Food Safety Enforcement News – India Updates – July-30th – 2017

GENERAL

FSSAI seeks to revise norms for restaurants

NEW DELHI, JULY 27: 
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) , which has been pushing various initiatives for safe and nutritious food, is looking to make changes in the licensing conditions for restaurants.
So far, food business operators were mandatorily required to display the FSSAI licence number at food premises, especially in restaurants. The Authority felt that the number is not visible to the consumers.
Food safety display boards
To change consumer perceptibility about it, FSSAI has been pushing the idea of Food Safety Display Boards at various food businesses especially restaurants , retail stores, milk booths, vegetable and fruit retail, meat shops, street food vendors, among others.
Food Safety Display Boards will primarily display food safety and hygiene practices to be followed by these food businesses at their premises prominently, according to the FSSAI website. The Authority has now released a draft notification proposing revision of conditions of licences which proposes to replace the existing requirement of displaying FSSAI licence number with Food Safety Display Board. The FSSAI believes that these display boards will not only make registration/licence number visible but will also inform the customer and the food handler about the important food safety and hygiene practices required to keep food safe. It also believes these display boards will help in enabling a more effective consumer feedback.
Raw materials purchase 
In addition, it has proposed that restaurants should at least have one technical person or food safety supervisor trained by FSSAI, in their staff, as one of the conditions that need to be fulfilled for FSSAI licence. It has sought feedback from various stakeholders on these proposed changes. The Authority has been holding various sessions to train food business operators.
Other new conditions being proposed for restaurants include buying food raw materials only from licensed or registered vendors and maintaining a record of these purchases. Besides, it has proposed that restaurant and other food sales should indicate or mark exclusive desi ghee items and vanaspati, oil or other fats used in preparation of items.

FSSAI proposes pictorial warning on liquor bottles

As drunk driving results in thousands of deaths every year, the food regulator is toying with the idea of introducing pictorial warning on liquor bottles to make people aware of the consequences.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has received a set of four pictorial warnings from an NGO, Community Against Drunken Driving, which had petitioned the Delhi High Court seeking the judiciary’s intervention to make the warnings mandatory.

In May, the high court ruled that the issue was in the “realm of policy making and beyond the jurisdiction of the court.”

But it asked the FSSAI to consider the two petitions as “suggestions” to review the entire gamut of issues on the introduction of pictorial warning on liquor bottles.

India’s food regulator should learn from middle-income countries: Report

India needs to look beyond food regulations in the US and learn from the middle income countries, such as Vietnam, New Zealand, China, and the UK, a report on FSSAI
FSSAI, which came in the limelight in June 2015 for cracking down on Nestle India, mainly follows the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to set standards and rules regarding food safety. 
New Delhi: To ensure safe food across the country, India needs to look beyond food regulations in the United States and learn from the middle income countries, like Vietnam, New Zealand, China, Netherlands and the UK, Donald Macrae, senior consultant on regulatory reform, World Bank Group, said in a report on the country’s food regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
Macrae’s report was based on FSSAI’s request to the Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP), a public-private initiative of the World Bank Group, to advise it on international engagements.
“Most of its (FSSAI’s) partnerships have been with developed countries but it has much to learn from other middle income countries that are facing similar issues at present or have faced them recently and moved through them,” Macrae said in the report.
With an engagement with Vietnam, FSSAI can learn impact of slow urbanisation and how to deal with rural population (close to 70% India’s population still live in rural areas), and how to establish surveillance plans for sampling nationwide among others, the report noted.
From China, it could learn how to deal with scaling up operations that covers 1.3 billion people, risk assessment, adaptation of modern systems and seamless co-ordination between the centre, states and the municipalities, Macrae said.

According to Macrae, FSSAI should follow the United Kingdom for regulatory delivery, regulating the ‘meta-market’, third party certification, risk-based inspection and planning, consumer focus and trust. The Indian food regulator should learn risk communication and compliance support from Netherlands and New Zealand respectively, he added.

