Food Safety Enforcement News – India this week – May -14-2017


Parents and Varsity respond to government’s no-junk resolution

If you are one of those parents who cajole your kid with junk foods; be it for their homework or scoring best marks in the class, wait! You might want to think again about this, as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is planning to levy additional taxes on processed food and sugar-sweetened beverages and also have called for a blanket ban on advertising of junk foods and beverages on kids’ channels and on all other mediums that connect with children. This happened after the Maharashtra government announced a ban on the sale of junk food at the school canteens.
Schools Speak
According to the GR passed by the government on Monday, every school in the state is prohibited from selling or deal with junk foods, be it Government schools, private aided schools or the privately owned schools. The Principals of the private schools are confused as to why such a ban has been imposed when they already have implimented a no-junk food policy in their school canteens.
Talking to The Afternoon D&C, Nishant Garodia, the Principal of Garodia International School, Ghatkopar, explained the daily menu of their school canteen. He said,”The government’s Junk food policy is valid and acceptable. However, as far as I know, even before the government asked, most of the private schools already followed the no-junk food rule in their canteens.” According to him, Garodia International has a weekly food chart which includes healthy foods, however, they have a cheat day too!
“Every week, we have allotted one day as cheat day where the students will be given their beloved junkies. Pizzas, Pastas, Chocolates and Burgers. The reason behind this is not to oppress their urge to consume their favourite food,” he added.
According to Garodia and other Principals, providing junk food once in a while is okay, they feel by stopping them from eating junkies, may lead to some other trouble. Psychologically, if a child is not given what they desire, they will find other ways to possess them which may prove fatal.
Dilshad Thobani, Principal of H.A and L.S Girls High School, Masjid Bunder, said, “I feel that’s a very positive move. But even before the ban, I had asked the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) members to prepare home made stuff rather than packaged food items in their children tiffins.”
Why Banning Junk Will Cause Trouble?
According to the canteen owners around the schools and colleges, the one thing that students are most attracted to is Junk food. Foods like potato chips of various brands, cold drinks, Frankie (bread roll), Pizzas, Pasta, etc. are students’ favourite food types. The canteen owners are afraid that if the government asks them to discontinue selling all these junk food they might lose out on business.
What about the University ban?
The Government Resolution (GR) which was passed on Monday clearly stated the eradication of Junk food from the school canteens in the state. The question is that will the schools really work under the guidelines of the GR?
Like the Maharashtra government, The University Grants Commission (UGC) too had issued instructions last November against the availability and sale of junk food in the higher educational institutions. UGC, which works under the Human Resource Development (MHRD), had passed such an instruction to set new standards for healthy food and make the students live and learn better. However, the University of Mumbai (MU) still provides all types of Junk food and sweetened and carbonated drinks in their varsity canteens.

A taste of a healthier, emptier future?

It’s natural that the Indian middle-class bulge is seen differently by marketers and nutritionists. But the recent Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) move to decree as junk most things that Indians — large and small — love to munch on and recommend they be swept off our plates in the interests of good health and slapped with a sin tax may not do a fat lot of good. 
As the food authority’s no-nos include all sweet, deep-fried and salted ‘snacks’, potato chips, candy, burgers, pizzas, nuggets, noodles, confectionaries, packaged soups and colas, among many other things, children would be the first to ask — as they are wont to do — “Then what else is there for me to eat, even as a treat?” It is likely, therefore, that any caveat against these toothsome delights will be taken with a huge pinch of salt by most people. Man, after all, cannot live by bread alone, even if it is whole grain and bromate-free or a chapati. 
Given the flip-flops by experts on everything from salt and ghee to eggs and red meat — including sugar replacing fat as the new Public (Health) Enemy No. 1— Indians can be forgiven for being sceptical about this new good-food/bad-food diktat. In fact, they could get so spooked by harangues about what they should (not) eat that they may rush off for a sugar and-carb fix just to soothe their jangled nerves and tummies.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is finalising new labelling norms for packaged food companies, which is expected to include provisions to ensure more transparency on sodium, sugar and saturated fat content in processed food.Expert group suggestions
The new norms will incorporate recommendations of an expert group which has proposed positive nutritional labelling and has proposed making it mandatory for packaged food companies to disclose total calories/energy value, amount of carbohydrates, sugar, fat, protein and sodium on their labels.
The expert group was constituted by FSSAI in 2015 to provide recommendations on various issues, including labelling requirements for packaged food and regulatory limits for fat, sugar and salt in processed food among others.
The expert group has made several recommendations such as banning advertising of food high in fat, salt and sugar on children television channels or during children shows. It has also suggested that celebrity endorsements of such foods should be discouraged. It has also recommended imposition of additional tax on packaged foods with high salt, high sugar and high fat content.
When contacted, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, told BusinessLine: “These are wide-ranging recommendations that require action by various stakeholders. The recommendations will be incorporated in the new labelling regulations, which we are in the process of finalising. The Authority will be taking up the labelling regulations in its meeting this month, which will then be sent to the government as part of the due process.”
On its website, FSSAI said the expert group’s report serves as a guideline document for all the stakeholders, including the industry, the FSSAI and consumers, in reducing consumption of fat, sugar and salt through processed food products. After the report was approved by the scientific committee of FSSAI, it has been put in the public domain by the regulator.
Other recommendations include encouraging industry for voluntary reformulation of food products to reduce the content of saturated fats,sugar and salt in packaged food. It has also recommended periodic monitoring of fat, salt and sugar intakes at national level.

