The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked state food safety commissioners to ensure food business operators supplying mid-day meals to schools should have an FSSAI registration license. This comes amidst reports of rising cases of food poisoning seen among children after consumption of mid-day meal schemes.

States and Union Territories have been directed to inform the FSSAI HQ regarding such incidences of food-borne illness in children and to take legal action against errant food business operators.

In a letter to food safety commissioners, FSSAI on Thursday said, “All the licensing or registration Authorities under your respective jurisdictions may be directed to ensure that all the Food Business Operators involved in the said scheme including schools, NGOs etc. who are preparing and supplying meals for the students have FSSAI license/registration.” It added that cooks and helpers involved in the preparation of the meals should be trained under the Food Safety and Training Certification Scheme.

It also directed state authorities to regularly inspect and obtain samples of freshly cooked foods and raw materials used to make mid-day meals.

“Any incidence of the food poisoning/foodborne illness reported among the children due to consumption of mid-day meals should be notified to FSSAI, Headquarters and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Local Health Authorities for reporting on Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) Portal and the same should be investigated to find the root cause and taking legal action against the defaulting food business operators,” the letter added.

Stating that the scheme aims to improve the level of nutrition among children, the FSSAI said this could only be achieved by ensuring the food prepared for the school children is safe and wholesome, and as per government guidelines.