CSIR labs join hands to stop food wastage
India wastes up to 67 million tonnes of food every year. This food is more than the national output of countries like Britain and enough to feed one of country's larger states for a whole year. According to Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET), a harvest-research body, the value of food lost annually is about Rs 92,000 crore.
Seven laboratories of CSIR have come together to work in a mission mode in three focus areas—milk and beverages, edible oils and food storage. The food safety mission, called FOCUS, aims to bring together industry giants like Amul, ITC and FCI on board to create a robust system and translate science into the best practices. Clear and consistent food regulatory policy and their implementation are both imperative for growth, says senior scientist Prof Arun Tiwari who is associated with the food safety mission.
According to CIPHET study, one million tonne of onions vanish on their way from farms to markets and about 2.2 million tonne tomatoes also vanish and overall, five million eggs crack or go bad due to lack of cold storage. The study recommends farm training and cold-storage investments.
"Scientists from different disciplines, for example, physics, chemistry, economics, psychology, biology, have got the opportunity to use their collective wisdom in this crucial mission to tackle food safety and aduleration,'' says Dr Girish Sahni, Director General, CSIR.
India is frontrunner in nuclear science and technology and yet the issue of food irradiation lingered at the cost of enormous quantities of fruits and vegetables perishing in supply chains. Irradiation is a well-established process of exposing foodstuffs to ionizing radiation. Department of Atomic Energy has recently appointed former chairman of Electronics Corporation of India, P Sudhakar, to head its outreach program and use this and other nuclear technologies for the benefit of both producers and consumers of food.
CSIR has come out with an accurate, portable test kit to test milk for adulteration. Also, a scanner "Ksheer Scanner'' has been developed which can detect adulteration in milk in 40 seconds, and pinpoint the adulterant. The scanner is priced at about Rs 10,000, and each test would cost just around 10 paisa.