Food Safety & Standards Authority (FSSAI) of India

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.



The Times of India, Jun 08 2015

Additives with no specific FSSAI standard require product Approval

What is the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India?

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) was set up under the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006 which was passed in August, 2011. The Act was brought in to create out a single independent statutory body for food laws, standards and enforcement. It replaced various central laws dealing with food production standards and adulteration. These included the food adulteration act 1954, and various food production orders like fruit products order 1955, meat food products order 1973, milk products order 1992 and so on. The FSSAI is now the statutory body that regulates standards for manufacturing, distribution, sale and import of all kinds of food in India.

How does the FSSAI function?

The health ministry is the FSSAI's administrative ministry. Along with the FSSAI headquartered in Delhi, there are food safety authorities working at state and UT levels to enforce the provisions of the Act. The state food safety commissioner appoints food safety officers (FSOs) for various adminis trative areas of the state. The FSOs are entitled to inspect any place where food is man ufactured, exhibited or stored for sale. They can take samples for analysis, seize food articles or account books that appear to be in contravention of the Act and initiate the process of prose cution if necessary .

There are designated officers for each district for food safe ty administration. They issuecancel licences, maintain records of inspec tions, investigate com plaints received by the FSO and so on.

What happens if a food business operator is found violating the act?bb

If the designated officer has reasonable grounds for believing that a food business operator has failed to comply with the norms then heshe is sent an improvement notice mentioning the noncompliance. If the business operator fails to improve the standards, then hisher li cence may be suspend ed. If the business op erator still doesn't improve the quality , the designated officer, after giving a show cause notice to the li censee, can cancel the licence. The business operator can appeal against the order to the state commissioner of food safety.

What is an emergency prohibition notice and order?

On the written advice of the designated officer, the com missioner of food safety can issue emergency pro hibition of a food item if there is a health risk. Any person who knowingly con travenes this order can be jailed for a maximum of two years or fined up to Rs 1 lakh. The emergency pro hibition order ceases to op erate if the designated officer is satisfied that the food business operator has taken sufficient measures to justify the lifting of such an order.

What is product approval?

Food products including ingredients and additives for which there is no standard notified by FSSAI require product approval. Even for already approved products, minor compositional changes in ingredients require product approval. Similarly, approved products with changed claims on the label require approval. Traditionalethnic food, traditionally consumed in the country, mentioned in the food safety regulation like chiwda, halwa, banana chips, jalebi, rasaogolla, idli, dosa and so on are not required to get product approval provided they contain only the permitted quantity of food additives.

Take on food items

2015: Junk food for children

The Times of India

Mar 18 2015

Abhinav Garg

Junk food curbed, not banned in schools

High Court orders strict implementation of new guidelines by govt body

Availability of food items high in fat, sugar and salt such as noodles, pizzas, burgers and carbonated drinks is set to be restricted within 50 metres of schools across the country . Refusing to ban such foods in schools, Delhi high court on Tuesday gave its nod to guidelines prescribed by Food Safety & Standards Authority (FSSAI) of India that identify certain category of food and drinks as harmful for children advocating these be “regulated restricted“.

But, neither the high court bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw nor the FSSAI agreed to the plea of petitioner Uday Foundation to include the term “junk food“ in the guidelines and ban these explicitly . The court said according to Food Adulteration Act, there is no such provision.

The guidelines were fra med by a court-appointed expert committee under aegis of FSSAI on the subject of “making available quality and safe food in schools“.The panel identified foods high in fat, sugar and salt that must be limited by schools in canteens.

