Mobile food testing laboratory impact on India’s food safety

A key initiative to disseminate information and a platform to test food, train food business operators, and spread awareness to all stakeholders in the food supply chain.



The World Food Safety Day theme of “Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow” highlights the importance of producing and consuming safe food for the long-term benefit of consumers, the planet, and the economy. Food safety is the shared responsibility of stakeholders, including governments, producers, processors, and consumers, and each of them has an important role in ensuring that the food is safe and healthy. Though it is a shared responsibility, countries’ food authorities play a significant role in framing science-based standards and regulations and mandating enforcement. Implementing new standards for emerging markets and amending existing regulations should occur periodically to ensure consumer safety and that standards align with the global food safety framework.


Strengthening the food testing system  

Food testing is one of the most important tools in ensuring food safety, and it is usually conducted through surveillance and enforcement measures performed by regulatory bodies, building consumer confidence that food is safe for consumption. While the number of food laboratories is growing in India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) approved the deployment of mobile food testing laboratories in 2016-2017 to supplement existing testing infrastructure and facilities. The “Food Safety on Wheels (FSW)/Mobile Food Testing Laboratory (MFTL)” project falls under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) “Strengthening of food testing system” program.


Food Safety on Wheels (FSW)  

FSWs are multipurpose vehicles used to disseminate information, provide food safety training, perform surveillance, and conduct food testing for consumers in a state’s remote areas and villages, in its educational institutions, and in a variety of consumer settings (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Food Safety on Wheels (FSW) activities.

FSWs are operated by State governments, by their nominated agencies such as NGOs or other societies, or by state laboratories accredited by FSSAI or the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). FSWs are also used to collect samples from remote areas and deliver them to the nearest food testing laboratory. Additionally, State Food Safety Officers (FSO) involved in field activities use FSWs to improve outreach and to shift India’s food safety ecosystem paradigm.  

FSWs are multipurpose vehicles used to disseminate information, provide food safety training, perform surveillance, and conduct food testing for consumers...

Because of the differences between the formal and informal sectors, FSWs play a pivotal role in training Food Business Operators (FBO) on procedures and practices such as GMP/FSMS to ensure food safety and hygiene. They reach out to street food vendors, caterers, retailers and distributors, storage and transportation companies, and manufacturers of a wide range of food products. State food and drug administrations (FDA) are responsible for onboarding qualified technical officers, analysts, and lab assistants for the FSWs

Download content now