FSSAI, which came in the limelight in June 2015 for cracking down on Nestle India Ltd after the Swiss food-maker’s popular snack Maggi instant noodles were suspected to contain fragrance enhancer monosodium glutamate and excess lead, mainly follows the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to set standards and rules regarding food safety.
“For FSSAI, the regulatory objective is to ensure a supply of safe and wholesome food, not to ensure a revenue stream of fines for violations. Punishing those who do not comply because of capacity issues does not solve their capacity issues or deliver safe and wholesome food,” Macrae said in an emailed response to Mint queries.
According to Macrae, under Pawan Kumar Agarwal, the current chief executive officer of FSSAI, the regulator is focusing on the new approach of “supporting those willing to comply, in order that their challenges in complying are overcome and they then deliver safe and wholesome food”. “This focus is in line with what is happening across the world and FSSAI is being truly innovative in tackling this new approach,” added Macrae.
Agarwal could not be reached for comments.
RAILWAYS

5,403 food samples checked from 2014-17: Railways

On a day the Indian Railways came under fire over serving a dead lizard in one of its meals, the ministry said that 5,403 food samples were checked in the last three years. 
In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Railways, Rajen Gohain said that “regular inspections are done by food safety officials” to maintain the quality of food served on trains and railway stations. 
“Regular inspections are done by food safety officers and joint food safety commissioners. Food samples are collected and sent for analysis in accredited laboratories under the Food Safety and Standards Act by food safety officers. Surprise checks and special drives are also carried out by joint food safety commissioners,” he said. 
The minister informed the House that from 2014-15 to 2016-2017, 4,828 food samples were checked, while 575 samples were scrutinised in the current financial year of 2017-18 (up to June 2017). 
In reply to a separate question, Gohain informed the House that the railways had received 27,782 complaints relating to catering services during the same period (2014-17), with 648 of them about lack of hygiene. 
The national transporter serves a record 11 lakh meals a day. 
The railways had received a slew of complaints last year regarding the quality of food served on trains, forcing the ministry to bring out a revised catering policy. 
Railway Board Member (Traffic) Mohd Jamshed today said that catering services in all trains with pantry cars will now be handed over to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) by the year-end to improve food quality.
ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS

Contraband tobacco seized from Garacharma, jetty at M’bunder

Port Blair
On a specific inputs on sales of contraband tobacco products in Garacharma area on Wednesday, the District Food Safety Officer, South Andaman along with Food Safety Officers immediately reached the premise of Lalit Debnath, Prop. of Lalit Debnath Pan and Tea Stall and recovered seven tins of sealed and one tin of loose Shiv data zarda each tin of 45 gm and 11 pouches of Bagbhan zarda of 40 gm each. The shop was immediately sealed and the contraband products seized and taken into possession and carried to office for further legal action.
Meanwhile, as per the report received from the Additional Commissioner(Food Safety)/Deputy Commissioner (North & Middle Andaman), the ship MV Nicobar on arrival at Mayabunder Wharf on Tuesday off loaded bulk cargo at Mayabunder, the Food Safety officials on their inspection for contraband tobacco products were inspecting the cargo on Wednesday and found 119 kgs of processed tobacco from the possession of Pulak Paul, son of Mr Nikhil Paul, Ward No. 2, Subash Gram, Diglipur, who is the clearing agent of the cargo unloaded at Mayabunder. The processed tobacco products were immediately seized and taken into possession. Necessary actions are being taken under the relevant rules of Food Safety & Standards Act 2006.

AP / TELENGANA

Violations of Food Safety Act mushroom in Krishna district

Vijayawada: The food safety department has booked over 255 cases in Krishna district for selling food products in violation of the Food Safety and Standards Act in the last year. Of these, 105 cases were booked for selling unsafe food products – an offence that is punishable by up to seven years in jail along with a fine of Rs 10 lakh.

Officials are about to launch prosecution proceedings in about 40 cases, it is learnt.

About 60 cases were slapped on fruit vendors for using carbide and other unsafe products to speed up the ripening of fruits. Though the usage of carbide to ripen mangoes was prohibited by the government, it is still being used heavily by wholesale fruit vendors. Apart from mangoes, carbide is being used to ripen oranges and papaya as well. Ethephon, a chemical used to regulate plant growth, is being used to ripen bananas.

Food safety officials have found a new type of product in the name of ethylene powder that was widely used across the state this season. Samples collected by sleuths of the food safety department were found to contain the ethylene powder, which was deemed to be unsafe.

Assistant controller of food safety, N Purnachandra Rao, said ethylene can only be available in liquid form. “We have booked cases against those who have used the unknown powder sachets that are mainly imported from China in the name of ethylene powder,” he said. 

In the case of grapes, excess amount of pesticide residue was found to be higher than permissible levels. Waxing apples to preserve them for a long period of time is also a rampant practice, said Purnachandra Rao. Though the use of bee wax is permitted, vendors are using wax derived from petroleum products which will lead to intestinal disorders, he said.

