At the first Indo-Nordic Food Policy roundtable held in New Delhi on 13 December 2018, stakeholders from India and the Nordics discussed ways to promote a more wholesome and nourishing diet, especially among children. India’s premier food standards regulation body, the FSSAI (Food Safety & Standards Authority of India), invited the Nordic Council of Ministers to share their experience on developing sustainable food policies.
Pawan Agarwal, CEO of FSSAI, spoke about India’s “triple burden” of obesity, undernutrition and malnutrition, noting that India can learn from the Nordic approach to nutrition in order to prepare a more robust food policy.
Nutrition is a collective responsibility
In the Nordics, nutrition is viewed as a collective responsibility between governments, schools, food companies and nutritionists. The successful implementation of the front-of-package nutritional labelling system, ”Keyhole”, was another inspirational example from the Nordic model of public-private partnerships.
Mads Frederik Fischer Møller, Senior Adviser on Food Policy at the Nordic Council of Ministers, pointed out the collaborative opportunities coming out of the Roundtable discussions: “Hopefully, we (The Nordic Council of Ministers) can work with the Indian government and at the same time chefs can work with chefs, and everybody can try to get this movement to go a lot faster. Because we all need to see India being a sustainable superpower if the world is to meet its goals on sustainability.”
This was also highlighted by Amitabh Kant, CEO at the National Institution for Transforming India, Niti Aayog: “If you need to become an integral part of the global supply chain, it is very important to work with Nordic countries as they have great experience in nutritious and sustainable food."
If you need to become an integral part of the global supply chain, it is very important to work with Nordic countries as they have great experience in nutritious and sustainable food.
Citizen driven change
The Indian authorities highlighted the concept of street food as a big part of India’s food system. Rita Teaotia, Chairperson of FSSAI, said the effort of her organisation’s Eat Right India movement is to reach out to Indian citizens on the importance of safe foods and simple measures that consumers can take towards a hygienic, balanced and nutritious meal.
The Indian Food Manifesto, highly inspired by the New Nordic Kitchen Manifesto, was launched at Tasting India Symposium in 2017. Danish food entrepreneur, Claus Meyer, joined the stage this year to talk about the need for getting our food system right in order to solve problems around hunger and climate change. Inspired by his talk, Chef Anahita Dhondy stresses the role of chefs as change agents: “I can see that it its really good for the farmer, for the planet and for us. But if someone forces you to eat it because it is good for all of these reasons, you won’t eat it. But if a chef can prepare something delicious you won’t even realise that so much goodness is going into your body.”
Watch all videos from the Tasting India Symposium 2018
Apart from members of the Nordic Food Policy Lab and FSSAI, the roundtable participants included Erik af Hällström, Finland’s Deputy Head of Mission; Maja Overgaard Lund and Knud Østergaard from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration; Sanjoo Malhotra from Tasting India Symposium; and various stakeholders in the food and nutrition domain.