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Archive for June 2013

The Danger of Chloramphenicol in Milk

milk

Chloramphenicol (CAP) is a naturally occurring, broad-spectrum antibiotic (Figure 1) that is artificially manufactured for use in veterinary and human medicine. Due to its adverse effects in humans, use of the antibiotic is restricted and, in some situations, prohibited. Increased legislation has led to the imposition of a ‘zero tolerance’ of CAP in food products by the European Council Regulation EEC No. 2377/90[1] and the technologies used in CAP detection being both improved and updated. A case study using the Bruker EVOQ™ Qube identifies CAP in milk matrix at 0.02 ppb, meeting the required minimum required performance level (MRPL) of 0.3 ppb.

CAP is a bacteriostatic antimicrobial effective against both Gram-positive and -negative bacteria. CAP was first introduced into clinical practice as ‘chloromycetin’ in 1949, derived from the bacterium Streptomyces venezuelae. By inhibiting protein synthesis, CAP stops protein growth. It prevents protein chain elongation by inhibiting the ribosome, directly interfering with the substrate binding.

A very small, extremely lipophilic molecule, CAP remains relatively unbound to proteins. These physiochemical properties give it excellent blood-brain barrier permeability and make it the primary treatment for staphylococcal brain diseases. As one of the first antibiotics to be synthetically mass manufactured, CAP was used as a first line of typhoid treatment. In the EU today, CAP is often restricted to use with serious infections and only when necessary. However, the prescribing of CAP for the treatment of optical conditions and in topical preparations is still common. CAP is also still prescribed frequently in developing countries due to its inexpensive high availability. With a long drug history across a number of countries, CAP has around 40 trade names, including Cedoctine (Egypt, intravenous preparation), Edrumycetin 250 (Bangladesh, capsule) and Vanmycetin (Hong Kong, eye drops).

Coimbatore Corporation to initiate action against eateries encroaching on parking space

The need to regulate roadside eateries in the city came up for discussion at the Coimbatore Corporation Council meeting on Tuesday. The issue was not about the quality of food served at the eateries. But the way they encroached upon the parking space.

The opening salvo was by the North Zone Chairman P. Rajkumar, who said that there was near zero parking space around the Nehru Stadium and near V.O.C. Park because the owners of the eateries spread out stools on roads, eating away parking space.

With the police regulating the parking of vehicles on Nanjappa Road, the city’s residents were left with little choice but to drive to the area around the Stadium to park.

Most of the vendors had 10 to 15 stools each and when spread over they occupied space that could otherwise accommodate two or three cars.

The quality of food they served needed to be verified if it was good, he said and also sought attention on the leftovers the eatery owners dump there. When they shut shop, they dumped food waste in the vicinity. The food so dumped attracted stray dogs.

The area around the Stadium and Park had seen an increase in the dog population and that threatened the elderly to went there for walking and sports persons who used the stadium around dawn.

Mr. Rajkumar wanted the Corporation to regulate the shops in such a way that they did not occupy parking space. A few other Councillors also joined him.

In doing so the Corporation should keep in mind that those who run the eateries were people from the lower strata of society and that their livelihood should not be disturbed, said S. Balan (Ward 62). Whether or not the eateries served quality food was a different issue. But they encroached upon the parking space and they needed to be regulated, said J. Sasirekha (Ward 72).

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Favorable Demographics and Rising Income Spurring Growth in the Indian Dairy Industry

Global market intelligence firm, Netscribes has launched its latest report on the “Dairy Market in India 2013.” The report elaborates the competitive market scenario of the Indian dairy market and its growth prospects in the ensuing years. The report states that the Indian dairy market is experiencing rising demand due to various driving factors, which in turn is providing huge opportunities for manufacturers to grow and operate in the market lucratively.

dairyThe Indian food and beverage industry is huge and highly competitive in nature. The industry comprises of several sub-sectors such as fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, dairy, marine products, grains and consumer foods. The dairy industry plays an important role in the socio-economic development of the nation by generating huge rural employment as well as cheap and nutritional food to the vast population. Though the dairy market in India is dominated by the unorganized sector, the organized sector has also shown remarkable growth in the last few years.

The report provides a snapshot of the Indian milk products industry which has witnessed several changes after the “Operation Flood” era. The dairy sector witnessed spectacular growth during 1971 and 1996 primarily due to integrated cooperative dairy development programmes conducted by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). Moreover, after liberalization and de-licensing in 1991, private sector also started entering the market, which further accelerated its growth. Major players of the Indian dairy market include Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Amul), Mother Dairy, Nestle India, Britannia Industries, Hatsun Agro and Heritage Foods, among others. In addition to this, a number of regional players have also entered the market in recent years, thereby making the market more competitive in nature.

