Kerala has topped the annual Food Safety Index (FSI) 2022-23, pipping its immediate neighbour state, Tamil Nadu.
While Tamil Nadu finished third, Punjab stood second in the large state category, which has 20 states.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been releasing the Index since 2018-19. The aim is to create a competitive and positive change in the food safety ecosystem in the country.
As in the previous years, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya released the fourth edition of the Index on Wednesday, 7 June, World Food Safety Day.
Apart from the 20 larger states, the FSSAI classified the remaining into eight smaller states and as many Union Territories.
Dr. @mansukhmandviya and Hon'ble Union Health MoS Prof. @spsinghbaghelpr unveiled the 5th State Food Safety Index -2023 (SFSI) by FSSAI. The winners in the Large State category were Kerala, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/9iaV0ereQQ
— FSSAI (@fssaiindia) June 7, 2023
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Southern states in Food Safety Index
The Food Safety Index evaluates the performance of states and Union Territories based on five different aspects.
These include human resources and institutional data, compliance, food-testing facility, training and capacity building, and consumer empowerment.
While Kerala finished sixth last year, it scored 63 in the FSI this year, 5.5 points more than Punjab.
Proud moment as #Kerala tops the State Food Safety Index 2023 in the large state category by @fssaiindia! It comes as a deserving recognition of GoK's committed efforts in the sector, including the exemplary implementation of Safe and Nutritious Food at School.
— Pinarayi Vijayan (@pinarayivijayan) June 7, 2023
Tamil Nadu, which scored 82 in the 2022-23 FSI, ended up with 56.5 points. However, the state has been consistently finishing in the top three ever since the FSI was launched.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu were the only South Indian states on the top-10 list. Karnataka finished 12th with a score of 37, a fall from its ninth position (52.5 points) the previous year.
Telangana retained its 13th slot, scoring 32. It had 34.5 points the previous year.
Andhra Pradesh finished 16th this year, with 24 points, recording a slip of two points from its earlier 26 (15th rank).
Smaller states and UTs
Goa secured the first place for the fourth time in a row among the eight smaller states. Manipur and Sikkim grabbed the second and third slots, respectively. Last year too, these three states had the same podium finish.
Among Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, and Chandigarh finished at first, second and third spots, respectively, for the second consecutive year. For Jammu Kashmir, it was a hat-trick.
Health Minister Mandaviya honoured the winners of the Eat Right Challenge for Districts – Phase II for outstanding efforts in implementing plans to improve the food environment and raise awareness about food safety.
Of the 260 participating districts, the top six were Coimbatore, Bhopal, Varanasi, Maldah, Gwalior, and Lucknow.
As many as 31 districts achieved a score of 75 percent or higher.
100 Food Streets to be established
Mandaviya also announced that the FSSAI will train 25 lakh food business operators in the next three years to ensure that food quality standards are met across the country.
This year's World Food Safety Day's theme was 'Food Standards Save Lives', set by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Mandaviya also announced that 100 Food Streets will be set up across the country. They would meet the quality benchmark for food safety, hygiene, and nutrition. “Food quality is a part of wellness,” he added.
“We should look at our own traditions, and heritage in terms of diet, lifestyle, seasonality of food products, so that we can set our own food standards in the world,” the minister added.