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FOOD SAFETY

FSSAI proposes comprehensive amendments to Food Safety & Standards Act
Monday, 25 June, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
FSSAI proposed comprehensive amendments to the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and came into force in 2011. Under the new proposal, the chief executive officer of the country’s apex food regulator will act as the food safety commissioner for the Union.

FSSAI said that it had been prescribed in the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, under Section 10(5) that its CEO shall act as food safety commissioner for matters related to food safety.

The proposal stated that the CEO shall exercise the powers of the food safety commissioner for the Union of India (CoFSUI) for efficient implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011.

In the capacity of CoFSUI, the manufacture, storage, distribution or sale of any food article in the country, or any part as the case may be, shall prohibit in the interest of public health. The CoFSUI is also authorised to conduct a training programme for food safety personnel and has the monitoring powers for effective enforcement.

The CoFSUI can sanction prosecution of food business operators (FBOs) operating under the central licenses as well.

The proposed amendment also brought in the word export of food under the ambit of the food safety regulations. The new amendments have made a special section for dealing with the exported food items. “Currently, the exported food items are not covered explicitly in the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006,” said FSSAI.

The new proposal also defines the reference laboratories as the laboratories notified by the FSSAI under Section 43 (1), 43 (2), which are accredited as per ISO/IEC standards for method development, method validation, proficiency testing and training by national and international bodies signatory to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) or Asia Pacific LAC.

The new amendment also proposed that the traditional food should not require any product approval but subject to the compliance with horizontal standards.
FSSAI has also proposed to insert one year time for completion of the work related to the formation of the regulations with provision of an additional six months’ time.

The apex regulator stated that sometimes it takes over12 months to finalise the regulations, so it was proposed that the regulations be given ample time to be notified after due consultations. Currently, only a six-month deadline has been set for regulation-setting process.

The proposed amendment also prescribes for the risk-based sampling of the imported food items and surveillance even when the products are selling in the market.

Besides, changes like additional powers to the state food safety commissioners, definition of food and its difference from animal feed, food business and food laboratory meaning and so on, are inculcated.

Further, the meaning of audits, ingredients, manufacturers, use of insecticides, proprietary foods, roles and duties of all the stakeholders and much more are defined under the proposed amendments by the FSSAI.

Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI, has written a letter to the chief secretaries of all the states in this regard, in which he stated that the proposed amendments were incorporated after inputs were received from various stakeholders.


Ashwin Bhadri, chief executive officer, Equinox Labs, said, “It is imperative that regular changes are added, so that the Act segregates the roles while defining the responsibilities of each individual.”

“The changes are bound to shed some light on the entire process for all the stakeholders and streamline it. In turn, it will benefit the amendments and regulations, empowering each individual contributing to the food ecosystem,” he added.

“Ease in operations, authority and clearly defined terms will only make it easy for the FBOs, FSSAI, consumers and the testing laboratories in adept functioning. I am sure in the matter of a few months, effective results will be evident,” Bhadri said.

“FBOs will know the difference between terms and how to abide by them; labs will dig deeper to identify non-conformity, food safety officials will have more power vested to identify those non-complying from the rest, and consumers will be at the beneficial end, receiving only safe and healthy food. It will strengthen the Indian food industry largely," he added.
 
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