Thursday, December 18, 2008


Repacking and re-bottling are some times practiced for salvaging processed foods and beverages which are still quality conformed and safe for consumption. In the case of alcoholic beverages, greater the storage period better will be the quality of the product, often referred to as maturation. Same is true with wines also as maturation mellows the product removing the harsh note that is native to freshly made wines. But the expression 'old wine in new bottle' some how conveys a negative message implying that there is nothing new in what is being projected as original.

Here are some samples:

" along with growth in food industry, there is also need to meet safety standards---. that standard could be met only by improving harvesting and post harvesting technology. Cluster farming, no tax, exception from export duty and amendment to APMC act are some of issues---. 70% of population is involved in agricultural activities; it is only 4% in United States and 7% in European countries. ---they need to channelize it by adopting harvesting and post harvesting technology and value addition technique compulsorily." The IFCON inaugural address of the Minister of State for Food Processing Industry, GOI on Dec 16, 2008 at Mysore

Sounds familiar? Of course same words were heard since sixties and Dr H A B Parpia, the living symbol of food technology in India to day has been uttering these sentiments for almost 3 decades leading to the eventual setting up of the MFPI in late eighties! Even after two decades of existence of MFPI, nothing seems to have changed as reflected by the speech of the minister who heads the ministry, as quoted above.

" of late people are very choosy in selecting food and health conscious too. Indian traditional food has qualities that could keep diseases at bay. There was lot of scope for young food scientists to undertake a detailed research in this regard as it may benefit crores of people across the world. ---Value addition of fruits is only 7% in India and they need to take it to 20%. CFTRI was the first to come out with sugar cane beverages which could be sold across the table. People hesitate to drink sugar cane juice on road side but if the same juice is packed in bottles hygienically it may be consumed by every body." Special speech at IFCON 2008 by head of the food research institute at Mysore.

Sounds familiar? Of course, the subject of traditional foods has been thrashed in more than 20 seminars since 1985 with practically all aspects covered but no concrete action was forth coming to achieve results. Is it not a paradox to discover that same story is repeated to day with no hope of any action in the future also? Probably this will be repeated in the next IFCON also and promptly forgotten. What defies logic is that with more than 500 food scientists working under him in the premier food R & D agency since 1994 why nothing has been done there so far, in stead of coining new words like DDF for the very same traditional foods and the platitudes expressed in such public forums. As for sugar cane juice the product was available in many countries such as Singapore in tetra packs since nineties.

" Street foods will be safer to consume at Rama Vilas Road, Mysore, popularly known as Chaat Street after the vendor training program initiated as a part of IFCON 2008. The 'training" of one week duration has enabled the street vendors to prepare foods under hygienic condition and keep the environment clean to avoid infection and consequent diseases. The street will don a new look and script a new chapter in street food business. You will find them wearing aprons, caps and gloves. A model project taken up by the IFCON sponsors has educated food vendors of this road on these key issues. About 20 street vendors attended the 'workshop'. A test will be held and certificates will be issued to the participants" Report in print media under the title " Healthy stuff, environs await you on Chaat Street" reproducing the press release of IFCON sponsors.

Sounds familiar? Of course who has not heard of the pioneering efforts of Prof Indira Chakravorty of All India Institute of Public Health and Hygiene, Kolkatta, in modernizing street food sector in early nineties bringing her international laurels? Her subsequent mission to involve Kolkatta city authorities and the police force does not seem to have resulted in any dramatic changes in the city vis-a-vis street vendors. If this project was taken up as an all India mission on a long term duration by AFST instead of going through it as a one time attempt, the efforts would have been worth while.

It is time we replace the old 'wine' in the new bottle with fresh one so that it does not go sour! In the interest of the country let us be serious and not allow the youngsters to acquire the habit of recycling ideas in stead of striving for innovation, dedication and commitment. God bless India.


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