation and fine in cases of injury or death and providing adequate infrastructure such as food testing laboratories.

GS Paper II

Helping 10-year-olds to read by 2030 (EDITORIAL)

Context

The author’s (the President of the World Bank Group) concern is expressed in this editorial about the inability among more than half of the ten-year-olds in low and middle-income countries to read and understand a simple story. In the middle of a global learning crisis that stifles half the mid-size economies of the world with the opportunities and aspirations of millions of children perturbed, the World Bank Group has released new data to set new learning target by 2030 to cut by at least half the global level of learning poverty.

The author opines..

  1. Learning to read is an important asset, especially as a critical skill. It helps one to build on the foundation on which the other essential learning is built, like science and numeracy.
  2. The basic ability to read becomes a key to eliminate learning poverty and boost shared prosperity to help the children reach their full potential.
  3. According to the data compiled over the past years, the progress in reducing learning ability remains stagnant. Globally, between 2000 and 2017, there has been only a 10% progress in learning outcomes for primary school-aged children. This is not a good sign as, with this pace, 43% of ten-year-olds will not be able to read in 2030.
  4. It is of urgent need now as the children who will turn 10 in 2030 will be born next year and all the countries worldwide must galvanize action towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) – ensuring quality education for all by tripling the rate of progress made so far.
  5. The author compliments India regarding the Right to Education Act that has been successful in increasing coverage and access to school education, but iterates that we need to shift focus to quality.
  6. India’s choice to join the Programme for International Student Assessment and the merger of Schemes under Samagra Shiksha are positive signs.
  7. We must take examples from other countries like Vietnam that offers a curriculum that ensures that the basics are covered to foster deep learning of fundamental skills and provide all children with reading materials.
  8. We need to first ensure that all the children in all the countries are made available with access to basic education. While there are other cases where children are in classrooms but are not in the cycle of learning.

Need of the hour

  1. By working with the World Bank, the countries can set a global target in co-ordination to benchmark their own national learning targets to reduce and cut down the learning poverty to zero.
  2. World Bank aims to increase and promote reading proficiency in primary schools.
  3. There must be establishment of policies to provide detailed guidance and practical training for teachers, smart-classes, access to age-appropriate texts and teaching children in the language they speak at home.
  4. Advancements in literacy with improved education systems that keep the children on their feet to learn and gain basic critical-foundation skills.
  5. Well-equipped space for learning, e-learning technologies, all-inclusive school systems that are safe and conducive to learning must be the priority call.

SDG 4: Quality education: It acts as a fundamental need for sustainable development. It aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning experiences and opportunities for all. As a policy intervention, education is a force multiplier which enables self-reliance, boosts economic growth by enhancing skills, and improves people’s lives by opening up opportunities for better livelihoods. It identifies itself as the global monitoring initiative of education.

It must guarantee equal access to opportunities for access to quality technical and vocational education for everyone. Policy interventions will require improving access and improving quality, as well addressing relevant obstacles which include gender inequalities, food insecurity, and armed conflict.

Targets set by the UN for 2030

  • Ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.
  • Ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.
  • Ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.
  • Substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.
  • Eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.
  • Ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.
  • Ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.
  • Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
  • Substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular, least developed countries, small island developing states and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries.
  • Substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international co‑operation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states.

Conclusion

The learning crisis not only wastes the children’s potential, but it hurts the future of the economies. It will negatively impact workforces and their economic competitiveness as the World Bank’s Human Capital Index shows; that, globally, the productivity of the average child born today is expected to be only 56% of what it would be if countries invested enough in health and education. Hence, our priority must be fixed on educating every child to help him/her be self-reliant in this highly evolving world that is progressing fast towards the higher rungs of retaining talent, knowledge pool and global competition.

Written by Manasa Sastry
Masters degree holder in Forensic Science. Currently, a UPSC Aspirant helping fellow learners to sort their daily current affairs preparation. Loves to learn and help others. Music, dance and art are just a few of my many hobbies. Profile

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