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Archive for October 2011

How to improve food safety in India

Our control over our food and our health requires inventive institutional reordering and new ideas about the way food regulations work, writes Sunita Narain.

The Food contamination is harmful and shows the complete disregard of the regulatory system for safety over business. What can be done? The obvious answer is to improve the science of food regulation.

But no one is discussing how India should devise its regulations in a way they can promote food which is good for its people in terms of nutrition and health.

The answer is not so obvious because even though food regulations all over the world are designed for consumer safety, they end up compromising on the consumer’s health by willy-nilly pushing bad food and bad industrial food practices. So, the question I have is:

How does India improve not just the science but also the art of good food?

Even as I write this, two important discussions are taking place in two important food countries. In the US, the Senate is hotly debating the Food Safety and Accountability Act 2010, which would give more powers to the country’s food and drug administration to inspect and recall contaminated or mislabelled food.

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The Experts Thought: Food Safety has always been a major Challenge in India in terms of its regulation, its implementation and other regional Problems. Maintaining it accessible to all sections of society would be a tough job either.

The Food Safety Standards Act promises to set up international food safety standards

Indian eateries that do not maintain food safety standards may find the going tough before long. A central food safety law has finally been instituted. Among other things, it will look into food safety violations by restaurants and manufacturers and provide compensation to victims.

Though the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA) was passed in 2006, it was not until August this year that the law was notified and its rules and regulations drafted and put into place. Until now, matters concerning food safety were dealt with under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. However, experts say that the FSSA is much more comprehensive and tackles food safety issues head on. “The law tries to cover every possible aspect related to food safety and consumer rights protection. It is a progressive and well drafted law,” says Pervez Rustomkhan, a Mumbai-based advocate.

Indeed, the FSSA brings in its purview every sort of food — from genetically modified food to fortified food, mineral water, infant food, chewing gum, and so on. And even more significantly, it sets up a single reference point, the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), for all issues related to food safety and standards and harmonises them with international standards.

The FSSAI has been mandated to ensure the implementation of the food standards specified under the act. The body is to lay down the limits for food additives, set up the procedure for the accreditation of the bodies associated with food safety management, and regulate and monitor the manufacturing, processing, distribution, sale and import of food.

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The Expert’s Thought: Hope this Law be a boon for Food and Beverage Industry.

FSSAI calls for EoI for inspection / auditing of food business operations

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has finally decided to take the services of the private sector for filling up the gap due to shortage of human resource personnel for inspection and auditing of food business operations.

In this regard, the Authority has called for an Expression of Interest (EoI) for inspection / auditing of food business operations (FBOs).

The Authority said, “FSSAI, under Section 44 of FSS Act, 2006, (Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006) intends to authorise certification / auditing bodies. All such certification / auditing bodies as accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) or any other national accreditation body or by any international accreditation body for inspection / auditing of food business operators for the FSMS (Food Safety Management Systems).can apply.”

The NABCB undertakes assessment of certification bodies applying for accreditation as per the Board’s criteria in line with international standards and guidelines. The Board offers accreditation to the certification and inspection bodies.

“This will enable the FBOs to assess themselves against these requirements and retain evidence of their due diligence in this regard. The Act also specifies that the primary responsibility for safety is on the food business operators and for this appropriate food safety management system is essential. Thus there is requirement of an annual audit of each FBO,” the Authority, further said.

Reacting to this development in the Authority, Ashwin Bhadri , head, business relations, Equinox Labs, said, “We have been lobbying for this for a while and glad that it has come. We look forward to apply. This initiative will be a boon to the industry.”

Source: FnB news

The Experts Thought: Food Inspections would help Industry to comply their Hygiene Standards and identify flaws.

FSSA implementation is biggest challenge, points out Gaur at Food summit

India Food Industry Summit 2011, UBM India’s unique offering for this year – a post-exhibition conference – held here on Wednesday, saw different stakeholders of the food industry deliberating on different challenges that the new Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSAI), 2006, was likely to meet in the coming days.

Offering his point of view on the subject, FSSAI CEO and interim chairman V N Gaur said that though the task of drafting the new law and regulations was a complicated procedure involving a number of tasks, data compilation and deliberations, but the biggest challenge now was to facilitate a smoother implementation process.

He informed, “Most of the states have moved successfully with respect to the implementation of the new Act, but there are some state governments which are facing constraints like resource crunch and lack of infrastructure.”