India’s food safety regulator wants higher tax on packaged food, sweetened drinks

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) also wants a blanket ban on advertising of junk foods and beverages on children’s channels and content for children across television, websites and social media.
Packaged junk food may soon cost more with India’s top food regulatory authority recommending additional tax on processed food and sugar-sweetened beverages.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) also wants a blanket ban on advertising of junk foods and beverages on children’s channels and content for children across television, websites and social media.
“Imposing additional tax on the purchase of commodities such as pre-packaged foods with high salt and fat content, sugar sweetened beveragesetc can be a pragmatic approach to reduce their intake,” said the FSSAI’s report on ‘Consumption of Fat, Sugar and Salt (FSS) and its health effects on India’s population’.
“Advertisement ban for foods high in FSS during children TV shows or kids TV channels is urged. In fact, we should progress towards a total ban law as being done in a few other countries like Chile,” recommended the 11 members panel of experts from medicine, nutrition, dietetics and medical research in the report, which suggests ways to cut unhealthy food consumption and lower the rising burden of lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
The report suggests celebrity endorsements of unhealthy foods discouraged and recommends having a balanced diet with around 60-70 per cent of total calories from carbohydrates, 10-12 per cent from protein and 20-30 per cent from fat.
Higher tax on unhealthy food and beverages has been a longstanding demand of public health experts. “Modelling studies on how eating less junk food lowers obesity and risk of lifestyle disease such as diabetes, heart disease, and chronic kidney disease, which affect Indians at a younger age than other ethnicities. India must consider taxation on unhealthy foods, restrictions on advertising and appropriate labelling of food to lower consumption across socio-economic groups,” said Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis C-DOC centres for diabetes, metabolic diseases and endocrinology.
“The money from additional tax on unhealthy foods can be used promote nutrition education in schools and the community,” said Dr Misra, who made these recommendations in a paper for British Medical Journal.
It recommends all food labels must carry total calories, amount of carbohydrates, sugar, fat, protein, sodium, dietary fibre and trans-fat. “A total of 10 per cent of total energy is allowed as added sugars in our daily diet. Simple sugars and refined carbohydrates should be reduced. These come largely from sugar sweetened beverages and processed snacks with high added sugar content,” the report said.
It recommends fats in the form of unsaturated fatty acids (oils that do not solidify at room temperature), especially the long chain mono- and poly unsaturated-fatty acids, should be encouraged in everyday diets was among the recommendations.
The report will be a guideline document for all the stakeholders, including the FSSAI, industry and consumers, in reducing consumption of fat, sugar and salt through processed food products.


