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Archive for April 2012

Food joints to come under FSSAI scanner soon

The district-level structure of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will have a full swing functioning soon. Even though the Authority came into effect throughout the country in August last year, the district-level structure was not functioning due to shortage of staff.

The district-level structure consists of Food Safety Officers (FSO) in each taluk, a designated officer at district-level and an adjudicating officer. The adjudicating officer is the Additional Deputy Commissioner of the district and the District Surveillance Officer (DSO) is given the charge of the district-level designated officer of the Authority.

Currently, due to lack of manpower, FSOs from other districts are given charge of the taluks in Dakshina Kannada from January onwards. The FSO of Tarikere taluk in Chikmagalur district is looking after the matters in Mangalore and Belthangady taluks.

FSO of Kollegal taluk in Mysore is in charge of Bantwal, Sullia and Puttur taluks in the district.

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The Expert’s Thought: This would help proper implementation of law even at district level.

Panel to help implement food safety Act

An expert advisory committee will soon be formed and it will assist the local food and drug administration officials in implementation of Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, and Regulations, Rules, 2011, said Mahesh Zagade, commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, Maharashtra, on Tuesday.

Zagade was speaking at an interactive session organised jointly by National Agriculture and Food Analysis and Research Institute (NAFARI) and Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA).

Representatives from food processing industries, traders and entrepreneurs attended the session, which was aimed at addressing questions and problems regarding the implementation of the new act and its rules.

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The Expert’s Thought: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 as a statutory body for laying down science based standards for articles of food and regulating manufacturing, processing, distribution, sale and import of food.

Specify contaminant level in water used for food, says FSSAI expert panel

An expert committee on water constituted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has proposed that standards should specify the “maximum contaminant level acceptable for the water as an ingredient of food” and the adjacent column of “permissible limit” in the absence of “alternate source” to be deleted.

Also, with regard to the pesticide residues it has been suggested to prescribe limit of total pesticide residue of 0.0005 mg/lt as prescribed in packaged drinking water standards.

As per the FSS (licensing and registration of food business operators) Regulations, 2011, it is mandatory to provide analyst’s report of water to be used as an ingredient of food while applying for license to state/ Central licensing authority.

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The Expert’s Thought: As the quality of our water deteriorates, we expect that people will more and more need to/want to test the quality of their drinking and other water.

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Unabated gutkha sale in State causes concern

The continuing sale of gutkha in Assam, disregarding public health interests, has prompted the Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHAA) to express serious concern. Referring to the recent ban on gutkha production and sale in Madhya Pradesh and in Goa much earlier, the VHAA has questioned why such a step cannot be taken by the Assam Government.

Assam has one of the highest incidences of oral cancer in the country and a main factor has been identified as the widespread use of tobacco products such as gutkha and other chewable tobacco products.

The VHAA said that to safeguard the health of its citizens from the menace of chewing tobacco products, the Government of Madhya Pradesh has banned the sale and manufacture of products like gutkha, khaini and other chewing tobacco products based on the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regulation to prohibit the addition of tobacco or nicotine in food, which was issued on August 1, 2011.

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The Expert’s Thought: Gutkha is an extremely popular herbal concoction sold throughout India and exported to a few countries. The most serious side effect associated with prolonged gutkha use is an increased risk of cancer.

 

FSSAI’s middle path; goes easy on licensing by making certification optional

Following the spate of agitations across the country against the new Food Safety and Standards (licensing and registration of food businesses) Regulations, 2011, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has attempted to carve a middle path by issuing an advisory that has made the long-winding Food Safety Management System Plan (FSMS) certification procedure for Food Business Operators (FBOs) optional.

The advisory issued by the FSSAI said, “Considering the difficulties faced by the FBOs in complying with the FSMS, a document that records the entire list of the activities carried out by the food manufacturer or handler or reseller of food in ensuring that the food is safe and facilitating the issuance or renewal or conversion of new licences during the transition period of one year, it has now been made optional.”

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The Expert’s Thought: The option would help Food Business Operators to get License easy and hence ensuring more law compliance.

