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Archive for June 2012

India: An unpalatable truth about our food safety

It appears India’s food regulator has got all its priorities horribly wrong. The regulatory body plans to spend a whopping sum of over Rs.1,000 crore just on publicity during the 12th plan period. The amount the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has sought from the government for publicity related activities is much more than what it plans to spend on its core activities – developing food safety standards, setting up testing labs, surveillance and so on.

Out of Rs.6,548 crore for various projects and initiatives planned during the 12th plan period, as much as Rs.1,019 has been earmarked just for publicity.

The meek justification being offered for this disproportionate funding for publicity is that people have to be made aware about various provisions of the Food Safety Act, 2006. Read more

India: Check tobacco promotion, sales: Voluntary group to FSSAI

An anti-tobacco voluntary group Wednesday sought intervention of India’s food safety authority to check promotion and sales of tobacco products in the country as part of the public health policy.

HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth), in a letter to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said tobacco products were being indirectly promoted in the country.

“The tobacco industry has been using indirect and surrogate means like sponsoring TV shows, cricket tournaments and award functions to promote products such as pan masala through their identical brand extensions.”

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India: Temples serving food must follow norms set by food safety authorities soon

Temples providing Annadhaanams to devotees will soon come under the gambit of the safety and quality norms prescribed by the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI).

The move is to ensure that proper hygiene is maintained while preparing and serving food to devotees at these religious centres. A high level meeting was also convened here in the city on June 1 which was attended by officials from Hindu Charity and Religious Endowments( HR&CE) department and the designate officer for the FSSAI. The temples will have to get registered with the FSSAI as per the norms of section 31 of the FSSAI Act.

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Energy drinks will be renamed to caffeinated beverages

Your favourite “energy” drink is about to lose its very name. The food regulator has decided to respond to health concerns over the high caffeine content of non-alcoholic beverages being marketed as energy drinks, stripping them of the “energy” tag. energy drink Energy drinks will soon be renamed All such drinks will now be called “caffeinated beverages” and will come with a statutory safety warning.

After deliberating on the issue for two years, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is now close to notifying regulations for caffeinated drinks. The matter was discussed at the ninth meeting of the authority on June 6. The draft regulation — yet to be published — puts the upper limit of caffeine in a caffeinated beverage at 320 mg per litre or parts per million (ppm).

The currently prescribed limit for caffeine in soft drinks or aerated sugar waters is 145 ppm. All caffeinated drinks will come with a mandatory safety warning specifying “not recommended for children, pregnant or lactating women, persons sensitive to caffeine and sportspersons”. Most energy drinks are targeted at young adults and “manufacturers compare the effects of their drinks to the use of drugs like cocaine”, a note prepared by the authority pointed out.

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New Delhi, India: Faced with sudden spurt in court cases, FSSAI on a hiring spree of advocates

Faced with growing number of litigations and proceedings related to the haphazard implementation of the FSS Act, 2006, across the country, the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) is hiring advocates or law firms to defend itself. In this regard, the Authority has called for Expression of Interest (EoI) for selection of advocates.

An FSSAI official explained to F&B News in a chat over telephone, “There were different cases relating to various issues of foods and also with regard to implementation of the new law, which had created a lot of confusion.”

He said that it was mandatory to clear all the cases pertaining to different issues on food in various courts across the country for the new law to be implemented successfully.

“We would select able advocates and the numbers would differ depending upon the number of cases to be fought in the court,” he said.

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Kochi, India: Chamber holds seminar on Food Safety Act

The Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry organised a seminar on Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 and its impact on food industry here.

Inaugurating the seminar, Dr G.S. Rajorhia, principal consultant of Indian Registrar of Quality Systems, New Delhi, said that lack of awareness about various provisions of the Act is a major hurdle faced by the constituents in the food supply chain.

He pointed out that understanding the Act has become inevitable for the consumers as well as for the food business operators (FBO). It is imperative that they register or get licence for their trade under the Act before August 4.

All FBO’s from transporters to sellers will need to comply with the rules under the Act by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), a single reference point for all matters relating to Food Safety and Standards, Regulations and Enforcement.

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FSSAI’s Ninth meet discusses standards for olive oil, caffeinated beverages

With S N Mohanty taking over as the CEO at Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the Authority conducted its Ninth Authority Meeting recently. An official from FSSAI confirmed this to FnB News in a chat over telephone.

Conducted in the presence of chairperson K Chandramouli, the meeting discussed large number of issues with stakeholders. These included draft standards for olive oil, draft standards for caffeinated beverages, use of nutritional ingredients in various food items, amendment to the food safety & standards (contaminant, toxins and residues) regulations, fixing of antioxidant limit in honey and draft import regulations.

To begin with, the meeting took note of CEO’s report on activities of FSSAI during the year 2011-12. Also, the challenges before the Authority during the year 2012-13 were spelt out.

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New Delhi: Greenpeace urges Central government not to settle for half hearted efforts on GM labeling

New Delhi: Greenpeace India welcomes the formal recognition by the Government of India of the need to label Genetically Modified foods so as to give the consumer a choice. This single line decision by the Central Government was published in a Gazette Notification dated June 5, 2012 by the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

Responding to the Notification, Shivani Shah, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace said that “While labeling does give consumer a chance for the avoiding genetically modified food in the market, what our Government seems to forget is that it is almost impractical in India where more than 90 per cent of our food is unprocessed and non-packaged and forms a chunk of the unorganised sector.”

