Written By - Shiza Fatima Posted on - 12 Aug'2023

FoSTaC Training of FSSAI in India: Empowering Food Safety and Standards

In recent years, initiatives like FOSTAC training have gained prominence. In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) plays a pivotal role in regulating and maintaining the safety of the food supply chain. One of the significant initiatives undertaken by the FSSAI is the Food Safety Training and Certification (FOSTAC TRAINING) program in July 2017, aimed at enhancing the knowledge and skills of food handlers and businesses in the realm of food safety and hygiene and creating efficient food safety supervisors (FSS), who are trained in good hygiene and manufacturing practices as per requirements in Schedule 4 of Food Safety and Standards Licensing and Registration Regulations, 2011.

With the aim of fulfilling the training requirements of diverse food businesses across different tiers of the food industry, a comprehensive selection of 19 courses was initially formulated, categorized into basic, advanced, and specialized levels. Subsequently, this structure was refined to encompass Basic, Advanced, and Awareness courses, comprising a total of 25 distinct modules, including an additional self-learning course. Additionally, the program retains the flexibility to introduce further courses tailored to specific sectors in response to market demands. Presently, these courses are effectively administered through an extensive network of training partners, instructors, and evaluators, and organizations like the IIEST Federation play a crucial in creating such a network.

During the initial five-year period following the commencement of FoSTaC, an impressive count of over 950,000 food safety supervisors underwent training across more than 32,000 training sessions throughout the nation. This significant surge in training capacity under FoSTaC is indicative of a burgeoning demand for such specialized instructional programs. The establishment of this extensive training infrastructure underscores the nation’s profound shift towards prioritizing food safety. Envisioned as a catalyst for cultivating a self-regulatory ethos regarding food safety practices within the food industry, FoSTaC training initiatives are poised to elevate standards and cultivate a heightened focus on food safety and hygiene across the country.

IIEST Federation under The FoSTaC program, focuses on imparting practical training to various stakeholders involved in the food industry. The program places emphasis on educating food business operators, supervisors, managers, and other personnel about the importance of adhering to food safety standards. By providing comprehensive training, IIEST Federation aims to minimize instances of foodborne illnesses, improve food handling practices, and promote a culture of food safety awareness across the country.

Objectives of FoSTaC Training:

Knowledge Dissemination: training aims to disseminate accurate and up-to-date information on food safety regulations, best practices, and guidelines to those directly involved in food handling, preparation, and distribution.

Risk Mitigation: By raising awareness about potential food safety hazards and contamination risks, the program equips participants with the necessary tools to identify and mitigate these risks effectively.

Legal Compliance: FoSTaC ensures that food businesses operate in accordance with the Food Safety and Standards Act and its regulations, thereby reducing the chances of legal violations.

Consumer Confidence: A well-trained and educated workforce contributes to the overall quality and safety of food products. This, in turn, boosts consumer confidence in the products they purchase.

Training Modules:

The FoSTaC training program encompasses a range of modules that cater to different segments of the food industry. Some of the key training modules include:

1. Basic Food Hygiene: This module covers fundamental principles of food safety, personal hygiene, cleanliness, and the importance of maintaining a sanitized food preparation environment.

2. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP): Participants learn about the practices and procedures that ensure food products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards.

3. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP): This module focuses on identifying critical control points in the food production process to prevent, reduce, or eliminate potential hazards.

4. Food Safety Management System: Participants are introduced to various food safety management systems like ISO 22000, which provide a structured approach to managing food safety.

5. Allergen Management: This module educates participants about allergens, their potential risks, and how to prevent cross-contamination.

6. Labeling and Packaging: Proper labeling and packaging are crucial for conveying accurate information to consumers. This module ensures that participants understand labeling regulations and their significance.

The FoSTaC training program has led to several positive outcomes within the Indian food industry:

Enhanced Competence: Trained food handlers are equipped with the knowledge and skills required to maintain high levels of food safety and hygiene.

Reduced Foodborne Illnesses: By promoting proper food handling practices, the program contributes to reducing the incidence of foodborne illnesses caused by contamination.

Industry Reputation: Businesses that invest in FOSTAC training demonstrate their commitment to quality and safety, thereby improving their reputation and fostering consumer trust.

Innovation and Improvement: The program encourages businesses to continuously improve their food safety practices, leading to innovation in processes and systems.

While FoSTaC has made significant strides in improving food safety practices, there are still challenges to address:

Awareness: Not all food businesses are aware of the program’s benefits and requirements, which can hinder its widespread adoption and to prevent this hindrance IIEST Federation creates awareness among the food business operators and consumers as well by continuous social campaigns and weekly blogs.

Implementation: Ensuring that the knowledge gained from training translates into actual practice can be a challenge for some businesses.

Sustainability: Continuous training and refresher courses are necessary to keep up with evolving food safety standards and practices.

To address these challenges, a multi-pronged approach is necessary, involving increased awareness campaigns, partnerships with industry associations, and more streamlined certification processes IIEST Federation is proven to make a significant impact in the industry.

Conclusion:

The FoSTaC training program introduced by the FSSAI is a commendable step towards enhancing food safety practices in India and IIEST Federation plays a crucial role in the successful conducting of FoSTaC Training, By empowering food handlers and businesses with the necessary knowledge and skills, the program contributes to a safer and healthier food supply chain. With continued efforts to increase awareness and promote participation, FoSTaC has the potential to transform the food industry, ensuring that consumers can trust the food products they consume.

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