‘Food Safety Act Provisions Not Favourable for India’

 

Political leaders may have divergent views on implementation of provisions of Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, but a senior social scientist here feels that it may not be in the interest of countries like India in view of its socio-economic conditions.

“The Act in my opinion is not in favour of India in view of its socio-economic conditions. It may be good for foreign countries but definitely not for Hindustan,” Professor Gyanendra Gautam, Barkatullah University’s Sociology Department Head, told PTI.

“How can one expect from a small trader selling food articles on a handcart to follow the Act’s provisions which may render large number of people jobless,” he asked.

Its implementation would result in increasing crime, corruption, poverty and unemployment, he said adding the provisions of the Act may be good but not in favour of India in the present form.

However, Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh while addressing a rally in Barwani recently alleged that the state government is unnecessarily trying to politicise the issue.

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The Expert’s Thought: The bill comes in the wake of several outbreaks of food-borne illnesses in recent years. The Opposition is indeed a sad story in the Law implementation. Legal experts should get along the provisions with the current market trends.

Now, fragrance and flavours body against FSS Act; seeks early amendment

The protests against the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, have gathered momentum with another leading body – Fragrances and Flavours Association of India (FAFAI) – expressing its displeasure over certain provision of the Act.

According to Ravi Mehra, chairman, flavour sub-committee, FAFAI, the present situation related to the FSSA is as follows: Rules related to multiple licensing and operations; rules related to standards and safety, and safety of the industry from initial turbulence. And hence, “It must be amended at the earliest,” he said.

“To obtain a licence, a food business operator has to obtain a number of permissions and no-objection certificates (NoCs) and submit many documents, in addition to filing returns within two months of the end of the financial year. It is impossible. The tax authorities have a prescribed format to file returns, which is an extra burden to many in the industry. The purpose of this format is to keep records of the turnover and to know the size of the industry. The same can be achieved with the VAT format as well,” he explained.

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The Expert’s Thought: The procedure has to be completely minimized for the Business Operators in order to ensure more efficiency of the law.


Legislation of food standards soon

The Central government is likely to start regulating misleading advertisements of food products that make tall claims without any scientific data to back up. Assertions like, a particular drink will make children grow taller or their memory power will get enhanced if they eat a product will be regulated.

“The Centre is introducing legislation on Food Safety and Standards to curb such claims made without scientific basis. Such claims should always be evidence-based and we are expecting the Central government to act soon,” said Director, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), B. Sesikeran here on Tuesday.

While interacting with press persons, the NIN Director minced no words on the present day eating habits and lack of physical activity among Indians. “People come to me and say that their forefathers have eaten everything, but they lived till 80 or 90 years. The point nobody understands is that unlike the earlier generation, today public hardly take up physical activity,” Dr. Sesikeran said.

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The Expert’s Thought: False advertising or deceptive advertising is the use of false or misleading statements in advertising.If you’re not going to advertise a product correctly, there’s bound to be some consumer backlash. Tough regulation is indeed important.

Scrap procedure related to procuring online licence

At a meeting of Sarva Samaj Udyog Vyapar Mandal held on Tuesday, the speakers demanded scrapping of the procedure related to procuring online licence for those engaged in business of edible items.

Presiding over the meeting the state president, Himanshu Kharbanda said that it has become mandatory for those engaged in selling edible and food items to obtain a licence from the Food Safety department as per the new provisions of Food safety and Standard Act 2006.Failure to do so would invite punishment and penalty.

He added that the department of Food Safety has made a provision to get registered online and obtain a license from the same.This is impratical because those not well versed with the use of computers are facing great difficulty to do so.

He urged the authorities to scrap the above procedure and instead re-introduce the manual procedure in order to enable the business community to get themselves registered.

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The Expert’s Thought: Scraping the current procedure would invite more problems to the Food Business Operators.