As many as 10 hotels, 10 sweet shops and six manufacturers of child food were booked for using prohibited colours. Pulses and oils were seized for having adulterated content. While the oils and ghee are being adulterated with vanaspati and palm oil, pulses are being coated with artificial colours to give them a shining appearance.

Fruits that are artificially ripened using carbide are overly soft, and are also inferior in taste and flavour. They also have a shorter shelf life. When carbide is used in very raw fruits, the amount of the chemical needed to ripen the fruit has to be increased. This results in the fruit becoming even more tasteless, unhealthy and possibly toxic.

CHANDIGARH

FDA PROHIBITS MIXING OF LIQUID NITROGEN WITH DRINKS, FOOD ITEMS

Chandigarh, July 27
The Food and Drug Administration today prohibited flushing or mixing of liquid nitrogen gas with any drink or food article. The order comes after a recent incident where a man was left with a gaping hole in stomach after he consumed an alcoholic drink topped with liquid nitrogen in Gurugram.
Dr Saket Kumar, Commissioner (Food Safety) in the FDA, Haryana, In his orders issued today under section 34 of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, has cited an expert medical opinion as the reason for the ban.
“Any food article the preparation of which involves flushing or mixing of liquid nitrogen is harmful for humans, as due to low temperature liquid nitrogen can be extremely damaging to body tissues, causing frostbite and cryogenic burning on contact,” the orders said.
“If ingested, the gas can lead to severe internal damage, destroying tissues in the mouth and intestinal tract. Furthermore, as it evaporates, liquid nitrogen releases a large volume of gas, which means it can burst the stomach if ingested in sufficiently large quantities,” the order further said.
A 30-year man from Delhi was recently rushed to a hospital in Gurugram after he drank liquid nitrogen hoping it would make him high, but it had left a hole in his stomach.
Narinder Ahooja, Joint Commissioner, FDA, explained that Liquid nitrogen is used to instantly freeze food and drinks, since it has a very low temperature of minus 196 degree Celsius.
Being an inert gas, it does not cause any poisonous effect on the human body.
“However, with an expansion ratio of 1:694 at 20 degree Celsius, one litre of the liquid gas can expand to 694 litres at 20 degrees causing the stomach to burst,” he said.
Ahooja said that after the incident that occurred earlier this month, teams of FDA had raided various bars and pubs to see if they were using liquid nitrogen for instant cooling and considering the harmful effects it can have, the flushing or mixing of food with liquid nitrogen gas has been banned today.

HARYANA

Steroid check: FDA collects protein supplements

GURUGRAM: The district authorities are tightening noose around those illegally recommending or selling the food supplements. Raids were conducted on gymnasiums in Gurugram, and samples have been collected by the officials.
On Monday, officials from district Food and Drug Administration and district Food Safety Officer KK Sharma raided the gyms in the city. The raids were conducted on the directions of State Drugs Controller and Joint Commissioner, Food, Haryana.
The officials investigated three gyms — Gold Gym and The Hype on MG Road and Energy Gym in Judicial Complex. Also, a shop selling the dietary supplements – Vardhman Nutrition in sector 14 was raided too.
None of the Gyms were found to be selling any form of food supplement. However, the Gold Gym was found to be serving the protein supplement without any licence. The officials recovered one open box of the protein supplement at the spot. The Pro 07-Muscle Blaze contained around 600 gms of the protein sample.
At Vardhman Nutrition, the drug control officer collected three samples, and the Food Safety Officer collected two samples.
“The raids are being conducted to check for use of any adulteration on food part, or use of any steroidal drug in such food supplements. We have sent the samples for tests,” said Amandeep Chaudan, district drug control officer.

KARNATAKA

Focus on food safety, health officers told

Pointing out the loopholes in maintaining food safety measures, Deputy Commissioner H.R. Mahadev has directed health officers to pay adequate attention to the issue. He was presiding over a meeting of District Coordination Committee on Food Safety at his office here on Monday.

Shivashankar, Food Safety Officer, told the meeting that 314 of the 1,473 food outlets in Bidar taluk and 68 of the 825 outlets in Bhalki were registered.
Mr. Mahadev directed the officers to complete registration in all taluks. He asked the officers to speed up registrations in Humnabad, Basavakalyan and Aurad taluks that were far behind in the task.
The officers told the meeting that they had obtained nine unsafe food samples and imposed a fine of Rs. 92,000 on the outlets that had violated norms. They also said that taluk level squads were formed to monitor the implementation of food safety norms.
Tahsildars from different taluks, District Health and Family Welfare officer M.M. Jabbar, officers Anil Chinthamani, Indumathi Patil, Mallikarjun and D.S. Hawaldar and others were present.