It said schools must promote nutrition awareness and encourage food items including sandwiches, fruit salads, paneer, vegetable cutlets, upma, idli, uthapam, khandvi, poha, low fat milkshakes, etc. While approving the gui delines the court gave Centre and FSSAI three months time to convert these into law and start enforcing it. The court also focused on Delh schools and directed the state government to frame fresh rules on the basis of the FSSAI norms so that schools can ignore these at their own peril. It has empowered stu dents, parents and teachers to lodge a complaint with the government if they find un restricted sale of harmfu food in their canteens. “A direction from the ad ministrator, Delhi, may also serve the purpose of viola tion of such guidelines being actionable under Delhi School Education Act. We di rect the administrator, Delhi to issue directions, on or before April 30, 2015, for com' pliance by schools with the guidelines and from time to time exercise supervisory powers over the schools,“ the court said.

Declining the plea of Uday Foundation to insert additional directions in the guidelines prepared by the panel, the high court said, “When an expert body con stituted for framing guidelines to make available qualil ty and safe food in schools has framed them, we do not consider it appropriate to tinker with them.“

The PIL by Uday Foundation through its founder Rahul Verma had sought an immediate ban on junk food and carbonated drinks in all unaided and private schools. It further urged the court to initiate measures to discourage availability of fast food within 500 yards of schools in Delhi, apart from a canteen policy.

After preliminary hearings the HC had set up a panel to examine dietary habits of schoolchildren on the question of banning sale of junk food in and around educational institutions.

The panel examined harmful effects of junk food and recommended guidelines. It included environmentalist Sunita Narain, nutritionists, doctors, scientists and representatives of the food industry , the latter included after their association approached the court arguing their stand must also be accommodated.

Aloo bonda is not processed food: SC

The Times of India, Sep 01 2015

Dhananjay Mahapatra

Rejects snack firm's claim to lower VAT

If pickles -vegetables and fruits seasoned in oil and spices -are classified as processed food and attract 4% value added tax (VAT), why shouldn't `aloo bonda', comprising mainly potato, not get the same tax benefit?

Bengaluru-based Merino Industries Ltd asked this question to the Supreme Court. It said the revenue department was levying 13% tax on the `Vegit' brand packed snacks it produced -aloo hara bhara kebab, aloo veg cutlet, aloo yummy cheese balls, aloo mazedar bonda and aloo jatpat tikki. A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy refused to entertain the petition saying, “Aloo bonda can never be categorized as processed vegetable merely because of high content of potato. Processed vegetables are generally canned or frozen.“

Merino's counsel argued that all these readymade snacks had over 50% potato content and should get the benefit of lower VAT as applicable to processed food. The SC bench agreed with the reasoning given by the Karnataka HC and rejected the petition.

The commissioner, commercial tax, in a July 24, 2010, order had said the snacks manufactured by Merino were unscheduled goods liable to tax at the rate of 13.5%. Merino challenged it in the HC. A single-judge bench favoured the snacks firm and ordered that its products would attract VAT at the rate of 4% like pickles and processed food items.

However, a division bench allowed the revenue department's appeal and said while interpreting provisions relating to classification of commodities, the predominant test to be applied was based on the understanding of the com modity in its popular and commercial sense.

“Applying the said test, it could be construed that the commodities in question are understood in common parlance or trade parlance as snack mix -a different commercial commodity from that of dehydrated potato flakes. It is settled principle of law that an entry in a fiscal statute has to be read as it is. Nothing could be added to enlarge the meaning of the entry,“ the HC had said and drew a contrast between processed food and snacks.

It said the general perception of processed vegetables or fruits was that these could be accepted as an alternative to fresh vegetables available in the market.


… with organisations floated by food companies

Rema Nagarajan , Oct 8, 2019: The Times of India

Key Highlights

The FSSAI has entered into several partnerships with organisations floated by food companies, sparking off concerns about conflict of interest since these companies are to be regulated by the Authority

"We are extremely careful in partnerships as far as conflict of interest is concerned," said FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has entered into several partnerships with organisations floated by food companies, sparking off concerns about conflict of interest since these companies are to be regulated by the Authority.