Administration to keep tab on sweet shops

PATNA: The Patna district administration on Saturday decided to act tough against those selling poor quality sweetmeat, namkeens and other confectionary items in various shops across the city.
District magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agarwal said food safety, weight and measures and commercial taxes officials will keep a close eye on quality of sweets being sold in different shops besides taking action against those cheating customers while weighing the products. A magistrate will accompany these officials in course of raid.
The DM said the decision was taken following complaints that several sweetshops were weighing products along with the box. “Since one such box weighs 50gm, the shopkeepers are fooling the customers,” Agarwal said.
He added in many high-end shops and malls, there was no option for the consumers to weigh the packaged product. “These shops have been asked to provide weighing machine to the consumers, failing which they will be punished,” the DM said.
The team will also check the quality of materials being used in preparing sweets and milk products, such as paneer and khoya. “Use of poor quality oil and harmful colours can pose a threat to the health of people,” the DM said.
The DM also urged the people to remain alert and inform the district administration if they come across any shop selling poor quality food products. “People can call on 2219810 or share the information on Facebook page of the district administration,” said Agarwal.
The shopkeepers have also been advised to display the rate of various products, inclusive of all taxes, so that a consumer can know beforehand how much he has to pay. All the shops and hotels have been given a one-week time to comply with the order.

Mangoes, papayas turn toxic in Sec 26, shows raid

UT health department cracked down on the use of banned chemical calcium carbide for artifically ripening fruits at wholesale godowns in the Sector 26 grain market on Saturday, carrying out early-morning raids that started from 7am and continued for three hours. By the end of the raids, carried out with the help of the police force and under the supervision of sub-divisional magistrate (east) Tapsya Raghav , the department seized 2.5 tonnes of papaya that had been artifically rippened and found most of the 20 vendors who had been raided, using calcium carbide.”We also found packets of ethylene which were used for ripening mangoes. We have sent the samples of it to the laboratory to check whether the chemical is being used in the permissible limits,” said Raghav.
The department has since destroyed the papayas.
The SDM said most vendors were found using chemicals to ripen the fruits either in trucks standing behind their shops or in rented godowns. She also said use of calcium carbide for artificial ripening of fruits was not allowed under the Food and Safety Act, 2006, and Rules and Regulations, 2011. Thoughh laws on the use of calcium carbide are strict and even entail 10 years of imprison ment, the harmful chemical -otherwise used by welders -is applied on fruits by vendors without any fear.
When asked if there was a way to stop vendors from using calcium carbide on the fruits, the SDM said it was a grey-colored powder used by welders, so its supply could not be stopped in the market.”But we will keep a check on its usage,” she said.
The director of the Sector 26 market committee, Subhash Randhawa, said adulterated mangoes were coming from “Madras and China”.”The chemical is being applied by suppliers their only.The practice of ripening papayas through carbide has stopped completely here,” he added.

Shops and bakeries come under scanner

Surveillance part of Statewide alert against sale of jelly candy, pudding and related products
Shops and bakeries in Ernakulam selling jelly candy and savouries will be under the close scanner of the Food Safety Department.
The move comes close on the heels of the death of a child due to suspected food poisoning after eating jelly candy from a bakery in Kozhikode last month. The surveillance over the shops and bakeries forms part of the State-wide alert against sale of jelly candy, pudding and related products. Senior officials of the Food Safety Department said that shop owners had removed the stocks of the jelly candy manufactured by a Coimbatore-based confectionery immediately after the Kozhikode incident hit headlines.
Food safety officials pointed out that samples of jelly candy and other confectioneries will be collected on a routine basis as part of the strengthened vigil after the Kohzikode incident. They have asked the retailers and wholesale shops not to sell sweets and savouries without mentioning the manufacturing date and expiry date. Stringent action will be taken against those responsible for not carrying the details of the ingredients in the food items, they said.
Bakers Association Kerala has demanded an increased vigil over the sale of chocolates, toffees, and jelly candy by misbranding it as foreign products. P. M. Sankaran, president of the association, said that several sweets and chocolates banned abroad are being sold through various outlets in the State. Bakeries should not sell items that lack the licence issued by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, he said.
FSSAI officials have made it clear that manufacturers should display the 14-digit licence number on the packet, container or bottle in which the food item is stored. It should also have the customer care number and address of the manufacturer. Those who fail to get the mandatory licence will be sentenced to six months in prison and fined ₹5 lakh, they said.

