‘Surkshit Khadya Abhiyan’ – Safe food for all ……….when?

At a prominent halwai (sweet seller) shop in Delhi, trays of different sweets were lined up on the counter. While on one side of the counter three service boys were struggling jalebito handle the crowd of customers, on the other side there was a swarm of the latter descending on the counter to get their order served first. Customers were aggressively shouting at the service boys with a spray of saliva falling on to the sweets lined up on the counter. In a similar way the counter boys were busy yelling out the orders they were executing – the dotted spray of saliva again targeting the sweets on the counter. Sweets on the counter were being contaminated with saliva of different individuals which could be containing virus or bacteria of contagious diseases. Nobody from either side of the counter seemed aware of the unhygienic way the sweets were being kept on the counter.

On an adjacent counter, another service boy found nothing wrong in packing sweets lifting each piece with his bare hands, the same which had used a minute ago to scratch his head and even to dig his ear. No one objected.

Seems consumers either take it casually or are unaware of the basic hygiene, something which they should have been taught at home or at least in the primary school.

It is never too late to learn — if you wish to remain healthy, eat healthy.

It is with this slogan in mind that the ‘Surakshit Khadya Abhiyan’ or Safe Food for All campaign has been launched by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) together with Consumer Voice, National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) and supported by Cargill India.

Calling on the media to create better awareness among the consumers, steering committee chairman of the ‘Abhiyan’ S. Dave said the campaign will involve all stakeholders in the food chain starting from the small level manufacturers of food articles. He said the campaign will try to train small level food manufacturers to comply with all food safety standards.

National industry partner of the campaign, Cargill India Chairman Siraj A. Chaudhry said walkathons are being organized to create food safety awareness among the people. One such walkathon was held in Delhi to propagate the message.

Arbind Singh, national coordinator, National Association of Street vendors of India hygiene 1(NASVI), said they are imparting training to food vendors on basic hygiene. Organising food festivals of street food and registration of food vendors are some of the steps to bring about better awareness among the vendors.

The first phase of the campaign will target consumers, street food vendors and food business operators in different parts of the country. Objectives of the campaign include enhancing consumer awareness on labels of packaged food products, storage conditions, disseminating hygienic practices among street food vendors, awareness on basic hygiene among school and college students and sensitizing food service providers including railways, mass catering services, street food vendors and food storage locations.

All players in the campaign seemed to concentrate on consumer awareness which is prime to improving food hygiene in the country.

Some five decades ago the municipal corporation of Delhi used to screen health hyigene 2documentaries in all parts of the walled city every month showing the dangers caused by exposed food, dirty surroundings, mosquitoes and house flies. Today there is no such action from the municipal authorities.

Can the authorities not re-launch such documentaries again for the welfare of the people?

If political parties can campaign through hundreds of buses carrying videos playing party promises, can’t the administration repeat the same for the people it earns money from?