However, the states where the food industry had a bigger presence had moved ahead steadily. He further informed that three drafts – functional food, labelling and claims, and list of additives – would be going for approval to the scientific committee soon. They are currently reviewed by the scientific panel.

Interestingly, Gaur again emphasised on the issue of labs strengthening and said that even an NABL Accreditation needed to be revised as different NABL-accredited labs were coming up with different results for the same tests on one food particle.

Experts Thought: India is a country with 1.2 billion population. Majority of them reside in rural areas. Explaining the aim of the law to the ruralites  would be a though challenge for the Government. The Government would have to take regional steps because a lot 0f them are illiterate and not fluent in English. Common man benefiting from this Law would only fulfill the purpose of the FSSAI law.

FDA to crack down on food adulteration

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has created various check posts and appointed officers to identify unlicensed suppliers and sellers across the state to prevent adulteration of food products.

FDA commissioner Mahesh Zagade said, “We have identified spots in the city where adulteration takes place and started on-the-spot registrati-ons for sellers and suppliers.”

With food licensing under the FDA now, the punishment for adulteration has become harsher. The penalty can go up to Rs 10 lakh. The FDA has appealed to Mumbaikars to be vigilant and look out for a shop’s licence before shopping and report those that don’t display the licence.

You can call on FDA helpline-022-26592207- and report discrepancies.

The Experts Thought – I think this an initiative is excellent one. The Common Man should use this Helpline to help FDA to spot Adulterated Food Items. The Consumer should also demand better quality from the Food Vendors. Did you know that every packaged food item has to have a Nutritional Label, which needs to contain Nutritional Facts, Ingredients, Shelf Life and Manufacturer Contact information, along with the MRP. Demand this on every Food item that you but, Its Your Right!!!

Source

Features of new rules set by Food Safety and Standards Authority

Till any type of food reaches you, it passes through various norms and checks as food safety is vital to consumers and food business operators.

The consumers must be assured that the food they buy and eat will not pose a health hazard and that they are protected from adulteration and fraud.

While DNA is spreading awareness about this much important, yet ignored, concern about food hygiene, we are listing some of the important features of the new rules set by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Although food safety legislation affects everyone in the country, it is particularly relevant to those working in the production, processing, storage, distribution and sale of food, no matter how large or small the business is. This includes non-profit making organisations.

The FSSAI, which was put in place in August, is a single reference point for all matters relating to food safety and standards, regulations and enforcement.

Here are some important features of the Act explained by Equinox Lab, an expert in food safety and hygiene auditing.

Decentralisation of licensing


Earlier, there was one central body to issue licences to manufacture food products. With the new FSSAI, the task of getting licence becomes easier and faster as one does not have to depend on a single body. There are local state-wise bodies.
For Maharashtra, the FDA issues licences. Further, the Food and Drug Administration appoints food safety officers at local levels like zilla parishad.

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FSSAI: New spoke in Wine Importers’ Wheel

While most wine importers are blissfully unaware of FSSAI and the nightmares it is about to bring to their life, a recent policy of strict adherence of an earlier notice by this government body, Food Safety & Standards Authority of India, dated 25 February, 2011 requiring testing of samples of every label of imported wine before the shipment is released by the Customs is going to further add to the costs and regulatory stifling process, writes Subhash Arora who fully appreciates and supports the need for the sample checks but strongly hopes that it takes a pragmatic approach.
The FSSAI Notice of 25 February, 2011 demanded a strict compliance as per food and safety and standards authority directives dated 2 December 2010. This included imported package foodstuff, specified various requirements that included importer’s name, weight of the product, month of manufacture, declaration of Best Before date of month on the package, nutritional information  and declaration of whether it is ‘vegetarian’ or ‘non-vegetarian’ had been made mandatory.

With immediate effect, all such items which fall in Chapter 22 (wine which falls under chapter 2204 is also under this notice) will require for any imports, a required lab test before Custom allows to clear the goods from the Port. This is applicable in all ports within India, whether it is for home consumption or meant for Re-Export. Chapter 2204 – 2208, which includes all form of alcohol, wines, beers, port & sherries & hard spirits are all under the purview of the FSSAI henceforth.

‘The implementation has been put in force almost 10 days back,’ says Debjit Dasgupta, Secretary of the Delhi Foreign Liquor Association, formed last year. A couple of importers whose shipments landed at the port during this week in Delhi have been running from pillar to post, trying to get the material released at least for the current shipments.

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