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In FSSAI index, nearly all major states slip on food safety compared to 2019 | Business News


Four years after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) published a state-wise index to spur food safety improvement, 19 out of 20 large states — including Maharashtra, Bihar, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh — recorded a drop in their 2023 scores from 2019.

After adjusting for a new parameter included in the 2023 index, 15 out of 20 states recorded lower 2023 scores compared to 2019.

The steepest fall in scores over five years was seen in Maharashtra, which scored 45 out of 100 in 2023 compared to 74 out of 100 in 2019, followed by Bihar, which scored 20.5 in 2023 compared to 46 in 2019, and Gujarat, which scored 48.5 in 2023 compared to 73 in 2019. Ensuring food safety is the task of each state’s apex food safety authority.

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Since 2019, FSSAI has released the State Food Safety Index (SFSI) each year on June 7 on the occasion of World Food Safety Day. Over five years, the worst drop has been recorded in the ‘Food Testing Infrastructure’ parameter, where the average score for all large states dropped to 7 points out of 17 in 2023 from 13 points out of 20 in 2019. States including Maharashtra, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh all recorded lower scores for this parameter. Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, meanwhile, recorded lower scores for the ‘Compliance’ parameter.

In 2020, the average of total scores given to all large states improved marginally to 56 points out of 100 from 52 points in 2019, when the index was first published. In 2021 and 2022, however, the average score dropped to 51 points for both years. The steepest fall was observed in the 2023 index when the average score dropped to 40 points.

FSSAI did not respond to a detailed questionnaire.

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SFSI scores, which have been assigned annually to states since 2019, are given out of a total of 100 points that are calculated on the basis of five parameters with different weightages — ‘Human Resources and Institutional Data’, ‘Compliance’, ‘Food Testing Infrastructure’, ‘Training and Capacity Building’, and ‘Consumer Empowerment’.

In the 2023 index, a new parameter called ‘Improvement in SFSI Rank’ was added, which assesses improvement in each state’s rank from the year before. To accommodate for the new parameter, weightages of other parameters were reduced so that the total score does not exceed 100. When the 2023 scores are adjusted to exclude the new parameter for comparison purposes, 15 out of 20 large states record a drop in their scores from their 2019 scores. When scores from the two years are compared as it is without any adjustment, all large states record a drop in their scores with the sole exception of Punjab, which improved to 57.5 in 2023 from 47 in 2019.

The worst drop has been observed in the ‘Food Testing Infrastructure’ parameter, which was given the fourth highest weightage of 17 per cent in 2023 (20 per cent in previous years). This parameter measures availability of adequate testing infrastructure with trained personnel in each state for testing food samples. The average score for all large states for this parameter dropped to 7 points out of 17 in 2023 from 13 points out of 20 in 2019. Maharashtra’s score for this parameter dropped to 4 points out of 17 in 2023 from 17 points out of 20 in 2019. In 2023, Andhra Pradesh received a mere 1 point out of 17 compared to 11 points out of 20 in 2019. Gujarat’s score also dropped from 17 points out of 20 to 13.5 points out of 17. Both Gujarat and Kerala were the best performers in 2023 with 13.5 points out of 17 while Andhra Pradesh performed the worst.

The ‘Compliance’ parameter, which was given the highest weightage of 28 per cent in 2023 (30 per cent in previous years), measures licensing and registration of food businesses, inspections conducted, special drives and camps organised, and other such compliance-related tasks carried out by each state’s food safety authority. In 2023, Jharkhand received 4 points out of 28, the lowest score for compliance, whereas Punjab and Himachal Pradesh received 18 points each, the highest score. Compared to 2019, when Madhya Pradesh received the highest score of 26 points out of 30, in 2023 it received only 11 points out of 28.  Bihar’s compliance score dropped to 8 points out of 28 in 2023 from 20 points out of 30 in 2019. Gujarat’s compliance score dropped to 12 points out of 28 in 2023 from 21 points out of 30 in 2019. The 2023 average compliance score for all large states stood at 11 points out of 28 compared to 16 points out of 30 in 2019.

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The ‘Consumer Empowerment’ parameter, which was given the second highest weightage of 19 per cent in 2023 (20 per cent in previous years), measures a state’s performance in various consumer empowering initiatives of FSSAI including participation in Food Fortification, Eat Right Campus, BHOG (Blissful Hygienic Offering to God), Hygiene Rating of Restaurants, and Clean Street Food Hubs. Bihar’s score in this parameter dropped to 1 point out of 19 in 2023 from 7 points out of 20 in 2019. The top performer for this parameter in 2023 was Tamil Nadu with 17 points out of 19, followed by Kerala and Madhya Pradesh with 16 points each. Overall, there has been little change in this parameter in the last five years, with the average score in 2023 being 8 points out of 19 compared to 2019 when it was 7.6 points out of 20.

The ‘Human Resources and Institutional Data’ parameter, which was given the third highest weightage of 18 per cent in 2023 (20 per cent in previous years), measures availability of human resources including number of Food Safety Officers, Designated Officers, and facility of adjudications and appellate tribunals in each state. The average score for this parameter dropped to 7 points out of 18 in 2023 from 11 points out of 20 in 2019. Top performers in 2019 like Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, with each receiving 17 points out of 20, got merely 10.5 and 9.5 points respectively in 2023.

The only parameter which recorded significant improvement was ‘Training and Capacity Building’, which was given the least weightage of 8 per cent in 2023 (10 per cent in previous years). The average score for this parameter improved to 5 points out of 8 in 2023 from 3.5 points out of 10 in 2019. Finally, for the new ‘Improvement in SFSI Rank’ parameter, which carried a weightage of 10 per cent in 2023, 14 out of 20 large states received 0 points.





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