THE RICE AND FALL OF ‘PLASTIC’

After rigorous testing, Centre dismisses reports of plastic rice and egg; calls it a case of adulteration
In an attempt to put an end to the long-drawn debate on “fake” eggs and rice, the Centre has stepped in. Now, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, after testing samples from across the country, has concluded that there is no such thing as ‘plastic’ rice. It all boils down to adulteration.
The department of food and public distribution had collected samples from 29 states and 7 Union territories in the country and a total of 39,284 samples were analysed. The conclusion was that there was no plastic rice and the department stated that it was actually just poor quality rice.
CR Chaudhury, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public distribution, said: “While plastic rice rumours were doing the rounds on social media, the matter was taken up with the Kerala and Gujarat governments on the basis of an International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) alert. The governments concerned have confirmed that there has been no such reports in their respective states. “
Random sampling was done and from Karnataka, 2,837 samples were received for testing and analysis. It was found that 341 samples were adulterated and the remaining proved that it was low quality rice. The department has launched 26 criminal cases and 112 civil cases on manufacturers and penalized them too. 112 manufacturers have been penalized and penalties totalling Rs. 21,95,900 were received. The sampling and testing was done by officials of the Food safety departments of the respective states to check compliance of standards laid down under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, Rules and Regulations.
Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, YG Shadakshari, Director of Research, University of Agricultural Sciences, said, “It is very expensive to manufacture plastic rice. It is so expensive that it is not possible at all. I really wonder how these rumours came up. As per our testing based on samples received by Bangalore Mirror, we found it was only low quality rice. The government needs to probe whether adulteration is the main cause of all these plastic rumours.” While the testing was headed by Prof KV Jamuna, UAS, she said, “When we did detailed research and testing, it was found out that this is totally a case of low quality rice. What residents of the city found was rice that had expired was being sold. Otherwise, something like ‘plastic’ is a bizarre thing to make.”
No fake eggs either
Another grave issue that was making rounds on social media was ‘plastic’ eggs. Dr Murthy, Dean of the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Science University, who did a complete test on eggs and said they were ‘rotten’ and ‘spoiled’.
KERALA
Street food vendors keep health squad on toes

One of the unhygienic eateries which was removed by a special squad in Thripunithura recently. 
Need to create hygienic space for business stressed
The street food vendors continue to keep the health squads on their toes as they appear again at the same place from where they were removed for allegedly vending unhygienic food.
The district administration’s squads, with the support of local bodies, are active in the city and the surrounding municipalities. It is the local body concerned that should take a call on the street vending on government land. However, no local body is ready to give space for the street vendors in the time of communicable diseases that is keeping the health authorities on the look out for anything that could be a public health hazard.
District Food Safety Officer, Ernakulam, K.V. Shibu told The Hindu that food safety laws promote hygienic street food vending and any person who promises to vend food in safe and hygienic manner cannot be denied licence.
However, the municipal rules do not allow the civic authorities to permit people to use roadsides or other government land to set up even temporary stalls.
According to food safety rules, street food vending is permitted with certain conditions.
The local bodies need to accommodate the street food vendors by creating hygienic space and give them licence to do business. There had never been a serious effort in settling the issues of the street vendors.
Street food vending is popular on the highways where there is more truck movement and at places where people are working night shifts.
Kalamassery, Seaport-Airport Road, and Thripunithura are some of the places where street food vending has become more popular.
NAGALAND

EAC Chumu directs food business dealers

 
EAC cum Administrator Chumukedima Town Council Thejavizo Nakhro has directed all concerned food business dealers viz., hotels, restaurants, bakeries etc operating under CTC jurisdiction to register and obtain FSSAI license under Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006 from the office of the CMO, Dimapur at the earliest. 
He also warned that non-compliance of the order shall invite penal actions as per Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 and Nagaland Municipal Act 2001.
PUNJAB

FSDA conducts raids at restaurants, dairies in Meerut, seizes 600 kg vegetable sauce

