The Eat Right Initiative By FSSAI
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India started in 2018 the Eat Right award. The initiative was launched to promote in educational institutes a higher standard of:
- Food hygiene
- Food safety
- Food quality
The objective was to ensure that campuses provide food to students that is healthier to the body, safe to eat and full of nutrition that benefits the pupils. This year the very first award was announced and conferred to IIT-Gandhinagar. It is the maiden college to comply with all the requirements set by FSSAI.
The reason IITGN won the award was its philosophy to put ‘students first.’ Under the philosophy, the school gives vital attention to:
- Living conditions of the pupils
- The health of the scholars
- Safety of the students
The start of the FSSAI award was just a boost IITGN needed. Since the day the college was started, it has placed particular importance on the food catered in the hostel. It kept an eye on not just the quality but also sanitation and nutrition. Through the Eat Right award, IITGN was able to ensure that every eatery on the campus (and not merely the hostel mess) complies with the standards.
The Four Bold Measures Taken To Win The Award
IITGN took four steps to win the Eat Right award by FSSAI. The first was to make every person on the campus aware of:
- Healthy diet
- Food safety
The promotion was not limited to a healthier diet but also the amount of food that was wasted by the mess daily. By putting the amount into numbers right outside the dining hall, it created a sense of responsibility and generated awareness.
The second step was at the council level to provide healthier meals to students. Every month, the student mess council would tailor the menu so as to serve people with the fundamental nutrition required. Some examples are:
- Every food vendor and joint providing only fortified food with a +F grade. These foods are full of iron, iodine, vitamins, and folic acid. A few examples are milk, wheat flour, and double fortified salt.
- Every eatery on the campus has a valid FSSAI license by maintaining hygiene and cleanliness to the required level.
The third step incorporated food wastage and turned out to be an imperative one. It included:
- Finding a scientific way to food disposal so as not to attract insects and rodents and cause health risks. Now the kitchen waste is deposited in a biogas plant, made in-house, to produce manure.
- The used cooking oil from every food joint is collected by BioDiesel Association of India with which IITGN has not tied up.
- The Robinhood Army gathered all leftovers of the day and distributed the excess food to the needy of nearby areas.
The last measure IITGN took to achieve the Eat Right award was the promotion of local food. Every month when the menu is made, the college includes in the meals seasonal fruits and vegetables. It also endeavours to utilise locally grown material. Some examples of the vegetables and fruits the school sourced are spinach, sweet lime, beetroot, papaya, cabbage, strawberries, corn, guava, and mushrooms.
The FSSAI Award Conferred By The Union Health Minister
On World Safety Day, i.e., 7 June, IITGN was presented the Eat Right Campus Award by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare in an event held at the FDA Bhawan located in the capital of the country. It was given to Professor Sudhir K Jain, the Director of the college. A certification for the award was also conferred to two more educational institutions: LBSNAA in Mussoorie and IIT Roorkee.
With this award, the FSSAI hopes to encourage every school and college campus in the nation to make food safer and healthier. College is, for most students, the second home. It is the one place people spent the most time after home. Therefore, it stands to reason that universities and colleges should maintain standards of cleanliness in not just classrooms, bathrooms, and hostels but also in canteens, messes, and eateries. Eat Right award is a step towards this path.