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Sunday, Dec 19, 2004

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`Regulatory body on food safety to be proposed in Budget session'

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The Union Minister for Food Processing Industries, Mr Subodh Kant Sahai (left), with Mr Nagaraja Rao R. Jagdale (centre), President, AIFPA, and Dr V. Prakash, Director, CFTRI, Mysore, at the `National Seminar on Global Market for Indian Processed Food Product's in Bangalore on Saturday. - K. Gopinathan

Bangalore , Dec.18

A regulatory body unifying 16 laws pertaining to food safety, hygiene and food control management will be mooted during the Budget session of the Parliament. This will be combined with formulating a new policy for the food processing industry, said Mr Subodh Kant Sahai, Union Minister for Food Processing Industries.

The regulatory body, on the lines of the Food and Drug Administration or the European Union's law on food, could eliminate confusion on standards and quality, said Mr Sahai.

Addressing the annual conference of the All-India Food Processors' Association (AIFPA) here, Mr Sahai said a vision document on the significance of the food processing industry and its role in accelerating economic growth would soon be prepared. The Minister said the country had to take an aggressive stance to increase its share in the global processed food market.

Responding to steep taxes on the processing industry, Mr Sahai said the issue would be discussed with the States to remove the imbalance between the Central and State levies.

Mr Nagaraja Rao R. Jagdale, President, AIFPA, said the processing sector was unable to sustain its business due to high taxation. The sales tax up to 23 per cent has depressed the demand due to unaffordable prices to consumers. This affects capacity building at reasonable costs.

The Karnataka Minister for Agriculture, Mr Srinivasa Gowda, said commercial research and development should be stepped up to meet the stringent international quality standards. Agriculture credit should be available at reasonable rates of below 10 per cent like in many countries against the current rate of 25 per cent.

Mr V. Prakash, Director, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, said cost effectiveness, without compromising on food safety, was key to the of strengthening the food processing industry. With phenomenal marketing ability needed to remain competitive in the post-WTO and patent regime, a long-term plan should be evolved to avoid the patent war that dogged basmati rice, turmeric and neem.

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