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Integrated Policy and Coherent Actions for Transformation of the Country’s Food System: Mr Pawan Aggarwal, CEO, FSSAI

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan

Creating Sustainable Value chains for Transforming Food Systems’ by IRRI was a Multi stake-holder Panel discussion  that aimed to welcome a new paradigm on food system transformation. Speaking at the panel discussion, Mr Pawan Aggarwal CEO of FSSAI, spoke on Food Safety and the need to revisit the National Nutrition Strategy.

The two things he focused on was the evidence that malnutrition and obesity coexist and then unsafe food directly impacts nutrition. He also pointed out from the LANCET studies that established that nutrition has to be kept in mind along with eating safe. Policies and interventions needed to be brought out to bring changes in both of them. Distortion in subsidies, supply chains and value chains and MSP have driven the food choice we have today. Demand for what to eat should come from the consumers,but without that how will things improve?

In India, 47 million people are stunted, 25 million people are wasted and 196 million people suffer from hunger and 500 million suffer from vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Around 180 million are overweight, including 3 million children under the age of five years. The increase in the number of overweight are because of the less nutritious food which is available cheap ,changes in food systems as well as decrease in the physical activity.

Food safety is of prime importance these days, as the food gets laden with pesticides, but unfortunately FSSAI doesn’t look at before harvest produce. Chemicals could cause life threatening diseases. But more than chemicals what worried him most was the heavy metal contamination in vegetables by using non treated water for growing crops in peri-urban areas. Unsafe food sold by vendors could also lead to illness, said Mr Aggarwal.  

He reiterated on facts on Unsafe food by FSSAI by citing that their milk survey has shown that over 5 percent of the milk samples has Aflatoxin above M1 permissible limits. Aflatoxin, a natural food contaminant may lead to stunting and growth impairment in children, not only reducing their chances of long and productive lives, but perhaps also making them more susceptible to other illness. A recent check also shows that 50 of the Slaughter houses maintained by government in city are under maintained.

He concluded by saying that various forms of malnutrition requires an integrated policy, coherent action and total transformation of the country’s food system 

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