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Archive for December 2012

Violators of food safety norms go scot-free

 

CHANDIGARH: If you have been digging into your favourite chicken dish which has not been prepared under hygienic conditions, the seller under the new food safety act can easily go scotfree despite being under the scanner. Reason — no challan booklet for imposing fine has been approved by the heath authorities.

The Food Safety and Standards Act of India (FSSAI) in itself is ‘powerful,’ with the penalty cost having been raised from Rs 500 to Rs 1,00,000. Though seven different food samples have failed in the city following the implementation of the Act, the sellers have been let off with just a few words of warning.

The FSSAI which came into effect on 5 August, 2011 has proved to be ineffective in the absence of a challan booklet to penalize people selling food that fails safety norms. According to officials in the health department, a letter has been forwarded for legal clearance. In the absence of a challan booklet, no fine has been imposed on anyone since the Act came into force.

Prior to the FSSAI, the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act entitled food inspectors to impose a maximum fine of Rs 500. However, the challan was issued through a court. “This new act is a fast track system as the deputy commissioner is entitled to impose a fine of upto Rs 1,00,000. Be it open or packaged food, all standards have to be met,” said a food inspector of the UT health department.

He added, “But none of the sellers whose food samples have failed this time have been fined in the absence of a challan booklet.”

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SC reserves order on plea against soft drinks

New Delhi, Dec 13 (PTI) The Supreme Court today reserved its order on a plea for setting up a committee to evaluate the alleged harmful effects of soft drinks on human health and to properly label the beverages, detailing their ingredients. A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra reserved its order after a detailed hearing on the Public Interest Litigation petition, filed in 2004. The plea alleged the ingredients of carbonated drinks have “serious deleterious effects on human health” and no action has been taken to test and assess the risk posed by such beverages. Soft drink major Pepsi, however, opposed the PIL with its counsel senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi arguing that the Food Safety and Standards Act aimed at regulating the standards of beverages was “sufficient” and all the regulations were in place. The Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), in its petition filed in 2004, had also sought directions to the cola firms to disclose the contents/ ingredients on the label of their bottles and to regulate “misleading” advertisements targeting children. Earlier on November 23 the apex court had asked the the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to file “records” relating to proceedings of its panels, formed following a judicial order on the PIL filed by the NGO. The court\’s direction came after Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO CPIL, alleged that instead of an expert panel, another FSSAI panel on labelling and claims/ advertisement should consider the grievance of additives in carbonated drinks. The apex court, on February 8, 2011, had asked FSSAI to reconstitute independent scientific panels to look into the harmful effects of chemicals in carbonated beverages. (More) PTI AAC RKS.

FSSAI under food law introduces rules for new food products entering India

With continuous innovation and research happening in the area of foods, a lot of new products and new ingredients can be seen coming into the food segment especially under the nutraceutical and functional food category.

A lot of foods imported into the country also may contain ingredients which are being introduced in India for the first time.

Under the PFA (Prevention of Food Adulteration Act) regime, there was no provision to regulate such foods. The FSSAI ( Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) under the new food law has introduced a regulation providing for requirement of new food product/ingredient approval before obtaining a license for the manufacturing of such foods.

The requirements

It has been provided under Schedule 1 of FSS (Licensing & Registration) Regulation, 2011 that food business operators manufacturing food containing ingredients or using technologies that do not have a history of safety or having ingredients which are introduced in the country for the first time need to obtain FSSA licence. According to the Food Authority, such FBOs must apply for product approval before applying for a central licence.

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FSSAI working on quality standards for imported food items

NEW DELHI: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) today said it is working on developing quality standards for imported products.

“We do have some standards to begin with but we need to take more steps in this regard to ensure the safety of food for consumption which comes from outside,” FSSAI Chairman K Chandramouli said today at an event here.

He was speaking at the FMCG summit organised by the Industry body Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham).

FSSAI, he added, is working on the standards with all the stakeholders including scientists, experts, industry officials and laboratories from the food business operators (FBOs), involved in import-export of food material.

To ensure that imported food items are accepted there is a need to set standards that are internationally minimum, he said.

“Our food exporters have to adhere to various stringent set of rules and regulations for exporting food, while we do not strain the same sort of stringency on imported food and thus it is imperative to evolve standards for domestically consumed food as we have been having a lackadaisical approach towards setting standards,” Chandramouli added.

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Statutory advisory for stearic acid in confectionery omitted from FSSR

The statutory advisory for the use of stearic acid as a lubricant in sugar-based/sugar-free confectionery, lozenges and chewing gum/bubblegum, issued by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), was inadvertently missed in Appendix A, Table 13 of the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.

