A decade after India introduced a single nationwide law – the Food Safety and Standards Act – to maintain uniform standards for food items in the country, the authority that implements the law, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has come out with a comprehensive plan to make it work, in letter and spirit.
It has developed a uniform operational manual for its field official, launched an IT platform to do digital inspections and a nationwide network of all food testing labs on a single technology platform, Indian Food Laboratory Network (InFoLNet), in Delhi.
While the single nationwide manual for Food Safety Officers (FSOs) is expected to help them follow uniform practices and procedures across the country, the leverage of digital and smart technologies is meant to bring an end to arbitrariness and adhocism in inspections and sampling. The new digital platform, Food Safety Compliance through Regular Inspections and Sampling (FoSCoRIS), replaces manual inspections with digital inspections. It uses simple mobile devices with dashboards to monitor, on real-time basis, at the district, state and national level. For consistency, standard matrices have been developed for inspection of various kinds of food businesses. FoSCoRIS is to ensure a consistent experience to food businesses across States and UTs, thereby building their confidence in the regulatory environment, an FSSAI statement said.
For credible and efficient food testing for food businesses, a nationwide network of all food testing labs on a single technology platform, Indian Food Laboratory Network (InFoLNet), has also been launched. This would bring in much desired standardisation in food testing, that is ‘one food product, one set of parameters and one parameter one test method’, the agency said. Several measures towards trade facilitation, including a single window clearance fully integrated with Custom Authorities and risk-based inspection, have been adopted. To ensure hassle free imports, a ‘Manual for Food Imports’ has also been developed.
All these tools are part of the Food Regulatory Portal, a full service, business-friendly portal for food businesses that focuses on six key areas viz. food standards; consistent enforcement; hassle free food imports; credible food testing; codified food safety practices; and training and capacity building. “This would prove to be a game changer by addressing food business concerns across the spectrum by ensuring ease of entry; reduced burden of compliance and facilitating trade”, FSSAI says.
To ensure consistency and predictability of business environment, a nationwide uniform law, the Food Safety and Standards Act was enacted in 2006. While this law had envisioned a single reference point for laws on food across the nation, its implementation across the States & UTs has not always been uniform due to legacy issues, leading to business uncertainties. Further, even at the national level, a few specific issues continue to be looked after by different ministries / agencies such as legal metrology, customs, plant and animal quarantine, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and AGMARK. The launch of the Food Regulatory Portal is thus a major development, as it creates a robust environment for uniform implementation of the law across States / UTs and coordinated approach across central agencies, leading to a transparent and enabling business environment, FSSAI states.
While FSSAI is the principal regulatory body for food, six other agencies are also involved for specific purposes. To ensure a single point of references for all food related business compliances, the Food Regulatory Portal also has compiled related information and links to other national agencies in the food safety ecosystem such as Legal Metrology, Customs, Plant and Animal Quarantine, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and AGMARK. An institutional mechanism for interagency coordination and cooperation and integrated grievance redressal is also on the anvil, the statement said.
FSSAI plans ‘ one nation , one food safety law’
Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
New Delhi: The concept of ‘one-nation, one-tax’ behind the goods and services tax (GST) implemented across the country seems to be influencing other organisations. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s apex food regulator, is working on a ‘one-nation, one-food-safety-law’ so that every state-level food authority follows a standard practice for the implementation, compliance and surveillance of food safety regulations, which in turn will ensure smoother operations for food companies.
“The law has always been same for everyone. But there have been consistency issues at state level. Also, we need to standardize food testing laboratories. With ‘one-nation, one-food-safety-law’, we will be able to remove those and make things more transparent,” said Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI.
Under the ‘one-nation, one food-safety-law’ regime, state-level food safety officers will have to follow a 10-point code-of-ethics set by FSSAI. “At present, there is no such thing, and food safety officers across states do things the way they think best. This should not be the practice. We need to standardize this,” said Agarwal.
Under the regime, FSSAI wants to erase discrepancies in food safety regulations across states, and standardize surveillance, sampling and inspection. “This is to enable states with good practices,” said Agarwal. Under the new regime, inspection and sampling will be monitored as everything will be “on the cloud” as part of the agenda to increase transparency, he added.
