60 views 4 mins 0 Comment

Kerala to launch campaign for making it a safe food destination

With a spate of food poisoning cases putting Kerala in a bad light on the domestic and international tourism map, the government has decided to launch a campaign.

Thiruvananthapuram, January 28, (BPNS)

With a spate of food poisoning cases putting Kerala in a bad light on the domestic and international tourism map, the government has decided to launch a campaign. The ‘Kerala – Safe Food Place’ campaign to be launched on February 1 will focus on ensuring food safety, hygiene, and quality at food processing units. Health minister Veena George said that as part of the campaign food safety inspections will be conducted across the state and health inspectors will also be roped in.

“In addition to the food safety officials, health inspectors will also conduct inspections at food processing units. The latter will be asked to ensure hygiene and health cards. A guideline will soon be issued for the same. No units will be allowed to operate if its employees didn’t have a health card,” said Veena.

Under the health department, there are 883 health inspectors, 176 health supervisors, and 3626 junior health inspectors. There are also 160 food safety officials. According to Veena, with their help, more inspections could be carried out at food processing units.

Ironically, in 2016, the Confederation of Indian Industry had floated an idea to transform Kerala into a safe food destination with the help of the food safety department. TV Anupama, the then State Food Safety Commissioner, had stated that such a campaign will be a success in Kerala, where the demand for safe and standardized food products is more from the consumers.

Other initiatives

It was on the other day that the state made health cards mandatory for employees working in food processing units. It was also mandated that those units which were closed down over issues like being unhygienic will have to register for hygiene rating within a month from its opening. The employees of those units which were closed down by the officials during their inspection will also have to undergo training in food safety (FOSTAC), which will have to be completed within two weeks.

For a health card, an employee will have to present before a registered medical examiner. There the examiner will check whether an employee has any infectious or communicable diseases. For that physical examination followed by an eye test, skin examination, compliance with the schedule of the vaccine against an enteric group of diseases, and any test required to confirm any communicable or infectious disease will be carried out.

The state government had also constituted a special task force (intelligence) headed by an officer in the rank of deputy commissioner of food safety to investigate food poisoning incidents and their follow-up, check adulteration, identify those units that operate without a license, and others. The task force will directly report to the State Food Safety Commissioner.

Earlier, the division bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly, had directed the state health secretary to file a detailed report regarding numerous food poisoning incidents that occurred in the state and the steps taken against the same. The court is expected to consider the matter again on February 2