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Punjab govt constitutes Punjab FDA by unifying food & drug departments

In a major step towards bringing the food and drug departments under a common regulatory body on the lines of Gujarat and Maharashtra, the Punjab government recently constituted the Punjab food and drug administration (FDA) by bringing both the Punjab state drug controlling authority and food authority under one roof.

With a view to streamline the work of this unified regulatory body in accordance with the respective laws, the state government last week appointed Husan Lal who earlier served as the secretary, social security, and managing director of Punjab Health Systems Corporation, as the first commissioner of the state FDA. With this strategic re-organisation, Punjab state joins the group of select few states in the country like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir to streamline and unify the two important departments under the same umbrella.

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Earlier, a high level delegation headed by Rupanjali Karthik, additional secretary, department of health and family welfare, government of Punjab had visited Gujarat FDCA in October last year to understand and gauge the effective ways of running the administration, prior to undergoing this change. Ajay Singla, state drug controller of the Punjab drug department, who was also a part of this delegation informed that this move signals the changing regulatory dynamics in the state, which will further help in strengthening the regulatory and administrative apparatus to meet new challenges.

With this reshuffling in the regulatory set up, the Punjab FDA will now be the central authority in the state overlooking the smooth functioning and monitoring of the various rules and regulations pertaining to the concerned Acts. “By unifying the two important departments under the same authority we will be able to implement the rules and regulations under the D&C Act and FSSAI Act more effectively throughout the state. Especially since the regulatory requirements and mechanisation for the implementation of both the Acts are almost in the same lines, helping us to effectively scrape the bottlenecks and other complications arising out of dual regulatory body,” Singla added.

According to Dr H G Koshia, commissioner, Gujarat Food & Drugs Control Administration, as a regulator it is more effective to regulate and monitor the food and the drugs departments under a common regulatory body. Further he pointed out that ever since the successful establishment of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, more states across the country are strongly considering to unify their food and drug departments under the same body for better administrative purpose.

It is reported that the state of Karnataka is seriously looking into the possibility of unifying the two important departments under the state health ministry under a uniform authority on the lines of Gujarat FDCA.

CAMPCO wants CFTRI to certify quality of imported arecanut

If the suggestion of a city-based cooperative finds takers, Mysore-based Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) could become the centre for testing the quality of imported arecanut.

This could prevent imports of substandard arecanut into the country.

Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd. (CAMPCO) has urged Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, to appoint the CFTRI as an authority to test the quality of imported arecanut.

At present there is no government-authorised arecanut testing facility in the country.

Konkodi Padmanabha, president of the cooperative, has written to the Minister urging him to instruct the CFTRI to set standard specifications of the characteristics of imported arecanut.

campco

“…We understand that till date there is no standard specification made available by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for arecanut…,” Mr. Padmanabha said in the letter dated June 3. As a result authorities at ports and those in the Public Health departments were not in a position to judge the quality of imported arecanut effectively.

The letter pointed out that an Arecanut Research and Development Foundation (ARDF) analysis here found four samples of imported arecanut unfit for human consumption due to fungal growth. The samples were sent by the Customs Department, Araria, Bihar, and the Revenue Intelligence Department, Muzaffarpur. But a court ruled that the ARDF was not a legally authorised agency to certify the quality of imported arecanut and the consignments were released later.

A testing centre was all the more important as 85 per cent (53,263 tonnes) of the arecanut imports in 2012-13 were from Bangladesh alone, as revealed by Nalin Kumar Kateel, MP.

M. Suresh Bhandary, managing director of CAMPCO, told The Hindu that food products had standard specifications regarding fat content, acid insoluble ash, PH level, total plate count, etc. In the absence of such specifications for arecanut, one cannot be sure of the quality of imported varieties, Mr. Bhandary said.

FSSAI proposes amendment to FSS Act; licensing clarified

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has notified Draft Regulations to amend the FSS (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.

In the said Draft Regulations, certain food additives have been proposed to be used in certain food products / ingredients in the quantity specified for those food products / ingredients.

FSSAI

The food additives proposed in the Draft Regulations to be used in certain food products are as under:

Polydextrose @ GMP in “Carbonated and Non-Carbonated Beverages”

Methyl Cellulose
max. 3% in “Salad Dressing / Mayonnaise”;
max. 2% in “Biscuits”;
max. 2% in “Preserved Chapatis”;
max. 3% in “Cakes”

Carboxymethyl Cellulose
@ GMP in “Dressing and Sauces”;
@ GMP in “Chocolates”;
@ GMP in “Sauces”

Potassium Iodate
– max. 50 mg / kg in “Bread”
Gellan gum @ GMP in “Sterilised and UHT dairy-based drinks.”

These additives were not in use for the said products earlier. But now the food authority has included these additives and invited objections or suggestions from the food and beverage industry on the use of these additives.

