Street food is an intrinsic part of Indian cuisine. It represents the essence of local food culture and also drives the economy by promoting tourism. Many Indian street foods like samosa and vada pav enjoy global recognition. Our food streets are always buzzing with tourists and locals, but there are many people who avoid these foods due to health safety concerns. But this may soon be a thing of the past. As many as 100 new food streets are set to open, which will be cleaner and hygienic.
Union Health Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has requested states/UTs to develop 100 food streets in 100 districts across the country, reported ANI. This initiative is being taken up as a pilot project to create an example for other such streets to come up across the country for ensuring hygienic and safe food practices. The aim of this project is to encourage safe and healthy food practices among food businesses and community members, thus, reducing foodborne illnesses and improving overall health outcomes.
In a letter to states, Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary and Manoj Joshi, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs Secretary highlighted that “Easy access to safe and hygienic food is vital for the good health of citizens. Safe food practices not only promote “eat right campaign” and food safety but will improve hygiene credibility of local food businesses, boost local employment, tourism and in turn, economy. It also leads to a cleaner and greener environment.”
This unique initiative will be implemented through National Health Mission (NHM) in convergence with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, with technical support from FSSAI. The financial assistance for the initiative to States/UTs in the form of Rs 1 crore per food street/district will be given to fill up critical gaps, said the press release.
Municipal Corporations, Development Authorities and District Collectors at the state level will take major initiatives to ensure convergence in terms of financial resources and physical infrastructure. Various other initiatives such as training of food handlers, independent third-party audits, and certification of Eat Right Street Food Hubs ‘SOP for Modernisation of Food Streets’, have been taken to enhance food safety standards.
Schemes like “Support to Urban Street Vendors (SUSV)”, a component of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana- National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAYNULM), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs have also been taken up. In addition, States/UTs can also conduct training programmes for street vendors to orient them on aspects like food safety, maintenance of hygiene, and waste disposal.