In recent years, India has witnessed increasing commercialisation of agriculture and amalgamation of domestic markets into global food and agri-business systems. Still, on parallel, there had been raising food safety issues in the country. India is not only one of the world’s largest producers of food products but also provides a huge market for its consumption. It contributes to the economy’s development at the national and global levels. On the contrary, India’s capability to supply safe food to recuperate its growth in agriculture is a salient concern that needs immediate address.
Centre’s Role In Food Safety Regulations
The central government has enforced various guidelines and regulations to meet the food safety regulations. The nutrition and safe food objectives are the most important as an unsafe food supply leads to a greater incidence of foodborne diseases and economic healthcare burden, leading to a decrease in productivity of the community.
Until recent years, the efficacy of the food control system in the Indian market was found to be destabilised by the subsistence of numerous authorities and lack of monitoring and enforcement. The Indian food laws were enacted under different ministries in India possessing varied specifications, and this bewildering environment was insufficient to enforce rules and regulations in the food processing industry. That is why there was a persistence of inadequate food safety and quality systems in India endangering consumers’ health.
In 2006, the Government of India enacted the Food Safety and Standards Act (2006) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that integrated the existing food laws and introduced a single statute under an apex regulatory authority known as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). This initiative by the government paved the way for enhanced better food safety and quality control based on scientific standards.
One-Stop For All Vegetarians
In the purview of this act, Abhishek Biswas, a Pune based entrepreneur, started the Sattvik Council of India, the world’s first vegetarian food safety and regulatory compliance for vegetarian and allied adherents. On the lines of certification preferred by the followers of different communities such as ‘halal’ for Islam and ‘Kosher’ by the Jews, this is the first of its kind global-level certification that will be a one-stop for all vegetarians across the globe. It offers four kinds of certifications: ‘Sattvik Sattvam’, ‘Sattvik Vegetarian’, ‘Sattvik Vegan’ and ‘Sattvik Jain’.
It is the world’s first and pioneering vegetarian food and lifestyle standard development organisation established to promote the certification of vegetarian food. It ensures the creation of a ‘vegetarian environment’ for consumers across the globe. With the requirement for the new SOP’s and standards in the food supply chain, Sattvik Mark guarantees the trust and belief for 100 per cent vegetarian and vegan products.
It aims to meet the consumers’ expectations by providing a safe food supply as per the essential quality, safety standards and requirements of food hygiene, labelling and certification, use of food additives, limits for pesticide residues, etc. “We target not only the food manufacturing and processing industries but also micro, medium and small scale industries which are facing innumerable challenges for their survival in the mainstream market. Sattvik Council aims at serving as an incubator for these industries,” Abhishek Biswas, founder of the Sattvik Council of India, told The Logical Indian.
Biswas said that there are no global binding definitions of the terms like vegan and vegetarian standards. “For example, the term ‘vegans’ covered only those that avoided meat, eggs and dairy. In most countries, the term ‘vegan’ covers those who also abstain from animal-based clothing and foodstuffs such as honey,” he said.
No Hidden Non-Vegan Substances
The entrepreneur stressed that there were no accepted definitions for these terms for certification purposes that can be used to label vegetarian and vegan products. However, Sattvik Council created standards that bind all these definitions together in permutation and combination. Bureau Veritas (Global Audit Partner) adopted the Sattvik mark to assure consumers of the authenticity of vegan or vegetarian products that created the “Sattvik/Vegetarian Certification Scheme”.
The Sattvik mark is a symbol of quality that can be used on vegan or vegetarian food that meets scheme requirements. It provides transparent assurance that products do not contain hidden non-vegan or non-vegetarian substances.
“We aim to restructure more efficient standard operating procedures for various systems that are cost-efficient, ensure safe food supply, and environment friendly. For effective implementation and enforcement of the procedures, we believe in continuous monitoring and evaluation procedures followed by mandatory record-keeping so that appropriate corrective action can be introduced in the system, as and when required,” Biswas said.
Sattvik Council focuses on the education and training of the personnel for establishing robust food safety and quality system. The certification procedure by the Council would reinforce the consumers’ assurance and confidence in the food supply system by making a positive impact on the current food processing techniques.
“It has been a difficult yet lovely journey. Creating something which has never existed is challenging but essential for social evolution. After the rise of zoonotic diseases, people are looking out for faith and assurance in their environment, which only the Sattvik certification can provide,” the SCI founder said.
Vegetarian Environment By 2025
“Due to the hard work and persistence of the SCI team, I believe we would be able to create a vegetarian environment by 2025 around the world,” he added.
Biswas said that the Council aims to generate one lakh certified skilled resources in India in food safety and vegetarian/vegan compliance by 2025. “Soon, the students can opt “Sattvik Quality Management Course” from the Shri Vishwakarma Skill University in association with us.
It is one of the goals, apart from certification licensing for the worldwide market. We aim to certify approximately 1 million establishments by 2025, including kitchens, hotels, products and textiles,” he added.
To encourage and support vegetarian-friendly railway services, SCI recently provided vegetarian certification to Shri Ramayan Yatra and will soon certify Vande Bharat in association with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Cooperation (IRCTC).