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New Delhi, India: Food Import Regulatory Standards

Registration With the FSSAI has Been Made Mandatory for Importers

Fi Conferences is launching its inaugural Food Import Regulatory Standards conference, which will take place on 28 June. This much awaited strategic initiative will enable you to understand and overcome current regulatory challenges, sampling and analysis ambiguity, customs clearance hurdles and labelling issues related to food import. It will bring together heads of imports and supply chain from food and beverage manufacturers, packaged food importers, ingredient manufacturers and suppliers.

A leading service provider to major brands, multinational companies and reputed importers in the foods, beverages, frozen foods, food ingredients and spirits industry has recebtly blogged about registration with the FSSAI becoming mandatory for importers.  Also, all Indian importers must procure the acknowledgement for submission of documents. It may be noted that samples will not be withdrawn from import consignments for testing in case the importer does not have the acknowledgement copy of such submission, and consignments will get held up at customs. It appears the grace period given to importers for arranging the same has been extended up to 31 July 2012.

India: Food authority mulls wait & watch

The country’s top food regulator, Food Safety and Standard Authority (FSSAI) seems to be in no hurry to finalise the draft of the whistleblower scheme aimed to reward informants exposing food adulteration. This despite, its surveys reporting that contamination of food items including milk is common across the country.

In fact, the FSSAI has put on hold the draft guidelines stating that it is waiting for the Parliament to enact the “Whistleblower Bill,” which is yet to be discussed in the Rajya Sabha.

“For, it wants its scheme to be on the line of the proposed legislation whenever it is passed,” said a senior official in the Union Health Ministry which oversees the working of the autonomous body.

The draft guidelines prepared by the FSSAI follows the announcement of Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in February in 2011 to frame a whistleblower scheme to reward those who provide information against those indulging in adulteration of food. Azad had promised zero tolerance against the food adulterators.

India: FSSAI extends term of eight scientific panels and committee by 2 months

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has provided a two-month extension to its eight scientific panels and committee, the terms of which came to an end on May 26, 2012.

While the Authority claimed that the extension would help the panels and the committee to complete some unfinished work, an official informed FnB News that the extensions were provided as FSSAI was not finding the right replacements for the members concerned.

The official explained that forming of fresh scientific panels at this stage would be time-consuming as some important work and related documents being tackled by the panels and the committee were at completion stage.

But he contradicted it with, “The forming of the committee and the panel has been extended based on the responses received for their ads.”

India: FSSAI to prescribe maximum allowable alcoholic content in hard liquior

For the first time in the country, the government will be prescribing alcohol content in all alcoholic beverages marketed in the country. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is in the process of finalising the draft norms for the same.

With this, FSSAI will lay down the maximum permissible percentage in all alcoholic beverages like wine, beer, vodka, whisky and mandate safety standards for consumers under FSSA. Currently some of the liqour manufacturing companies are voluntarily printing the alcoholic percentage on the labels.

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India: New norms to check bacteria presence in milk

The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has made it mandatory for the food and drugs department of every state to test for harmful bacteria like e coli in milk this year. This apart, the milk producers too will have to test for bacterial content like staphaureus and listeria monocytogenes before pushing it into the market. The new set of standards was first introduced across the nation in August 2011. The producers will have to declare on their packets that the milk is certified e coli, staphaureus and listeria monocytogenes free. The FSSAI has laid down standards for 10 types of milk that include buffalo, cow, goat or sheep, mixed, standardized, re-combined, toned, double-toned, skimmed and full-cream milk.

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India: Tribunal to keep watch on street food

The Gujarati foodie with an elephantine appetite needs to know how much calories one shoves in with that lip- smacking, enticing and chatpata street food, becoming fast consumables these days. Equally important is to find out the nutritional value of the barrage of locally packaged food.

The city for this purpose will have the state’s first food safety tribunal which will not only provide teeth to food safety inspectors to keep quality checks on food sold in the city but also nail defaulters who make false claims about nutritional value of their products. The tribunal will be set up within the next two months.

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India: Cancer patient stresses on blanket ban

Naimuddin Shaikh, a 37-year-old oral cancer patient, has written a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, asking him to emulate the blanket ban on tobacco products followed in states like Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.

Shaikh, who is presently being treated in Tata Hospital, is in the advanced stage of oral cancer. In his letter, Shaikh emphasized that banning tobacco products in the state is essential to ensure that our children do not fall prey to these products.

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India: Stay on FSSAI hotel rules

The operation of the newly prescribed regulations of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) with regard to licensing and registration of the food business was stayed by the Madras High Court on Thursday. Vacation judge K Venkataraman granted the injunction while passing interim orders on writ petitions from the TN Hotels Association, Egmore, and others.

Among other things the regulation defined a petty food manufacturer by prescribing an annual turnover and imposing certain other restrictions. Advocate G Sankaran contended that when Sec 31(2) of the FSSAI’s Licensing and Registration of Food Business Act 2011 defined a petty manufacturer only with reference to the nature and scale of business, the regulation could not put restrictions on annual turnover. Therefore the regulation was inconsistent with the provisions of the main Act 34 of 2006. Sankaran contended that the regulations were impracticable.

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