The northeastern region of India - Manipur ranked third amongst India's small states behind Goa and Meghalaya in this year's State Food Safety Index (SFSI) which was published by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) under the Union health ministry, show the data.

Union Health Minister Manaukh Mandaviya on Monday released the report for 2020-21, in which Gujarat stood top on the ranking with 72 points, followed by Kerala on the second spot  (70) and Tamil Nadu (64) on the third. 

The SFSI was adopted as a step to calculate food safety standards across the country. 

As per FSSAI, the SFSI index is divided into three categories - large states, small states and Union Territories to ensure that comparison is made on similar entities.  

The index ranks the states based on five parameters of food safety - human resources and institutional data, compliance, food testing facility, training and capacity building besides consumer empowerment and all the leading states and UTs were facilitated by the ministers. 

During the event, the health minister flagged off around 19 food testing vans barring improvement in the food safety ecosystem in India. The cumulative number of such testing vans have touched to 109, added the ministry. 

This is FSSAI’s third released index which the ministry published on the 15 years completion of the regulatory body. 

"We should try not to give unhealthy food to our citizens. We can take action against people selling substandard food but that is not a total solution. A lot has been done, but still more steps need to be taken. In the coming days, we need to work towards making citizens healthy," said Mandaviya during the event organised by the body. 

Mr Mandaviya further said that a healthy society can be achieved if citizens have access to quality and balanced diet, for which continuous effort is required by the concerned stakeholders. 

"Consumers need to be aware of sub-standard foods. There is a need to create awareness about this in a country with wide diversity," the minister added.

Meanwhile, among large states, Odisha and Himachal Pradesh have shown consistent improvement in food safety ranking. Odisha's rank has jumped to 4th place this year from 13th in 2018-19, while that of Himachal Pradesh's rank raised to 6th place from 10th position in the said time.

The small states that showed constant improvement are Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, while among Union Territories Jammu and Kashmir and Andaman and Nicobar Islands have shown improvement in food safety. 

FSSAI is working on eliminating industrial trans fat in foods, malnutrition through supporting fortified foods and junk food consumption in youth and children, said FSSAI CEO Arun Singhal during the event. 

He further added that measures are being made to address the issue of growing obesity and consumption of packaged food in youth and children. 

FSSAI chairperson Rita Teaotia stated that the regulatory body is focusing not only on establishing quality standards but to guarantee the safety of food eaten by the consumers. 

The logo for Vegan Foods for easy identification and distinction from non-vegan foods was also launched by the health minister that aims at empowering the consumers to make informed food choices.

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