INDIA – Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has said it is exploring the possibility of using next generation technological tools like blockchain and machine learning to ensure food safety and quality.

Such tools assume importance as the current pandemic situation has negatively affected many aspects of routine regulatory inspections, monitoring and surveillance at both the domestic level and border points which are indispensable for ensuring food safety and quality.

Addressing a virtual event organized by industry chamber CII, FSSAI CEO Arun Singhal urged the industry and researchers to come up with simple interventions which regulators can use.

For instance, a technique to detect the ratio of materials in a blend, a tool to prevent food fraud, real-time safety monitoring through affordable and rapid testing, among others.

He pointed out that next generation tools like genome sequencing and innovations in chemical and molecular analysis can be very useful in the area of food authenticity and integrity, not forgetting Internet of Things (IoT) which has taken a big leap forward and can be used for mounting production.

Singhal informed that the major thrust areas for the regulatory body are simplification of the regulatory regime, IT platforms, and registering as many food businesses as possible.

Currently in India, close to 5 million food businesses are registered many of which are small businesses who require intervention in terms of capacity building.

FSSAI has already trained about 500,000 food safety supervisors in various food businesses.

In addition, during the pandemic, about 260,000 persons were trained on safe food and hygiene practices required for COVID-19.

That aside, the FSSAI is gradually moving towards periodic risk-based inspections, third-party audits, focus checks and interventions to ensure safety and quality of products.

The second major thrust area of FSSAI, is to strengthen the food safety ecosystem at the state level.

FSSAI has started providing technical and financial assistance to states and union territories by creation of infrastructure and testing equipment for mobilizing resources to carry out manual special camps inspections and awareness drives.

The third major trust area is to strengthen the food testing capabilities in the country.

As of now, there are about 252 food testing laboratories notified by FSSAI and all of them are accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).

On the word of ET Retail, in the past three years, FSSAI has released about Rs 300 crore (USD 40,320,660) to various state food testing laboratories for strengthening, purchasing equipment, and setting up microbiological testing facilities