According to an FSSAI official, “As per Order 03/02/2012/QAS/ FSSAI dated July 27, 2012, if there is any variance in standards of sugar-based/sugar-free confectionery, lozenges and chewing gum/ bubblegum between the Food Safety and Standards Regulations and its predecessor, the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Rules, 1954, the PFA rules will apply.

This is one such case. It is also requested that specific enforcement/prosecution may not be launched against the use of stearic acid in the aforesaid products within the prescribed limit till the necessary notification/amendment is issued under the FSS regulations.”

The official added, “The enforcement departments should not take action against the companies involved in the use of stearic acid. The instructions have been already given to the enforcement department.”

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A smooth ride ahead for FSSAI, finally

Seamless implementation of the Food Safety & Standards Regulations, 2011, in the country has posed to be a gigantic task for the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for the last one year. The problems on the food safety path have been too many. To begin with, lack of proper lab testing facilities has been a pressing issue.

But a look at what the Twelfth Plan has in store offers some hope. First, according to S N Mohanty, FSSAI CEO, by the end of the Plan, there will be about 200 food testing labs. In addition, there will be 70 intermediate labs and 30 referral labs. And the investment for all these labs is going to be a whopping Rs 25,000 to 30,000 crore. Not only that, the CEO has also standardised the lab testing parameters, thus bringing uniformity in the procedure and avoiding ambiguity. Further, the CEO is confident that the average testing time now is five days and it is going to get better with time. Looking at all these measures, in the next couple of years, in all possibility, the implementing authorities will finally be able to get their act together.

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Hoteliers are focussing more on food safety- Article by Ashwin Bhadri

Eating out is no longer a rare activity you do with your family to celebrate an occasion. It has become a regular feature in our way of life. But what if eating out comes at the cost one’s health? Risk of food borne Illness is very real and very serious. Hoteliers think that if their patrons fall ill after eating there, the worst thing that the patron can do is to not visit that establishment again. That’s not what happens.

The new law empowers consumer to register complaints against any hotelier. The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India has introduced a reward scheme to promote this. This is a very progressive step by the law, but maybe misused by some consumers. Some consumers may threaten to report the hotelier for every small lapse. They could demand a free meal or even worse, a compensation. This will put the hotelier in a dilemma.

A hotelier’s worst nightmare is a consumer who can also be a potential threat.

I have been working with many hoteliers from Andheri East especially to enable them counter these threats. Over the last one year they have started to realise that external third party consultants and trainers can help them to improve their food safety, enrich their customer experience and enhance their brand.

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FSSAI to hold licensing melas, workshops to educate FBOs of all states

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will be organising licensing melas and workshops to educate food business operators (FBOs) in various states of India in the months of December 2012 and January 2013.

The deadline for getting licensing and registration is February 4, 2013 (which would lapse three months hence). But some states have not started the process of licensing and registration yet.

In order to solve this problem, FSSAI has come up with this initiative so that they can highlight the importance of obtaining licenses and registering their establishments to the FBOs in various parts of the country.

The states participating in this licensing melas and workshops are Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. More than 5,000 FBOs are expected to participate in the licensing melas and workshops.

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Food Security Bill provided for covering 75% rural, 50% urban population

The National Food Security Bill, 2011, introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 22, 2011, provided for coverage of upto 75% of the rural population, with at least 46% population belonging to priority households, and upto 50% of the urban population, with at least 28% population belonging to priority households for receiving subsidised food grains under Targeted Public Distribution (TPDS). The information was given by minister of state (independent charge) for consumer affairs, food & public distribution K V Thomas in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on Monday.

The Bill is presently being examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution. Requests have been received for Universal Public Distribution System (PDS). However, government was not considering introduction of Universal PDS as the focus on poor would get diluted.

As on November 1, 2012, the total stocks of food grains in Central Pool were 695.29 lakh MTs. Keeping in view the demands from the states/UTs and current surplus stocks of food grains in the Central pool, government has been making additional allocation over and above the normal TPDS allocation. During the current year, following additional allocations of food grains have been made:

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Drinks with 320ppm caffeine to be labelled ‘caffeinated drinks’: FSSAI

Drinks that contain caffeine should be categorised as ‘caffeinated drinks’ and packs should clearly mention statutory safety warnings, said K. Chandramouli, chairperson, Food Safety & Standard Authority of India (FSSAI).

“We are separating these drinks with other soft drink items, creating a new category called ‘caffeinated drinks’. Consumers should have such a drink after knowing what it contains,” Chandramouli said, on Friday. Labelling these as energy drinks is misleading for consumers, said the FSSAI chairman.

