A Healthy Bite

Food safety simply means the condition to keep any food absolutely free from contaminations and fit for human consumption. It is the hygienic and nutritional food which permits the development and maintenance of good health. In 2015, WHO reported the first ever estimate of disease burden caused by 31 food borne agents at global and regional level. So, without a safe, healthy and hygienic intake of food one cannot even dream of a healthy and potent output.

Globalization has triggered growing consumer demand for a wider variety of food resulting in an increasingly complex and longer food chain. Climate change also has an impact on food safety and risks associated with its production, storage and distribution. Thus these challenges have put a great responsibility on food producers and handlers to ensure food safety.

So, in order to provide safe and wholesome food to the countrymen, government of India made Food Safety Act 2006, rules 2011 and regulations 2011 for the whole country. The same act was adopted by the Govt. of J&K by way of legislation. By virtue of this act some science based standards for the articles of food were laid down. This has enabled government of India to take under its control the food industry of the country. Under this act even a petty manufacturer has to follow basic hygiene and safety requirements provided by these regulations. The guidance on a food safety management system, for bakery and bakery products is based on part-II of schedule (IV) of food safety and standards.

For the bakery industry there are many challenges, such as equipments which need to be hygienically designed and the policies which define the safety of these equipments such as planetary  mixers, spiral mixers, dough dividers and dough rounders, moulders dough sheaters, ovens and even extractors and overall a clean mandate of improved packing and technology trends. We need to advance in this area.

From the Food Safety angle which is the key factor for food laws of the country, we can make use of advancements that we see today in the global knowledge and can later integrate them for the benefit of cottage, small and medium industries.

So, every product from each bakery must have a fixed seal of safety and nutrition packed into it. We can achieve this given target easily provided we interface and not become silos of industries which only worries their profits. We must go beyond it and think beyond it. We must pledge to ensure ethical business which dominates so that customers may get safe and contamination free articles of food.

Here the question arises how can we become leaders in the area of food production, even though we know that bakery was not one of the main food stuffs that we were producing in the recent past. But due to the innovations and adoption of latest trends we could grab an opportunity to lead the food industry to the next level. We also need to have new plans which are energy conservative and cost-effective. The mantra behind those plans is to process more products and to have more progress by innovations and value additions. For the purpose we need to look at ingredients such as high fiber, low fat high protein and to a large extent minimize the carbohydrates in our products.

 Another important area that the bakery industry has to focus on is the use of millets. Presently India consumes 90 lakh metric tons of millets, one of the highest in the world. So bakers should not hesitate in using this opportunity for their products which are acceptable nutritionally and are available at an affordable cost.

From the nutritional point of view an average Indian today is consuming 5 gram less protein than what is required.

In Kashmir, foods fortified with carbohydrates in the shape of rice are being consumed at a large scale which is alarming from the health point of view. In order to overcome this we need to shift to other alternatives such as cereals, pulses, fruits – both dry and fresh, in our products. This is how we can fill up the gap with a clear mandate of high protein and high fiber.

In India nearly 10 million people are suffering from several diseases related to sensitiveness of wheat. One of them is celiac disease, a genetically determined autoimmune condition that can be present in any age group. This forces a patient to eat non-wheat, no-rye and non-barely products. So the role of the pulses, millets and fruits in the bakery products is of immense importance. As these are non-glutinous in nature they play a great role for regulation of immune system and autoimmune problems which people may have.

Here is the greatest opportunity for new additives and ingredients to make non wheat flavors which behave like wheat. As a result of innovations and new trends in food habits the present world has seen a successful food product in the shape of noodles. In some of the countries noodles were not dominant food but now these have become their staple food. Snacky, healthy and less fat noodles have huge market share. 140 million packets of noodles are being consumed a day as estimated in 2015 which can go up to 200 trillion packets by 2020. Same way bakery industry has a lot to do in creating new markets for producing healthy products by way of using different flavors and health hosed ingredients. At the same time, in order to fight obesity, one of the greatest challenges of the present world and to enhance the cognitive development. On the other side by way of innovative products with less fat, this problem can be solved easily. This can happen only with a clear science based approach and radiate the timeline to make things happen easily and rapidly. The role of biotechnology, molecular medicine, nutritional science and traditional food knowledge can be of great advantage for bakery industry which should be capitalized with low level of salt, sugar and fat.

By adopting all the above trends I think bakery industry can play a great role in building the health of nation.

Sufi Bashir Basher is  Ex. President, Kashmir Bakers Association.