To bring consistency in food testing, FSSAI is introducing guidelines that food testing laboratories will have to abide by. Under the draft norms, laboratories will have to come under the Indian Food Laboratory Network (InFoLNet), a digital solution to connect all food labs in India to a centralised lab management system.
So far, 154 laboratories have listed on InFoLNet. FSSAI has made this compulsory for all FSSAI-notified laboratories. With this, details of all tests and the results will be available on this platform.
“In the past, there have been questions regarding authenticity of tests done by certain laboratories. Besides upgrading the laboratories, InFoLNet will abolish the discrepancies and ensure transparency,” said Agarwal.
The regulator, which owns and operates two laboratories and has approved 82 others in various states, allocated Rs482 crore earlier this year to strengthen the food testing infrastructure, including upgrading and modernizing laboratories. Besides, FSSAI will also set up 62 mobile testing labs. There are currently four mobile food testing labs in Punjab, Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
In 2015, FSSAI questioned safety standards of Swiss packaged food company Nestle India Ltd’s Maggi instant noodles based on reports by one of its testing laboratories in Kolkata, prompting questions about the capacity and state of the laboratory.
Under the new regime, the food regulator also wants to abolish intervention of multiple agencies for things such as import of food products. Going forward, there will be a single standard for every authority.
J & K
Five food business operators were fined Rs 55,000 for selling and processing food items in unsanitary conditions in this summer capital, Srinagar.
An official spokesperson here on Wednesday evening said that the court of Adjudicating Officer (Additional Deputy Commissioner Srinagar) imposed a fine of Rs 55,000 on five Food Business Operators, including three restaurants and a milk vendor, in Srinagar.
Meanwhile, he said the Food Safety wing of Drugs and Food Control organization presented 117 more cases before the competent court for adjudication.
“The Additional Deputy Commissioner Food Safety has warned the Chicken sellers, Bakers, Meat sellers to maintain high standards of hygiene otherwise action under relevant provisions of Food Safety & Standards Act shall be initiated against them,” he added.
He said a market checking team headed by Assistant Controller, Legal Meteorology conducted market checking at main market Bandipora, Sumbal and S K Bala.
During the checking, he said 25 traders were booked for violating Legal Meteorology laws. “A fine of Rs 9990 was also realized from the erring traders,” he said.
During the checking, he said general public especially shopkeepers were given awareness regarding Consumer Rights and Legal Meteorology.
It was based on 25 complaints in Sept.
With a bevy of complaints reaching the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Food Safety Commissionerate officials raided more than 10 meat shops in HSR Layout on Wednesday and directed shopkeepers to follow hygiene norms or else face closure.
- Over 10 meat shops raided
- Shopkeepers directed to follow hygiene norms or else face closure
- Authorities found alleged violations pertaining to storage and culling
The raids were based on 25 complaints filed by animal rights activists in September. The shops had violated food safety norms, and were found to be illegal and unhygienically selling meat, according to the authorities. “We have given them 15 days to respond to the notice, after which they will be closed,” said a local officer of the commissionerate, which found that the meat was exposed to dust and smoke spewed by vehicles.
While the authorities could find alleged violations pertaining to storage and culling, the quality of the meat could not be tested. The reason: it takes ₹5,000 to test just one sample of meat — a budget the commissionerate does not have.
On Thursday, officials hope to raise the issue with the Health Ministry and seek an exemption in rates that would allow for more testing. “Currently, all meat samples have to be sent to our laboratory in Hyderabad. The cost comes up to around ₹5,800 per sample, and it is too expensive to do it for all complaints received,” said Harshavardhan B., Joint Commissioner of Food Safety in Karnataka.
The cost prohibition was not limited to meat. A few months ago, the department was flooded with more than 500 samples of ‘contaminated’ eggs and rice, where plastic pellets were suspected to have been used to dilute the quality. However, the department could only manage to send 12 samples for testing. The lack of testing methods has seen officials resort to the rudimentary taste test.
‘A welcome step’
Varda Mehrotra, director of the National Federation for Animal Protection, said any sort of action from authorities was a welcome step. The BBMP and the Food Safety Commissionerate have taken serious note of the complaints and we hope the lives of animals and human beings alike would become better with increased regulation of meat shops, he said in a press release.
