Report on Orientation Workshop for DO’s and FSO’s - for implementation of Trans fat regulations in Tamil Nadu – Web Meeting
Date: 11th November, 2020
Citizen consumer and civic Action Group, in collaboration with the Tamil Nadu Food Safety Department (TNFSD), organised an orientation e-program for the Designated Officers (DOs) and the Food Safety Officers (FSOs) of the state, to familiarise them about trans fat and its ill effects, the science behind it, existing and proposed international and national policies, and the need for effective implementation.
TNFSD has been very supportive of our work on implementation of trans fat regulations in Tamil Nadu, since the last one and half years. It started with the TNFSD inviting us to take part in the Eat Right Mela organised by the Tamil Nadu government in 2019. We were allotted a stall where we had put up posters and ran a video on the harmful effects of trans fat, to educate everyone who visited the Mela. The DOs and FSOs took part in our awareness programs held in schools and colleges, and in multi-stakeholder meetings held in the districts of Tuticorin, Madurai, Gobi, Nagapattinam, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Villupuram, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, Trichy, Tanjore and Tiruvarur. TNFSD accepted CAG’s support in lifting statutory (legal) samples of oils and vanaspathi to test for compliance with existing norms. The DOs and FSOs from the respective districts coordinated the effort.
The suggestion for the orientation program for DOs and FSOs was floated in early 2020. While TNFSD accepted it, the event got delayed due to the pandemic. Finally, the program was scheduled as a web meeting on 11 November 2020. The event saw the participation of more than 230 DOs and FSOs from all the districts of Tamil Nadu. The program was anchored by Ms Saroja, Director - Consumer Protection, CAG.
Speakers included Dr. P. Raghu, Scientist E from National Institute of Nutrition who introduced the topic trans fat, the chemistry behind it and analysis of it through a presentation. One among his ongoing research projects is bio-monitoring of trans fat levels in India. Next, Mr. Ranjit Singh, Advocate practicing in the Supreme Court of India, covered the current and proposed regulations for trans fat and the penalties for non compliance. He also spoke about Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) 360 degree approach to food safety and nutrition. Subsequently, Dr.Roopa Shivashankar, Senior Consultant on Nutrition and Cardiovascular Health, Resolve to Save Lives, Vital Strategies, summarised the presentations made by the previous speakers. She also played FSSAI’s ‘Heart Attack Rewind’ video in Tamil. Following Dr Roopa, we had FSSAI consultants Dr. Swati Bhardwaj and Dr. Meenu Singh who presented in detail about how trans fats are assessed, and how oils and fats can be sampled when they are sampled from manufacturing units, business to business products, and retail outlets. Finally, Dr. Pasupathi Venkat, Lead Food Expert, FOSTAC - FSSAI, while agreeing on the need for appropriate action to ensure regulatory compliance, emphasised that it was equally important to continually nudge all stakeholders towards a trans fat free society. The program ended with a question and answer session.