FDA issues closure notice to unpackaged drinking water units

NAGPUR : The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Nagpur division, has sent closure notices to about seven units of the region, selling unpackaged drinking water without mandatory licenses. Last week, FDA had raided these units on the directives of FDA commissioner Harshdeep Kamble.
FDA assistant food commissioner of Nagpur division Milind Deshpande, who is also holding additional charge of rural, said that these units are now prohibited from selling drinking water. “Action has been taken under section 36 of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006,” Deshpande added.
The seven units include three from Nagpur and two in Bhandara and Gadchiroli each. The food safety officers of Bhandara and Gadchiroli divisions were called to Nagpur and handed over the notices. “If the units continue to sell water despite notices, matter will go for adjudication,” Deshpande said.
FDA will continue raiding more such units in the coming weeks. On September 6, 2016, TOI was the first to expose the shocking conditions in which the ‘potable water’ was being stored and transported. The units were running without licenses from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) or Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which are mandatory for selling packaged drinking water.
The ministry of health and family welfare, through a notification issued on November 15, 2016, has made it mandatory to sell packaged drinking water in sealed containers. Following this, Kamble issued directions for inspecting all such units in the entire state.
On the other hand, members of RO chilled water manufacturers welfare association recently staged a protest under the leadership of youth Congress leader Bunty Shelke. Stating that many women and handicapped people are running these units for livelihood, they demanded allotment of licenses by FDA.

Mangoes seized

Officials of the Food Safety and Drug Administration Department seized nearly Rs. 1 lakh worth of artificially ripened mangoes, rotten fruits, and soft drinks which jumped the expiry date from various shops and storage yards near Palladam here on Friday.
Sources said that the mangoes were artificially ripened by spraying chemicals over it.

Vendors selling tap water in government hospitals caught

Chennai: The state’s health department may be on their toes to keep infections, especially stomach-related ailments, at bay in the time of drought, but their own backyards lie unattended as government hospitals bristle with vendors selling unhygienic water. On Thursday, two vendors were caught at the women and children’s hospital in Egmore selling, what is suspected to be, tap water in bottles.
Based on a tip-off, Tamil Nadu food safety department officials undertook an inspection at the Institute of Child Health and Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and found the vendors selling water from soiled containers with no label. “When we questioned them, they said they had bought it from a dealer nearby for Rs40,” said an official who was part of the inspection team. The team tracked the dealer and found that he wasn’t attached to a licensed manufacturer. “The dealer procures bubble-top cans and fills them with water. The vendors too keep refilling,” said the official, adding 41 of them were seized. They suspect the cans were filled with tap water and sold for Rs8 a bottle.
Dr Raghunathan, resident medical officer at ICH, said vendors usually stand at the hospital gates selling water and food items. “They wait for doctors to leave for the day to enter the premises,” he said, adding the hospital had repeatedly complained to the police and corporation to remove these hawkers. When asked if the hospital had sufficient drinking water for patients and attendants, he said it had two reverse osmosis drinking water units, and more are in the process of being set up. Patients, however, said on most days these taps ran dry, a claim supported by senior doctors. “You can’t blame the hospital for this. We buy water from Metrowater. Sometimes we have to wait longer for it to come. Water is rationed when that happens,” said a senior doctor, not willing to be named.
R Kathiravan, designated officer, Tamil Nadu food safety department, Chennai, said the health department would undertake inspections at hospitals and evict vendors. The department seized nearly 115 soiled or unlabelled cans from various parts of the city.

Apply online for food safety licences

Business operators can apply for food safety licences online or through e-service centres.
According to a Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department press release operators can apply for licences on or through the e-service centres.
Public can lodge complaints about food products at the WhatsApp number, 94440 42322, a press release said.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India officials inspect bubble-top drinking water cans
According to officials, with summer hitting its peak and the city facing a water shortage, many unlicensed packaged water manufacturing companies have started exploiting the situation to make a fast buck. 
To check this, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had been inspecting trucks carrying bubble-top water cans.
Speaking to DTNext, R Kathiravan, Designated Officer, FSSAI, Chennai, said that his body had formed four teams to inspect canned water in various parts of the city. “Accordingly, a team of food safety officials near Koyambedu intercepted around 15 vehicles. Most of these cans were found unfit for consumption,” he said. In a particular case, the officials found no labels on 60 cans of water. They confiscated 31 such cans, which were unfit for consumption, Kathiravan said. Moreover, a total of 74 bubble-top water cans had labels, but there was no manufacturing date, he added. 
When asked about the punishment, an official said, “As of now, we are creating awareness. Henceforth, we will file cases against the manufacturing companies and impose fines ranging from two to three lakh.” 
It may be recalled that a few days ago, the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) officials had seized a total of 149 cans and 7,181 sachets of drinking water which were unfit for consumption.

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