Food Safety and Standard Act 2006 (FSSA)
Civil Rights & Duties awareness campaigner
There is a saying “Health is Wealth” and any carelessness which may cause food poisoning or any problem like this may lead to a very fatal consequences. So, it becomes essential to take necessary food safety measure. ‘Food safety’ means assurance that food is acceptable for human consumption. Food safety management means the adoption of good manufacturing practice, good hygienic practices, hazard analysis and critical control point and such other practices as may be specified by the regulation of food business. We as human being depend on food for our survival and we are to be aware of the food quality and the standard of food that we consume in our day to day life. Earlier food adulteration was the only concern of food safety and standard, however with the arrival of better technology and with the advancement in the standard of living numerous problems and concerns arose regarding food safety and standard in our country. So the Central government for solving all problems relating to food enacted the ‘Food Safety and Standard Act 2006’. For better management of the Act, the Central government formed an authority by the name Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI).
The W.H.O in its latest data available, revealed that 3,51,000 people die of food poisoning globally every year and at least 582 million cases of different food-borne diseases are experienced worldwide every year. Food is the basic need of all living beings and we eat food to survive and develop our physical wellbeing. So it is our basic right to a healthy, safe and nutritious food. Population explosion is one of the reasons for the use of such excessive insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers in order to boost up the production to meet the needs of the overwhelming demand for food, this use of chemical is adversely effecting our health. Sometime the availability of fast foods, packed foods and other cheap foods is harmful for our health. Some of the mal-practises commonly found are; using harmful chemicals to enhance flavour in sweets, fruits, juices, etc, using chemical to artificially ripen fruits, using wax on apples to make it look fresh, using mono sodium, ajinomootoo in chows, momos, and other Chinese and Burmese noodles affects our bones, etc, mixing brick powder to chilli powder, adulteration of milk with excessive water, use of detergent or bleaching powder to increase quantity, serving of fast foods in open food stalls such as samosas, jeelibees, pokara, puri, etc in newspapers or magazines which contains black carbon ink, etc. Some of these unhygienic and unsafe practices can lead to serious health issues and problems such as kidney failure, lung cancers, gastric problems, stomach aches and also affect our organs such as the gall bladder, liver, intestines and also cause other ailments related to mental health, abnormal hormonal growth or releases that could change our appetite and may to depression. We came across several cases of serious food poisoning such as; 23 students died in Bihar after eating mid-day meal and dozens more were hospitalized on 16th July 2013, 45 students of Madrasa fell ill due to suspected food poisoning on 16th March 2016, 69 students were hospitalised due to food poisoning at Himachal Pradesh, Shimla on 22nd April 2017.
The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India(FSSAI) was established in order to check the issue of food safety and standard with the aim and objective to lay down science based standards for articles of food, to regulate manufacturing, storage, distribution, sale and import of food to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption and for matters connected therewith. Some of the salient features of Food Safety & Standard Act are; to ensure that all food meets consumers expectations in terms of nature, substance and quality, to provide legal powers and specify offences in relation to public health and consumers interest. Section 16 of the Act laid down the functions of Authority such as; to specify standard guidelines for food articles, to specify food labelling standards including claims on health, nutrition, special dietary uses and food category systems, scientific advice and technical support to central and state government, etc. Every state must have a designated officer and some of its responsibilities are; designated officer has the power to issue or cancel license of food business operators, prohibit sale in contravention of this Act, receive report and samples of articles of food from food safety officer and get them analyzed, taking samples of the food intended for sale, he can seize any articles of food which appears to be in contravention of this Act, he can enter and inspect any place where food is manufactured or stored for sale. Some of the offences are; causing food to be injurious, abstracting any constituent, deliberate adlteration, non-conformance in label information, etc. Some of the penalties are; sub-standards food will be fined up to Rs.2 lakhs, misbranded food will be fined up to Ts.3 lakhs, unhygienic preparations of food will be fined up to rs.1 lakh. Under Section 63 of FSSA 2006, if any person or food business operator carrying out a business without license is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months and also with a fine which may extend to five Lakh rupees. A person is also punishable with a fine of 10 lakhs rupees for misleading advertisement, falsely describing quality of food or give false guarantee to the consumers. Slaughterhouse should have proper hygiene and maintenance instruments and to be regularly checked by the medical concern doctor and thereafter it should be given to the slaughter house for human consumption. Under the Consumer Protection Act 1986, the consumers have the right to safety, they are protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life, and therefore, the goods which are hazardous to health is illegal and punishable.