D V Malhan, executive secretary, All India Food Processors’ Association (AIFPA), told FnB News that the industry was looking into the draft amendment as it was recently made public. He added that these additives were there in the market but not allowed to be used for the said products.

“The authority must have done some study and documentation on the issue of these additives and we’d asked our members to comment on the issue. After getting comments we’ll discuss it and present suggestions before FSSAI,” he stated.

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Health department to crack down on gutka sale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HUBLI: The district administration will crack down on gutka manufacturers, dealers and sellers. Companies found manufacturing gutka will be penalized up to Rs 10 lakh while shops selling the product will have to forgo their licence and face legal consequences.

The administration has formed special teams consisting of health safety officers and health department officers to curb the sale of gutka in the district after the state has banned its sale. Special teams have been conducting raids and seizing gutka since a week. But now the teams will act tough penalizing violators.

The ban was a crucial step forward, but the challenge lay in its implementation. According to sources, after banning gutka products on June 1, initially, the government had not issued guidelines on how to implement the ban. But the district administration has received a clear set of guidelines on June 7 from the state government on how to deal with people who defy the ban. Based on this, the district administration chalked out a stringent action plan to act tough against gutka sellers and manufacturers, said sources.

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Ghulam Nabi Azad directs FSSAI to keep a tab on quality of packaged water

Taking cognisance of the complaints about the quality of packaged drinking water sold in the National Capital Region (NCR), health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has written to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s apex food regulator, directing it to check the bottling plants supplying packaged drinking water and the sources of the water.

The directive specifically pertained to the formation of surveillance teams to check the chemical content of water. It must be noted that there are standards set by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for the microbiological formation of the packaged water. BIS has set up limits for chemicals and heavy metals, in addition to other norms.

Ground water remains the source, but the process from purifying to bottling differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. According to the experts, the one- and two-litre variants of bottled water are generally safe. But in the cases of the 20-litre bottles and the mini-pouches, the chances of selling contaminated water are bright.

K C Chaudhary of Consumer Voice said, “There are serious flaws in bottling in the cases of the 20-litre bottles and pouches. Ground water is the source, but one of our previous studies, undertaken a few years ago, revealed that the norms were flouted as far as the 20-litre bottle was concerned.” He added that many of the samples failed during the testing, adding that the problem remained persistent, because the authorities responsible of implementing the regulations were not able to enforce it.

FnB News tried to contact some packaged water manufacturers in NCR, they refused to comment on their practices. Reports of these malpractices, which have emerged at a time when market research firms like Ikon Marketing Consultants estimate that packaged drinking water industry, which is growing at about 19 per cent per annum and could touch the Rs 10,000 crore-mark, are definitely a blow.

IBA

The Indian Beverage Association has welcomed the health ministry’s directive to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s apex food regulator, to look into the details of manufacturing practices of packaged water in the National Capital Region (NCR). Arvind Verma, general secretary, Indian Beverage Association (IBA), said the industry would comply with all the guidelines issued by the government, the industry.

Residential areas – New water hubs

Residential areas have emerged as the new hubs for unauthorised local packaged water units, whose proprietors are cashing in on the growing demand for bottled water and the failure of most municipal corporations in the country to meet it.

The fact that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) – the country’s apex food regulator – has paid no heed to health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s instruction that the water manufactured in these unauthorised units be checked yet has emboldened the business operators.

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2500 People in India Die Daily due to Tobacco Epidemic

The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. Mass media campaigns, graphic warnings and alternative crop options for tobacco growers can help stop or reduce the estimated 800,000-900,000 tobacco-attributable deaths per year in India, experts say.

According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) – India 2010, tobacco use is a major preventable cause of death and disease and is responsible 1 in 10 death among adults worldwide. Approximately 5.5 million people die around the world every year – with India accounting for nearly a fifth of this.

Shekhar Salkar, general secretary of National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE)-India said: “Everyday, almost 2,500 people die in India due to consumption of tobacco and smoking. Many people even suffer from asthma and bronchitis, other than cancer and heart attacks.”

According to WHO findings, hard-hitting anti-tobacco advertisements and graphic pack warnings, especially those that include pictures, have reduced the number of children who begin smoking and increased the number of smokers who quit in many countries.

In India, the average age of starting tobacco use is before 15 years, according to the GATS – India 2010 report.

Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, executive director at Voluntary Health Association of India, said “glamorisation of smoking” impacts young people, but counter messages during smoking scenes in films help in discouraging people.

It is believed that if celebrities are shown smoking, it influences impressionable minds. To counter that, a new law mandating a disclaimer about the evils of tobacco use has to be flashed while showing smoking scenes in films or on television.

To make disclaimers more efffecitve, Salkar felt they need to be more creative and innovative.