On its website, FSSAI lists its partnerships, which include one with an organisation called CHIFFS (CII-Hindustan Unilever Initiative on Food Safety Sciences). The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is an industry association that lobbies for corporate interests and Hindustan Lever's well known food brands include Knorr soups, Brook Bond tea, Lipton, Cornetto and Kissan.

The initiative includes other companies such as Dupont, Keventer Agro, Rasna, Nestle and Dabur. The partnership is "to co-produce food safety as a shared responsibility".

The witnesses for the MoU signed between FSSAI and CHIFFS include the regulatory affairs official of Coca-Cola and the executive director of Food and Agriculture Center of Excellence (FACE). FACE is a joint initiative of CII and Jubilant Bhartia, better known for Dominos Pizza and Dunkin Donuts. FACE and CHIFFS seem to have many common people in various capacities.

FSSAI's 'Eat Right India' campaign has involved several food businesses that have "come forward to voluntarily make commitments" on reducing transfats, sugar and salts in packaged foods and to promote healthier food options.

The website of the campaign, which lists almost every big food company as a partner, states that food businesses have been nudged to promote healthier food options in several ways. An industry notorious globally for resisting and even flouting regulation is being "nudged" for voluntary commitments though self-regulation by it hasn't worked in any other country.

Resource Centre for Health Supplements & Nutraceuticals (ReCHaN) is yet another "collaborative initiative of FSSAI, International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplements Association (IADSA) and CII". Partners of ReCHaN include DSM, one of the biggest multinationals manufacturing micronutrients, HerbaLife, Amway and SunPharma. IADSA described itself as a "global platform to guide the evolution of policy and regulation in the sector". It is primarily composed of 50 member associations representing over 20,000 companies worldwide and meant to give its members a part in shaping regulation globally and in individual countries.

FSSAI has also partnered with Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP), a public-private initiative established by the World Bank "to improve food safety in low and middle income countries". GFSP's collaborators include food MNCs such as Unilever, General Mills, Cargill, Mars Inc and Nestle. GFSP is supporting FSSAI set up an International Training Centre in Mumbai and is also "facilitating study visits of FSSAI or Indian delegations to various countries".

In collaboration with Tata Trusts, and various international NGOs working in the field of nutrition, FSSAI is establishing a Food Fortification Resource Centre to "promote large-scale fortification of food and to nudge and facilitate food businesses to adopt fortification as a norm". Several Tata companies are under FSSAI regulation. The international NGOs involved include Food Fortification Initiative and Nutrition International. Almost all identify themselves as public-private collaborations with collaborators including some of the world's biggest micronutrient manufacturers, food companies or associations and research institutes floated by the food and beverage industry.

FSSAI CEO Pawan Kumar Agarwal told TOI that the partnerships were being wrongly interpreted. "Food safety is globally seen as a shared responsibility with focus shifting from prosecution to preventive action to ensure food is safe in the supply chain. We are extremely careful in partnerships as far as conflict of interest is concerned. Capacity building of food businesses and consumer awareness building are important parts of our roles," said Agarwal.

CII defended its partnership stating that CHIFSS initiatives were focused on building capacity and capability in high-risk areas and that there was no room for any conflict of interest in its initiatives.

Steps to ensure healthy food habits

Ban on the use of newspapers to wrap

The Economic Times, Dec 10, 2016

Wrapping food items in newspaper is bad for your health as its ink has multiple bioactive materials with known negative health effects, FSSAI said on Friday.

"Wrapping food in newspapers is an unhealthy practice and the consumption of such food is injurious to health, even if the food has been cooked hygienically," the Food, Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) said in an advisory.

"Printing inks may also contain harmful colours, pigments, binders, additives, and preservatives. Besides chemical contaminants, presence of pathogenic micro organisms in used newspapers also poses potential risk to human health," the advisory said.

The advisory also said that even paper/cardboard boxes made of recycled paper may be contaminated with harmful chemicals like phthalate which can cause digestive problems and also lead to severe toxicity.

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