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare governs the FS&SAI. FS&SAI governs all food business operators in the country and has entrusted the powers at various levels to other designated authorities. In Nagaland, the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, rules and regulations 2011 is being implemented in the State from 2012. The Food Safety Officer must be appointed as an independent charge as per the Act and should checked all the Food Business Operators which includes Hotels, restaurants, canteens, tea stall, bakeries, street food vendors etc in all the respective district. With the enforcement of this Act in Nagaland, any person in practice of selling of food products are required to have a license to sell such goods and the license is to be given by the Chief medical Officer. There are times where the FS&SAI has asked the Food Commissioner in the state to inspect and evaluate in the market and had suggested that the state food safety commissioners should prepare their line for action and collect samples of all the packaged products, even those which are not registered with FS&SAI and also told to take action if required. The Chief Medical Officer and designated officers Kohima have informed all hotels, restaurants, provisions, groceries, home based canteens of schools, colleges, office, etc to obtain food safety license/registration from the Chief Medical Officer office, Kohima and in order to avoid penalisation as per the food safety and standards act rules and regulations and newly established food business operators have also been directed to obtain the license/registration.
Odisha forms Steering Committee to implement FSSAI guidelines
The Health & Family Welfare Department in Odisha has decided to form State and District level steering committees to FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) guidelines. The state-level committee will be headed by Chief Secretary. It will have 7 other members, including the Secretaries of Panchayat raj, Urban Development and Health departments. State Food Safety Commissioner will be the convener of the committee. At the district level, Collectors will head the committees. The six-member committees will also have the CDMO of respective districts.
Lucknow: The famous Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his popular brand Patanjali today landed in trouble after one of its product has been found not up to the mark by the officials of Food department in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki district.
According to Pediatrician District Hospital Barabanki, Dr S.K Singh says that this product has proved failure in investigation, after which a penalty has been imposed on company and on shopkeeper who was selling this famous product.
Basically, food department in its report mentioned that one of Patanjali’s product has been found below standard and some harmful content has been found in double quantity from its required amount.
The Chief Food Inspector Barabanki said that incident of harmful content in its double quantity proves that Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali each and every product is not safe for consumption and we should not trust it blindly.
Earlier, Patanjali Ayurved Ltd has been slapped with a Rs. 11 lakh fine by a city court for misbranding and misrepresentation of its products. The fine has to be paid within a month.
The case had been ongoing since November 2012. The judge, Lalit Narain Mishra, found that the company was guilty of “releasing misleading advertisements by selling certain products with its labels although they were being manufactured by some other firm.”
Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali product lands in trouble after facing food department’s ban:
The company was charged under Section 52 (misbranding) and Section 53 (misleading advertisement) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 as well as Section 23.1 (5) of Food Safety and Standard (Packaging and Labelling Regulations, 2011) Act.
The court also ordered the district food safety department to “take appropriate action if there is no improvement in the products in future.”
The case was filed against the company in November 2012 by District Food Safety Department when some of the products, including eatables like honey, salt, mustard oil, jam and besan (gram flour) failed quality tests. Tests were conducted at Uttarakhand’s only FSSAI-certified drugs and food testing lab located at Rudrapur.
In July, Advertising Standards Council of India or ASCI had pulled up the company for running “misleading” ad campaigns which made light of competitors’ products, which is against the ASCI norms.
Patanjali’s claim that rivals were making “‘Kachi Ghani Mustard Oil’ “adulterated with oil made by solvent extraction process with neurotoxin containing Hexane” was found unsubstantiated by the Consumer Complaints Council.
The company had also failed to prove that other companies sell “expensive juices containing less pulp”. It also failed to prove that “other companies mix 3 to 4 per cent urea and other non-edible things in their cattle feed,” compared to their ‘Patanjali Dugdhamrut’ cattle feed.