 

Draft norms on trans fats by month-end

 

Apex food regulator, the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has woken up to the ill effects of trans-fatty acids (TFAs). Following the uproar over the findings of the New-Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which said last week that there were high levels of trans fats, salt and sugar in popular packaged foods, the regulator has decided to prescribe limits for their usage and consumption.

A maximum of 10 per cent TFAs in vanaspati and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, used by the packaged foods industry, has been prescribed by FSSAI in a draft notification, to be issued by the end of this month.

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The Expert’s Thought: Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Trans Fat can cause Coronary Heart diseases, Hypertension and even some forms of cancer.

 

Jolt for FSSAI as Nagpur bodies move HC against “unconstitutional” FSSA

Challenging the constitutional validity of the provision of the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006 (FSSA 2006), Nagpur-based Vidarbha Taxpayers Association (VTA) and Nagpur Residential Hotels Association (NRHA) have filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) with the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court.
The PIL has been filed against the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, (FSSAI), the union ministry of health and family welfare, ministry of law & justice, legislative department, and the Food and Drug Administration, Maharashtra.

Calling certain provision of the FSSA unconstitutional, the PIL also challenges the legality, validity and propriety of the Regulation No. 2.1.2 of the Food Safety & Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Business) Regulations, 2011.

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The Expert’s Thought: Unfortunate but true !!!

FSSAI is misleading consumers by giving incomplete info: former APEDA chief

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is misleading consumers by publishing incomplete information. In its latest advertisement published in the media, the Authority has refrained from clarifying its stand on certain requirements of the Act which could create a situation of confusion for the consumers. This was stated by Nagendra Bhargava of the Midland Fruit & Vegetable Products (I) Pvt. Ltd.

Bhargava, who was the former chairman of Processed Food Export Promotion Council (replaced by The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority – APEDA), was referring to the March 25 advertisement published by the FSSAI in the newspapers making it mandatory for the food products manufacturers to print certain details on their label. These included name of the food, name and complete address of the manufacturer, net quantity/net content/net weight, lot/code/batch no., list of ingredients (inclusive of additives) in descending order, nutritional information (proteins, fats and carbohydrates), best before/expiry date, declaration regarding food additives (INS number), and vegetarian or non-vegetarian declaration.

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Food free from fear

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked the States to put in place an adequate and effective structure to administer the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which came into effect from August 5 last year.

The Act essentially involves putting in place an effective enforcement machinery to ensure safety in foods that are consumed. It was drafted as a consolidated Act bringing under its jurisdiction various individual Acts including the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.

In a letter to the States, K. Chandramouli, chairperson of the Authority has asked them to direct all concerned to initiate, set up and strengthen the implementing agencies so that “we could improve and put in place an adequate and effective structure to administer the Act.”

“You would agree that this is a very stupendous task and would need a very well coordinated effort involving local bodies like the municipalities, town areas and panchayats. A very strong information, education and communication (IEC) effort with local training and capacity building for government staff would also need to be put in place,” Mr Chandramouli said while adding that FSSAI would be supporting the States in terms of providing on-line software and material, training modules, training of trainers and resource persons. We have also sought budgetary support to strengthen the regulatory system in the 12th Plan, he said.

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Indians should stop excessive consumption of junk food, says diet experts

According to the diet experts, the habit of consuming junk food among Indian is increasing day by day and have warned that this could lead to severe health conditions.

Deputy Programme Manager at the Food Standards and Safety Authority of India (FSSAI) Savvy Soumya Mishra said that just blaming the international chains of fast food to spoil the pattern of diet in India is not enough.

She said that fast food has penetrated to the rural markets also in different forms such as potato chips and soft-drinks and wished that some remedial measures should be taken regarding this.

“Potato chips and similar snacks are available even in remote villages, where you may not find a school or a ration shop. These things have more reach. There will be soft-drink bottles in places that may not have even clean drinking water. McDonald’s and Pizza Hut may not have reached there, but chips and soft drinks have, what a pity!” Mishra said.

She also laid emphasis on the importance of reducing children’s reach to such trans-fat-laden junk food and suggested that such eatable items should be banned in schools.

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