Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is all ready to present the second edition of the ‘National Eat Right Mela’. Recognizing the significance of street food culture in the country, the ‘Eat Right Mela’ is being organized along with the 11th National Street Food Festival by National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) from 26th to 29th December 2019.
This Mela will be inaugurated by the Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare on 26th December. He will address representatives from states during a workshop being organized to engage them with the ‘Eat Right India’ movement in order to scale it up at the state level.
The Minister will also launch the “Network for Scientific Co-operation for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition” (NetSCoFAN), a network of research and academic institutions working in the area of food and nutrition. This network would comprise of eight groups of institutions working in different areas as under (1) Biological Group(BIG); (2) Chemical Group(CHG); (3) Nutrition and Claims Group(NLG); (4) Foods of Animal Origin Group(FAG); (5) Food of Plant Origin Group(FPG); (6) Water and Beverages Group(WBG); (7) Food Testing Group(FTG); and (8) Safer and Sustainable Packaging Group(SPG). Each group will be led by a lead institution and selected partner institution(s) and would be responsible for carrying out the activities i.e., conduct horizon-scanning of information/data on existing and emerging food safety risks and issues in the respective areas; conduct surveys, research work & other related activities; sharing of testing facilities and instrumentation, testing protocols and so on.
The Minister will also launch ‘The PURPLE Book’ a handbook on diets for diseases. The book provides general guidelines for hospitals to on suitable diets for common medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, gut disorders and so on in a simple format and has been developed and vetted by experts in the field of food and nutrition.
This five-day Mela will provide a complete food experience to families. It is an opportunity to learn everything one needs to know about safe food and healthy diets, relish delicious street food, watch live cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs, participate in food quizzes with nutritionists and enjoy cultural performances and street theatre.
Addressing the media, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI said, “This unique collaboration with a difference has brought various stakeholders together, from the food industry to food experts to the common people. Through this mela, we want to give a unique and distinct identify to our local and street food, but at the same time, we are also offering a platform to the packaged food industry to showcase innovation in terms of newer areas like reformulation of food products, healthier food variants as well as sustainable and enhanced packaging solutions.”
Explaining about the key distinguished features of this year’s mela, he further highlighted, “This year, we are focusing on the theme of ‘Healthier Diets’ where the idea is to focus various initiatives of FSSAI around healthy eating through gamification (in an interactive manner through games and quizzes) so that citizens can relate more personally with healthier diets”. The ‘Eat Healthy’ pavilion will elaborate on the concepts of reducing consumption of High Fat, Salt and Sugar; eliminating trans-fats; increasing the consumption of fortified staples and choosing local and seasonal produce. “One such example to highlight is a game on ‘healthy food challenge’ where citizens can rank packaged foods from most to least healthy products as per their own understanding. Their results will be matched as per the set benchmarks through an analysis made available by a company who is engaged in the model of reading nutrient constitution of various packaged food products through label reading.”
Arbind Singh, National Coordinator, NASVI said, “This carnival will be an advocacy event with a difference. In this Mela, over 100 street vendors would get the opportunity to showcase their regional cuisines to thousands of visitors from various walks of life, which would boost their business. At the same time, visitors, while enjoying street food, would be able to learn about healthy eating practices from experts across the country.”
Inoshi Sharma, Director Social and Behaviour Change Division (SBCD), FSSAI mentioned, “Eat Right Mela is an effort to mainstream the key messages of the ‘Eat Right India Movement’’ - safe, healthy and sustainable diets in the lives of common people by leveraging the established and popular National Street Food Festival.”
Other interesting pavilion to be showcased during the mela is ‘Food Safety’ pavilion, primarily focusing on FSAN (Food Safety and Applied Nutrition). This will focus on demonstration of rapid food testing kits/ devices with participation from various government institutions/laboratories categorized into 4 themes i.e., milk and milk products, salt and oils, meat and fish products and cereals, pulses, fruits & vegetables and beverages namely.