New Delhi, January 08, 2018: For the purposes of food safety, production and testing of food products is regulated under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and Rules and Regulations made there under. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had undertaken a baseline survey of 72 State/Public Food Laboratories in 2013-14. During the survey, it was found that 62 state food testing laboratories were functional and that there was shortage of testing facilities in the majority of state food testing labs across the country. Further, the gap study indicated that in the state food testing laboratories, there is an urgent need to upgrade these laboratories both in terms of testing infrastructure, availability of trained scientific and technical manpower for food testing and putting in place a more reliable laboratory management and operating procedure. Accordingly, FSSAI has rolled out a Central Sector Scheme for ‘Strengthening of Food Testing System in the Country including Provision of Mobile Food Testing Labs’ (SOFTeL) with a total outlay of Rs. 481.95 Crore to be implemented during 2016-17 to 2018-19. The Scheme comprises , inter alia, of the following components:
- Strengthening of about 45 state food testing laboratories;
- Strengthening of about 12 referral food testing laboratories;
- Establishment of about 62 mobile food testing labs;
- Capacity Building of food testing laboratories personnel.
Under the said Scheme, grant is being provided to the State/Union Territory Governments and referral laboratories towards procurement of high–end equipments. So far, 23 state food testing laboratories from 22 States/UTs and 5 referral laboratories have been assisted. Similarly, 19 mobile food testing laboratories (now called Food Safety on Wheels) have been provided to 17 States/UTs for training, testing and surveillance. FSSAI has also conducted 25 training programmes in association with Government institutions, International bodies and Private Laboratories for lab personnel. Further, FSSAI has notified 142 mostly Private NABL accredited laboratories across India for purposes of primary testing to strengthen the food testing infrastructure.
The Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare), Sh Ashwini Kumar Choubey stated this in a written reply in the LokSabha here today.