Wednesday, 8 April 2015

World Health Day 2015: Prioritising food safety at Akshaya Patra

To celebrate the beginning of the World Health Organisation, 7th April is observed as World Health Day. The theme chosen for World Health Day 2015 is 'From farm to plate, make food safe'.

All over the world making sufficient food available to the underserved is prioritised, but not enough attention is paid to providing safe food. The Akshaya Patra Foundation puts food safety before every other priority in its mid-day meal programme. The Foundation goes to huge lengths to ensure that the food being served to over 1.4 million children each day across India is not just enough to fill their bellies, but has been cooked safely to nurture their growth.

At each stage of the programme there are several measures that Akshaya Patra adopts to ensure absolute food safety in its mid-day meal programme.

At the stage of procuring the raw materials, Akshaya Patra implements Supplier Quality Management Systems (SQMS) to ensure that all the suppliers chosen meet the Foundation's high standards of selection, qualification and rating. Even after selecting the supplier, the raw material is accepted only after a thorough checking.

The raw material (vegetables) are washed and cut, before being put in cold storage till it's time to begin the cooking process. The vegetables are sorted in an efficient 'First in, First out' method that ensures freshness of the produce.

Akshaya Patra only uses 304 grade stainless steel for its vessels, the best for cooking and storing food safely. In addition, the kitchen equipment like trolleys, rice chutes, dal/sambar tanks etc are put through a steam sterilisation procedure before cooking. 10 of Akshaya Patra kitchens are ISO 22000:2005 certified.

During the cooking process too, hygiene is upheld at every point in the kitchen. The kitchen follows a strict regimen of daily showers, using protective gear like gloves, gum boots, caps, masks and more, and the kitchen also has hygiene charts placed strategically around the area for more information. All the kitchens have Production Supervisors who implement and maintain Food Safety Management Systems in all of Akshaya Patra's 24 locations.

Once the food is cooked, it is loaded onto Akshaya Patra's meal delivery vans for delivery. These vans are specially designed to retain the freshness of the food. Its puffed body maintains the correct temperature while the honeycomb structure fitted within prevents spillage.

Aside from this, improvement in the form of regular training, feedback and strategies like Kaizen, Six Sigma and CI Projects are frequently implemented at Akshaya Patra. 10 of Akshaya Patra kitchens are ISO 22000:2005 certified.

Food safety is crucial to the healthy development of every nation, and Akshaya Patra leaves no stone unturned in its goal of someday providing safe, healthy food to each and every underserved child in India. With your support we will never falter.


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