Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said that due to the unprecedented challenges faced by the world on account of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a renewed focus on food, nutrition, health, immunity and sustainability.Presided over an event organised by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to celebrate World Food Day, he said: The "FSSAI's Eat Right India movement targets to promote safe and healthy food for everyone in an environmentally sustainable way. It is a part of its mandate to provide safe and wholesome food for all citizens. This will improve the food safety ecosystems and lift the hygiene and health of our citizens."Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey also joined, via video conferencing, the event, whose theme this year's event is "Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together".A key focus this year is elimination of trans fats from the food supply chain. A food toxin present in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVOs) (e.g. vanaspati, shortening, margarine, etc.), baked and fried foods, trans fat is a major contributor to the rise in non-communicable diseases in India.Harsh Vardhan said: "Trans fat is a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Eliminating CVD risk factor is especially relevant during Covid-19 as people with CVD are predisposed to have serious conditions having an impact on mortality."He reminded everyone of the government's effort to make India trans fat free by 2022, a year ahead of WHO's target, in synergy with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a New India on 75 years of the country's independence.
Reiterating the game changing potential of 'Eat Right India' and 'Fit India Movement', the Minister said: "These two movements along with Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jal Jeevan Mission and other efforts of the Environment Ministry will improve the health of Indians and heal the environment."Expressing his amazement at the marvels of the internet where curious citizens can look up things on the whole gamut of information available, he asked officials of FSSAI to promote awareness and consumer education leveraging technology so that informed citizens can make responsible choices.Harsh Vardhan also launched the Eat Right Creativity Challenge for schools which is a poster and photography competition and aims to promote healthy dietary habits.He also launched the 'Eat Smart City' (challenge) by FSSAI in partnership with Smart City Mission and The Food Foundation, UK which will create an environment of right food practices and habits in India's smart cities and can set an example for other cities to follow.Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, FSSAI CEO Arun Singhal, and other senior officials of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and FSSAI were present at the event.State Food Safety Commissioners, Regional Directors and officers of FSSAI, professionals of scientific panel of oils and fats, officials of international public health organisations, the WHO, the World Bank, members of NePRoFaN - Network of Professionals of Food and Nutrition, prominent food business corporates, industry associations, implementation partners, development partners for Food Fortification were also invited to attend the event through video conference.