The government is looking at ways to regulate street vendors so that some quality standards are imposed on street food, Secretary in the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Rajesh Kumar Singh said on Thursday.
He said that though it is a "tough" call to take, but it needs to be looked at.
Addressing FSSAI's Global Food Regulators Summit here, he sought inputs from other countries about their regulations for street food vendors.
He said one has to look at whether a financial penalty or compounding is sufficient or a more stringent provisions like imprisonment is required for violating the regulations.
Many of foreign tourists here would hear or notice that the best food in India is served on the street by street food vendors.
"Therefore, street vendors also need to be regulated...but how heavy-handed should that regulation be. Should we imprison somebody, if the standards are below the standards specified by FSSAI?," Singh said.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is the food regulator of the country.
The secretary said that he is mentioning this issue because the department is introducing a bill in parliament this session, which seeks to decriminalise a lot of minor offences from the colonial times that provided for imprisonment for minor offences.
"In this particular case for street vendors, we would be doing a lot of soul searching as to whether we should put somebody in prison, if he happens to mistakenly serve food that is perhaps stale or not meeting the standards. It's a tough call to take and it is something that perhaps needs to be looked at," he added.
Further, Singh called for a fresh global approach to improve food safety by strengthening national food safety standards and systems while improving national and inter-national collaborations.
From a global perspective, ensuring food safety and quality is a public health priority and an essential step to achieve food security.
He added that this task is not easy as the world is now more inter-connected and food systems are changing faster than ever and food are being produced, managed, delivered and consumed in ways that were not anticipated a few decades ago.
"Novelty food products whether it is a vegan meat or the possibility of artificial milk of different types, all these calls for a fresh global approach to improve food safety by strengthening national food safety standards and systems while improving national and inter-national collaborations," he added.