ALL ABOUT FSSAI: FOOD SAFETY & STANDARDS AUTHORITY OF INDIA

Last Updated On: Feb. 9, 2020, 7:54 p.m.
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Food Safety & Standards Authority of India commonly known as FSSAI is an authority that controls & supervises food safety for the protection & promotion of public health. It is established by the government in 2006 under the Food safety & standards Act, 2006 consolidating various preexisting acts like Prevention of food adulteration act, 1954, fruit products order, 1955, meat food products order, 1973, etc.

The aim of the act is to remove difficulties of jumping among various food safety legislations to provide a common/single point where all the matters relating to food safety & standards can be referred to a common authority (FSSAI) created under the Act. The authority is entrusted with the responsibility of formulating various rules & regulations for handling food-related issues in various ministries & departments.

The establishing of FSSAI resulted in various benefits to the consumers & Food business operators (FBO) like single Point access for laws, complaints, etc., consumer confidence in quality & safety products and resulted in single licensing authority.

The FSSAI is entrusted with the following functions to fulfill the aim of providing good quality food products:

⦁ Framing regulations regarding safety standards & various guidelines regarding food-related issues.

⦁ Lay down structure, guideline & procedure for accreditation of food testing labs.

⦁ Providing scientific advice & technical support to governments on food safety-related manners.

⦁ General awareness of food safety & standards.

⦁ Collection of data.

⦁ Providing training to the persons involved.

FSSAI is the monitoring authority & grants license and registration to FBOs for the purpose of accountability, maintaining the quality of food products & protection of consumer rights to have good quality food products.

License is mandatory for every FOB but for petty manufacturers, petty retailers, hawkers, cottage industries, temporary stallholders, etc. the license is optional. Following is the procedure of getting a license or registration:

⦁ Firstly, check the eligibility criteria that whether there is a mandatory requirement of getting itself registered or licensed.

⦁ Then, choose the category i.e. central license, state license, registration in which FBOs want to get itself registered or licensed.

⦁ Collect all the documents or information required before filing the application to save time & smooth process. The required documents can be seen from the FSSAI website.

⦁ Then, submit FORM A to the food & safety department.

⦁ Within 7 days department will either reject or accept the application by duly intimating the fact of acceptance or rejection.

⦁ If the application is accepted, the department will grant registration certificate & there is a corresponding obligation on the FBOs to mention the registration no. on the packing of every food product.

Recently, the FSSAI introduced new food quality standards on alcoholic beverages, food fortification, packaging, advertising & claims, and tolerance limits of antibiotics, etc. 

In 2018, around 27 new regulations have been notified to ensure safe food to the consumers with no negative impact on business. But the issue of compliance, monitoring, inspection, and enforcement still remains. In 2018 itself, the parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare in its report highlighted the weak monitoring & control of FSSAI over malpractices of FBOs.

From January 1, the following regulations have come into effect

1. Standards for all pulses, whole and decorticated pearl millet grains, de-germed maize flour and maize grit, couscous, Tempe, textured soy protein, sago flour, bee wax, and royal jelly. 

2. Microbiological standards for fruits and vegetables and their products. 

3. All provisions of organic food regulations. 

4. Standards for honey, except few parameters where test methods are being validated.

Three months' time has been given to comply with the standards regarding the tolerance limit of antibiotics and pharmacology active substances.

From April 1, 2019, standards for alcoholic beverages will come into force to coincide with financial year requirements excise laws. Form, June 1 Food fortification standards will come into force.

Revised standards for milk and milk products have come into force on 1st July 2018, except the compliance of labeling requirement for frozen dessert which would apply from 1st July 2019 unless reviewed.

From July 1, compliance of labeling requirement for frozen desserts, advertising & claims, packaging & labeling requirements of blended edible vegetable oils will come into force.

The key features of the newly introduced food packaging regulations include a prohibition on packaging material made of recycled plastics, prohibition on newspaper and materials containing inks & dyes used on food packages, regulation of migration limits for contaminants for plastic packaging materials. The date specified for compliance of these regulations is by July 1, 2019.

In this regard, CEO Pawan Kumar stated that through a national survey conducted on food packaging materials, it was observed that the material used in the organized sector is safer than the unorganized sector. He also highlighted the objective of these new packaging regulations to protect the migration of contaminants from packaging, atmosphere, etc. & preserve the food.

The major achievement of FSSAI recently is to introduce norms for e-commerce operators indulged in online food delivery and grocery operators like swiggy, zomato, grofers, big basket etc. The key features include the emphasis on food safety during last-mile delivery, the obligation of delivering only that food which shelf life of 30% or 45 days before the expiry at the time of delivery, most importantly delivery of fresh food, mentioning of the mandatory information required by the act to the customers etc.

Also, the FSSAI asked these food aggregators to de-list un-Licensed/un-Registered food businesses. These aggregators were also advised to promote food safety and hygiene amongst their listed food businesses by training of food safety supervisors, compliance of Good Hygiene Practices (GHP), ensuring the display of ‘Food Safety Boards’ on their premises.

To conclude, it can be said that FSSAI is really making an effort to ensure food safety after the case, Maggi. But the implementation of these regulations is still a big question mark.  While consumers & FBOs will welcome these new moves which aim to increase food safety, it is time to work harder to ensure compliance as soon as possible with this new legal framework.

For FSSAI Registration, please contact Legal Suvidha at 9599937963 or 8130645164 or you can email us at support@legalsuvidha.com

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