In July this year, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) made plans to assist setting up around 350 food processing units in the next 100 days under its flagship programme called Evergreen Revolution and to invest one trillion rupees ($20 billion) by 2015 to create nearly 10 million new jobs in this sector. In the next five years, this industry is likely to treble increasing its global share to 3%. The processing units will be set up for food items like meat, diary, fruit & vegetables, grains and fish. India’s potential to garner a higher share in world food trade has also led to increasing recognition and adoption of food safety measures. The Food Safety and Quality Year 2008-09 that began last October with various integrated schemes and programmes launched by the Ministry is a take off point for this industry. The Eleventh Plan allocation for the Ministry has been increased by about six times, from Rs.650 crore in the Tenth Plan to Rs.4031 crore in the current plan. The thrust areas identified for strategic interventions in the 11th Plan primarily include establishment of mega food parks; creation of integrated cold chain infrastructure at different levels, farm level primary processing center-cum-cold chains; establishment of collection/ aggregation centres and strategic distribution centres; capacity building by setting up of National Institute of Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) and establishment/ upgradation of quality control laboratories. On an average, each unit would require cleaning equipment like scrubber driers and high pressure jets, besides, other small machines, chemicals and tools. Considering the 100-day action plan of the government, if 350 food processing units come up as scheduled, the cleaning industry would find an instant market for multiple equipment in the next three months. Some of the most popular sectors in the food processing industry at the farm level, including ice creams, jam, ketchup and spices, are looking at improving their cleaning standards and obtaining certification to join the premier league. Clean India Journal’s Mohana experienced the extremes of cold ice creams and hot spices touring some of the processing units recently.
It’s quite disheartening that in India, the general perception on standards, in terms of food security, management and cleanliness, is much lower than in the First World nations. Johnson Thomas, Clean India Journal’s special correspondent, set out to explore the varying standards of hygiene and cleanliness in a few food chain outlets. The financial capital of the country, Mumbai, expected to have the best standards, seemed like an ideal place to carry out the investigation.