As per the FSSAI guidelines, which would be published soon, drinks that contain caffeine of more than 320 mg per litre or parts per million (ppm) would be labelled as caffeinated drink, said Chandramouli. Currently, the prescribed upper limit of caffeine in soft drinks and aerated sugar water is 145 ppm.

“Most of the energy drinks are likely to come under the caffeinated drinks category,” he added.

Packs should contain the statutory safety warnings, specifying “not recommended for children, pregnant or lactating women, persons sensitive to caffeine and sportspersons”, as per a FSSAI note.

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No tea trade without conforming to FSSAI parameters

In a bid to ensure quality and protect the image of India tea globally, the Tea Board of India Thursday said no tea can be exported from or imported into the country from February if it does not conform to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) parameters.

“Effective Feb 1, 2013, no teas can either be exported from or imported into India, without conforming to FSSAI parameters and teas would be subjected to random testing,” a Tea Board of India release said in Kolkata.

FSSAI was 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 so as to ensure safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

Against the backdrop of various quality issues that have cropped up in recent years, the tea board has already taken firm steps to protect and enhance the image of Indian tea globally and to ensure that only tea worthy of the tagline ‘Indian tea’ is exported.

The board has recently established Tea Councils for both north and south India to put in place an online mandatory mechanism to track all exports and imports of tea and ensure that quality norms are enforced.

Don’t permit FDI in retail in small businesses’ interest, BUVM tells PM

In a letter addressed to India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh, the Bharatiya Udyog Vyapar Mandal (BUVM) has stated that using foreign direct investment (FDI) in India’s multi-brand retail business as a ruse, multi-national corporations (MNCs) – which have the Centre’s permission to set up shop in the country with relaxed norms – are forcing local small and medium businesses to down their shutters. It further urged him not to permit the same in India.

“Establishments in the country’s retail sector – estimated at five crore – and the cottage industries span from the desert of Rajasthan to the peaks of the Himalayas, and take care of the daily needs of the common man by making essential commodities available at affordable prices. The retailer is not expecting any sort of help, but by encouraging the MNCs, which is not in the nation’s interest, the government is bent upon stopping small retailers from earning their livelihoods,” it said.

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No tea trade without conforming to FSSAI parameters: Tea Board

KOLKATA:  In a bid to ensure quality and protect the image of India tea globally, the Tea Board of India Thursday said no tea can be exported from or imported into the country from February if it does not conform to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) parameters.

“Effective Feb 1, 2013, no teas can either be exported from or imported into India, without conforming to FSSAI parameters and teas would be subjected to random testing,” a Tea Board of India release said here.

FSSAI was 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 so as to ensure safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

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Govt takes action against food manufacturers for misleading ads

NEW DELHI: The government has launched prosecution against the manufacturers of 19 food items for allegedly making misleading claims in the advertisements for their products, the Lok Sabha was informed on Friday.

 

In a written reply, minister of state for health A H K Choudhary said the alleged misguiding claims in the advertisements for 38 food items were monitored by Food Safety Standards and Authority of India (FSSAI).

“So far 38 food items had been identified with misleading claims. Manufacturer of these articles were served with show-cause notices and their replies were examined at FSSAI by a three-member committee. As per recommendations of the committee, prosecutions have been launched in 19 cases by designated officers at regional level,” he said.

On a querry over sale of soft drinks in hospitals, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that his ministry has not issued any directives in this regard.

“Since health is a state subject, it is up to the state governments to take decision in this regard,” he said.

Replying to a question on misuse of correction fluids and nail paint removers, Azad said the states have been requested to take action for enforcement of necessary measures by sensitising the industries producing these products.

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Burdened by fertiliser subsidy, governments to mandate organic farming

The burden of fertilizer subsidy, weakening of the Indian rupee and the impact of global warming, which is resulting in water scarcity, poor rainfall will now force the Union government and the state governments to mandate organic farming practices over chemical farming, said Ardhendu Sen, director, The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri), a not-for-profit, policy research organisation working in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable.

The Teri director, who was the former chief secretary to the government of West Bengal, gave a presentation on Vision 2020: Government of India’s Perspective for Organic Agriculture at the 4th BioFach India 2012 in Bengaluru, in which he said that although the production of organic farming was low in the initial stages compared to chemical farm practices, there was a steady increase in its output over the years.

“While there are challenges in organic farming covering an initial fall in yield, the premium prices outweighed the negative issues. There is also the lack of focus on the marketing front, certification processes and the issue of weak market linkages. Despite the problems, the practice of organic farming is viewed as an ideal alternative to the conventional methods of cultivation, to offset the ill-effects of chemical agriculture,” Sen said.

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