RELATED NEW DELHI: Denying having any reservations on food law, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said the successful implementation of the world’s largest social welfare scheme should be “enshrined” on strong domestic production and not on imported grain. Since the food subsidy is almost Rs 1,000 per person per year, there is a need for complete re-engineering of the existing public distribution system (PDS) so as to ensure each and every grain reaches the right beneficiary, he said. The ambitious food law – considered as “game changer” by the Congress-ruled UPA government and described by the opposition parties as “political gimmick” ahead of 2014 general elections – aims to provide a legal right over cheaper foodgrain to about 82 crore people. “A lot has been talked about my reservations on the food security law. There is no question of having any reservations for a social security programme covering the poor and needy sector of the society,” said Pawar, while addressing the state food ministers conference on food law. Stating that implementation of the world’s largest social security programme is a monumental task, he said, “I am of the firm opinion that we must enshrine food security on the strong foundation of domestic production and not on the imported grains.” He said high domestic production of foodgrain will obviate the need for imports that may distort international prices. He urged the state governments to address five aspects – production, procurement, transportation, storage and distribution. On improving distribution, Pawar said, “Distribution side involving procurement, transportation, storage and distribution is an extremely voluminous and multi-layer system posing tremendous challenge to the administration. This makes it vulnerable at every stage.” It would not be a good idea to have a central tailor-made approach for re-engineering the distribution system. “But each state must take up the agenda in a mission mode to implement the food security act in its true spirit,” he suggested. The states should gear up to plug loopholes with the use of appropriate and innovative technology as the incentive for foodgrains diversion from ration shops would be very high because of the huge difference between the market price and the issue price, he added. That apart, Pawar urged states to put extra effort at all stages of operation in ensuring that beneficiaries get quality foodgrain. Noting that the country has achieved self-sufficiency in foodgrain because of strong procurement machinery, Pawar said the future demand of food can be met only if farmers are assured of the support price and procurement, especially in eastern states.
Food distributor Sysco under USDA investigation
(Photo: Photodisc/ Getty Images) Fast-food drive-thrus are getting slower and slower Too many complicated products are slowing things down Also, chains are trying to keep orders more accurate SHARE 191 CONNECT 74 TWEET 17 COMMENTEMAILMORE As if the fast-food industry doesn’t have enough headaches, now it’s got a new one: It’s getting too slow. Never mind that its first name is “fast.” The amount of time that consumers are spending waiting in lines at fast-food drive-thru windows is getting longer, not shorter, mostly due to the growing complexity of new products that the major fast-food chains are selling. This, according to 2013 Drive-Thru Performance Study conducted for QSR Magazine, a fast-food industry trade publication. The study, to be released today, also says that industry giant McDonald’s posted its slowest-ever drive-thru time in the 15-year history of the drive-thru study requiring an average 189.5 seconds for the typical drive-thru customer to go from order to pickup. That’s roughly nine seconds longer than the industry average, reports the study conducted this summer by Insula Research. The importance of the drive-thru business to the $299 billion fast-food industry cannot be overstated. Many major chains do 60% to 70% of their business at the drive-thru. That’s even nudged so-called fast-casual chains like Panera to move into the drive-thru arena and increase the number of drive-thrus it opens. The industry issue that’s slowing down service: menu bloat. Fast food’s ongoing market-share battle is forcing big chains to roll out more premium and more complex products more often. “The operational pressures to assemble those items are slowing down the drive-thru,” says Sam Oches, editor of QSR. For example, Taco Bell told QSR that its Cantina Bell bowls sometimes have up to 12 ingredients which are much more complex to assemble than, say, a Doritos Locos Taco. There’s another factor at work, too: accuracy. “The one thing that angers a customer most is to not get the right food,” says Oches. “It’s possible to be too fast.” Consumers get so upset when they find the wrong kind of burger or the wrong toppings in their bags, that many fast-food sellers are either slowing down the process or adding additional order-accuracy checks to assure correct orders.
Success of food law hinges on raising output: Pawar
Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) told KNTV that they have begun probing Sysco Corporation following a complaint received at the USDAs office in Alameda, California. Members of a local meat trade association reportedly contacted the USDA after watching a July 2013 report showing Sysco employees storing perishable food in non-refrigerated outdoor sheds, then delivering them using their own cars instead of company vehicles. That same month, the California Department of Public Health began its own investigation into what one official called a little bit of a runaway train of violations. Fifteen similar sheds were discovered in Ontario, Canada in September 2013, prompting a separate inquiry by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. A company spokesperson told KNTV that Sysco, which serves about 400,000 customers through its 180 facilities in the U.S., Canada and Ireland, had disposed of the outdoor sheds and was cooperating with authorities. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), who is based out of nearby Santa Cruz and is the ranking member of the Appropriations subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration, criticized Sysco for creating mistrust around itself. Were very concerned because this Sysco problem violates the trust the growers have in growing the safest food in the world and the producers of meat and poultry in abiding by the federal laws that are the toughest in the world, Farr told KNTV. The problem is the handlers and what happens in the time it leaves the security of the grower or producers and gets to the restaurants. [Image via KNTV-TV]