We must be able to trace the food we eat back to its source. Traceability of food is vital to check adulteration and contamination and build consumer confidence: CSE

CSE’s webinar on traceability in food systems emphasises on the importance of knowing the source of our food (see the webinar proceedings here). 

Our food is prone to adulteration and contamination. CSE’s recent expose on the business of honey adulteration highlighted the need for robust traceability mechanisms. 

Webinar also discussed successful examples such as in the case of food that is exported, and how traceability could be adopted in other foods sold in India. 

New Delhi, February 4, 2021: Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) December 2020 expose on adulteration of honey has outlined the critical need for tracing the sources of honey – basically, where we get our honey from. “Traceability – a system wherein food can be traced back to its source -- can help address the issues of adulteration and contamination and build consumer confidence,” says Amit Khurana, programme director, food safety and toxins unit, CSE. 

To draw attention to the issue of traceability in food systems (including honey), CSE organised a webinar recently on the subject, which was addressed by some of the top experts in the field. The speakers included Tarun Bajaj, director, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA); Nachiket Udupa, manager, Organic Way of Life (a regional council for Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) of organic certification); Anil Nadig, co-founder of TraceX Technologies; and Amit Khurana from CSE. 

Launching the webinar, anchor and moderator Sunita Narain, CSE director general, said: “It is clear that apart from enforcement, we need traceability in honey. It is also time for us to have traceability systems in other foods. There are some good examples such as for food which is exported. We need to see how such systems could be set up for food which is produced and consumed in India.” 

“Traceability is inescapable and it is the need of the hour,” said Tarun Bajaj. APEDA has pioneered third-party certification of organic produce and food meant for export – primarily grapes, pomegranates, mangoes, rice, peanut/peanut products, meat and meat products, bitter gourd, curry leaf, drumsticks, brinjal, green chilli and organic products. “We have now started on honey with the National Bee Board through Block Chain Technology,” added Bajaj. 

“Organic is held at a higher standard. We should also look into traceability for conventional produce. FSSAI could see how it could be done. Also, PGS needs to be further simplified so that farmers can enter the details and access the system,” said Nachiket. 

“With traceability, consumers can also find out how credible are the claims made by brands,” pointed out Anil Nadig while talking about the role of technology platforms in traceability.   

The discussion also touched upon important aspects such as the cost of traceability, traceability for foods that are aggregated such as honey, and the importance of community participation. 

“India needs traceability in foods. It is also clear that we know how to do it. We now need to leverage it for food produced and consumed in India -- because the way we produce our food is closely linked to nature, nutrition, livelihood and biodiversity,” said Narain while concluding the session. 

For more details, please contact Sukanya Nair at
sukanya.nair@cseindia.org / 8816818864.