The Union Health Ministry, in partnership with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, has asked states and union territories to develop 100 food streets in 100 districts across the country.
The Centre has taken this endeavour to maintain clean and safe food practices.
In a joint letter, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and his counterpart Manoj Joshi from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs noted that "easy access to safe and hygienic food is vital for the good health of citizens."
"Safe food practices not only promote 'eat right campaign' and food safety, but will improve hygiene, credibility of local food businesses, boost local employment, tourism and in turn, the economy. It also leads to a cleaner and greener environment," they said.
Projecting it as a pilot project to serve as a model for other food streets, the ministry stated that the project's goal is to encourage safe and healthy food practices among food enterprises and community members, hence reducing foodborne illnesses and improving overall health outcomes.
"In Indian society, street food has long played an important role and is abundantly available. They symbolise the region's storied culinary legacy. In addition to supplying millions of people with a low-cost daily diet, street food benefits the tourism industry by directly employing a large number of people", the government release said.
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According to the Union Health Ministry, food safety and hygiene at street food shops and hubs remain a concern. While increased urbanisation has resulted in easier access to food, it has also exacerbated the issue of food contamination and associated health risks due to unsanitary and dangerous food practices.
Financial assistance for the initiative will be provided to states and UTs in the form of Rs 1 crore per food street or district to fill critical gaps, said the statement.
In 100 districts across the country, 100 such food streets will also be established. This assistance will be provided in the ratio of 60:40 or 90:10 under the National Health Mission (NHM), with the condition that standard branding of these food streets be done in accordance with Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) guidelines, it added.
The initiative will be implemented through the National Health Mission (NHM) in convergence with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, with technical support from the FSSAI.