Meerut: To keep a check on adulteration in milk ahead of Raksha Bandhan, the Food Safety and Drugs Administration (FSDA) on Wednesday conducted raids at various city restaurants, sweet shops and dairies.
The FSDA seized 600 kg of suspected adulterated vegetable sauce, milk samples from nine outlets and a sample each of vegetable sauce, chilli sauce and white vinegar.
FSDA officer Archana Deeran said, “We took 12 samples from different locations on Wednesday and we suspect that these are unfit for consumption.”
FSDA’s seven-member team raided 12 shops at Jail Chungi area, Partapur, Delhi Chungi, Kankerkhera and Gesupur Datawli. The sealed samples have been sent to the Lucknow laboratory to avoid any tampering in the city. The reports will take at least a month to arrive and accordingly action will be taken.
“The sauce that has been seized will remain in our custody until the reports arrive. If the sample fails the lab test, it will be destroyed and a case will be registered against the accused,” Deeran said, adding that with Raksha bandhan around the corner, shopkeepers start tampering with milk-based products.
The raids will continue till celebrations are over so that sweet shop owners are alert.

TAMILNADU

200 kg rotten meat seized in Kovilpatti

 
More than 200 kilograms of rotten meat had been seized by officials attached to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) at Kovilpatti in Thoothukudi district, on Wednesday.
Officials carrying out the drive at a shop in Kovilpatti
Madurai: 
Thoothukudi district administration had recently received complaints of rotten meat being sold at Kovilpatti and hence based on the direction of district administration FSSAI officials led by Designated officer, Thanga Vignesh, carried out surprise inspection at the meat shops at Kovilpatti market, at Kadalaiyur and Ettayapuram roads. 
All the meat shops including chicken, mutton and fish shops were raided and in the raid, rotten meats were found in 18 shops. The meats weighing around 200 kilograms were seized by the officials. 
The names of the shops were noted down and the meal sellers were warned of strict action if they repeated such incidents again. Following that, Thanga Vignesh informed the media that the meat when it is cut out of the animals would be fresh only a for few hours and they should be sold immediately. 
If they were kept for one single day they would become unfit for human consumption. But the meat in the shops were kept for more than two days and also they were not preserved properly. They have received several complaints from Kovilpatti that rotten meat was sold and hence, they raided and seized meat around Rs 1 lakh. The seized meat would be destroyed, said Vignesh. 
When asked about the action taken on the meat, traders selling rotten meat he replied that it is the first time that such a seizure had happened and hence they were warned of strict action if they were found selling the rotten meat again.

Gutka seized

Gutka seized from a godown in Indra Nagar in Erode on Monday.
Food safety officials carried out raids at various parts of Erode
Officials of the Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department raided a godown in the city and seized banned gutka items worth Rs. 7 lakh here on Monday.
A 15-member team led by Designated Officer T. Kalaivani along with food safety inspectors and officials, divided into three teams, carried out inspection at tea shops and petty shops in the city.
The drive is to mainly focus on seizing the banned gutka items that were being sold. The team found Rs. 6,000 worth gutka items at shops in bus stand area and Rs. 10,000 worth gutka items at shops near market area. Inquiries revealed that they were supplied the banned items from godown in Indira Nagar.
Officials raided the godown belonging to Yogesh (32) and found 83 bundles of gutka items worth Rs. 7 lakh. Inquiries revealed that the banned item was distributed to retail shops from the godown. Officials seized the items and sealed the godown. A complaint was lodged with Karungalpalayam police who are conducting inquiry.
UTTAR PRADESH

Chemically treated ‘parwal’ seized in Kheri district

Shahjahanpur: In a raid conducted by the food safety team and Singahi police, seized about 15 kg of “parwal” (pointed goard) that had been chemically treated to look fresh and green at Takiyapurva village of Lakhimpur Kheri district on Thursday morning. The chemicals are harmful for consumption.
While the accused managed to flee from the spot, police recovered a motorbike which belongs to one of the accused. The vegetable sample will be sent to the lab for testing. The chemical used for colouring the vegetables is suspected to be copper sulphate. Police seized it as well.
After a tip-off received by the food safety department that green vegetables were being treated with chemicals before being supplied to the market by a local supplier, food safety officer Rakesh Kumar Singh conducted a raid with the help of the station officer of Singahi police station.
Station officer of Singahi police station Ram Kumar Yadav said, “We have seized a bike from the spot, the owner of which is the prime suspect in this case. The vegetables will be sent for testing and further action will be taken iafter we receive the test results.
“Vegetables are immersed in a solution prepared by mixing water and the chemical to give them a fresh and green look. We are looking for the owner of the godown. and the others who managed to flee when we arrived,” added Singh.
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