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While discussions around food hygiene and safety has always had prominence, the ongoing Covid-19 crisis has once again thrown open and emphasized the importance of addressing the issue and heightening awareness around it. This has also highlighted the importance of global standards processed foods that are hygienically prepared, well stored and well packaged, and nutritious as well, making it the need of the hour. The government is also enhancing its initiatives for making food safety and hygienic practices the new normal from farm to fork.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in an observation on COVID-19 has stated that the importance of food safety and hygiene has never been more important as we navigate through unprecedented times. The pandemic has changed consumer perceptions about food safety and there is a new awareness and demand for food products that are not just convenient and easy to store, but are also healthy and nutritious. We will also witness more demand of technologically-driven, automated manufacturing processes for food production. Such foods, for example, include well-crafted protein rich cold-cuts, and other nutrient rich processed foods that are hygienic and definitely value-add to the meal every day and are a healthy choice for the discerning modern consumer, who nowadays is willing to pay much more for high-quality products. With growing health awareness among consumers, the result can be seen in the increasing demand of such processed foods.
The advantages of quality processed food products enables us to enjoy a varied diet that fits with the fast pace and pressures of our modern-day society. People have been travelling abroad for their holidays and are exposed to a wider, global selection of flavours and styles of foods. To meet such consumer expectations, manufacturers here are producing sophisticated processed foods that are gluten-free and comply with guideline at every stage of food production, storage and transportation. Hence, these are products that meet international quality standards and stand a class apart purely based on their flavour and quality of ingredients and are a healthy alternative for the modern consumer.
Related to the issues of food hygiene and safety is the need to ensure contactless or minimal human intervention in different phases of food production & delivery processes. Therefore, food delivery via drones could soon become a reality in India with the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) giving a nod to multiple food start-ups to start testing. The approval of drone delivery can prove to be a game-changer at a time when the world is looking for new ways of contactless delivery. Also, restaurants have strict guidelines to follow while preparing food and delivering parcels.
While the government has a major role in ensuring that all guidelines are followed with regard to food hygiene and safety, the society at large too has great responsibility in this to ensure that there is compliance with global food standards and greater power for consumers to make healthy food choices. The pandemic has also highlighted the need to establish stringent food safety systems that can respond instantly to disruptions in supply chains and ensure continued access to safe and secure food to the consumers.
This new demand for better food hygiene and increase in awareness to build immunity will definitely prompt companies to be innovative in this emerging trend to stay ahead of the curve. There are companies that have a vision to link their past, present and future aimed at creating a valued food product true to their high standards. Food safety is everyone’s responsibility and all of us must work together and devise collective strategies to ensure that the best practices are implemented in the interest of the consumers.