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POLICY & REGULATIONS

FSSAI's draft notification to adopt 46 vertical stds for food additives
Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Pushkar Oak, Mumbai
The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a draft notification to adopt 46 vertical standards for food additives, released previously by the Bureau of Indian Standards(BIS) in June 2016.

Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI, said, “Last year, we initiated work regarding the review of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, and scientific panels also identified standards which can be drawn from other regulations, which may overlap or clash with the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011. This is one of the major developments. The release of the vertical standards will start eliminating the need of product approval.”
 
The BIS, under the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, had released a draft notice in this regard. In line with the BIS, the draft was put for comments by the FSSAI in June 2016.

In June 2016, the FSSAI had also put the draft for comments before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) member countries for a period of 60 days, following publication on the WTO website in September.

The draft has laid down various additives under such categories as food colours, preservatives, acidity regulators, gelling agents, thickeners, stabilisers, antioxidants,  flavour enhancers, glazing agents, humectants, wetting agents, dispersing agents, sweeteners and sequestrants.

Besides, it has also stated the necessary requirements with regard to the appearance, texture, mass, purity, maximum proportion of contaminants like lead, arsenic or nickel and odour of additives.

The draft addressed several major concerns regarding controversial additives like monosodium L-glutamate (MSG) and titanium dioxide and the use of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose in processed foods, which was much debated last year.

“The adoption of the vertical standards for food additives drawn from BIS has provided a clear picture with regard to the proportion of the presence of ingredients and also contaminants in it. The document has also said that the testing will have to be done according to the procedures laid down by the BIS,” said Madhukar Johar, expert, FSSAI.

“There was much debate over the use of MSG as a flavour enhancer for the last two years. Much has been talked about it and many studies have been undertaken by the laboratories, both by the government as well as the industry,” he added.

“Predominantly, the adoption of these vertical standards by the FSSAI has thrown light even on other additives like titanium dioxide, which was earlier in the spotlight for its contaminating properties of zinc,” Johar said.

“But currently, according to the FSSAI, a recent amendment excluded zinc as a contaminant, as it is one of the major micronutrients, which is currently being looked at positively for fortifying food,” he added.

Meanwhile, the affected stakeholders can file their objections and suggestions till January 14, 2017. Currently, the scientific panels are reviewing standards, so that it can adopt such vertical standards to ease the pressure on the food business operators (FBOs) and the food industry.
 
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