“A brief interview of those who were addicted to tobacco or cigarettes should be shown instead of the same old images,” Salkar told IANS.

For instance, filmmakers can attach clippings of celebrities talking about the harmful effects of tobacco with their films, he added.

Different people have different reasons to smoke. There is a segment of young smokers who resort to cigarettes to de-stress themselves. For such smokers, medical aid is the best option.

“Some students like to smoke so that they can study all night, some do it due to failed relationships or bad results. Smoking is not the answer. They need to take medical help or exercise, do yoga and relax the mind,” Salkar said.

Food habits can also help to a certain extent in preventing smoking.

Annapurna Agrawal, nutritionist at Snap Fitness India, put it interestingly, saying the solution is “sitting in the refrigerator”. Drink milk or eat carrots before smoking, she advised.

Explaining why, she said: “When these are taken before smoking, a bitter taste develops, which can discourage people from smoking.”

Also, if fruits rich in Vitamin C like lemons, oranges and amla are consumed in large quantity, it reduces the urge to smoke, Agrawal added.

The other way to do it is by eating salty items like pickles and chips.

Mukhopadhyay felt that more than anything, it is about “self-determination” and “family support”.

Various kind of anti-tobacco campaigns, methods and schemes are underway, but Salkar thought the government needed to take better steps.

“The government needs to convince farmers to not grow tobacco. They should be given incentives for growing other crops. This should be done gradually otherwise there will be a rise in farmer suicides,” he said.

It seems that every government body is doing its bit.

Health & Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has said that while the livelihoods of tobacco growers cannot be endangered, there is need to work toward moving farmers and farm workers out of the tobacco industry.

“We cannot indefinitely tolerate a public health hazard in the name of protecting livelihoods,” the minister said after releasing GATS – India 2010.

Later the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the apex body to ensure food quality in the country, under its Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011 restricted the use of products that contain any substance that may be injurious to health.

Its immediate effect was when Madhya Pradesh banned gutka and pan masala. Kerala, Mizoram, Gujarat, Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Delhi soon followed and most recent to join the list is Tamil Nadu.

Another area that needs to be focused on is establishing more and more economical rehabilitation centers to help addicts. Right now, the rehab centres and medications are few and far between and expensive.

FSSAI releases document differentiating between cassia & true cinnamon

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) – the country’s apex food regulator – recently released a document on cassia (known locally as taj) and cinnamon (locally known as dalchini). Among its contents were a brief description of coumarins and the differences between cassia and true cinnamon.

Introduction
Cassia is botanically known as Cinnamomum cassia blume; Cinnamomum burmannii; occidentalis; cassia tora; cassia obtusifolia; Cinnamomum cassia; Cinnamomum Cassia (nees) ex blume; Cinnamomum aromaticum (nees) syn; Cinnamomum burmannii (C G nees) blume and Cinnamumum loureini nees.

Cassia – which is incorrectly referred to as Ceylon cinnamon – is a member of the same family  to which cinnamon (which is also known as Chinese cinnamon, Java cinnamon, Padang cassia and Saigon cinnamon) belongs. However, what cassia and cinnamon do not have in common is their coumarin content.

Although cinnamon and cassia are related, they are not obtained from the same plant. They should be treated as separate foods, both from a nutritional and a health standpoint. Scientifically, there is only one true cinnamon, which is most commonly called Ceylon cinnamon and comes from the plant Cinnamomum zeylancium.

“In fact, cassia is often misnamed and mistaken for cinnamon, and is even marketed to the consumers through retail outlets as cinnamon. Since the price of the former is far lower than that of the former, traders have the tendency to mislabel cassia as cinnamon deliberately and encash the opportunity for their gain. Cassia is often used to adulterate cinnamon,” the FSSAI document pointed out.

Coumarins
Coumarins are naturally-occurring plant components present in cassia. They are chemical compounds from the benzopyrene family. While the level of naturally-occurring coumarins in Ceylon cinnamon appears to be very small and lower than the amount that could cause health risks, the level of naturally-occurring coumarins in cassia is higher and may pose a risk if consumed in large quantities regularly.

The chemical compositions of Ceylon cinnamon and cassia are different. In contrast to cassia, Ceylon cinnamon contains eugenol and benzyl-benzoate, but no (or at the most trace amounts of) coumarin. The level of coumarin in the bark of cassia varies considerably. They depend considerably on the respective sub-species or on the climatic conditions.

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Railways to launch SMS-based service for hygiene complaints

An On-site Passenger Complaint Redressal System (OPCRS) is being developed as envisaged in the Rail Budget 2013-14.

Railways have decided to launch an SMS-based service for immediate response to passenger complaints regarding housekeeping service in coaches.

The service will be launched on a few select trains to facilitate passengers to contact onboard staff through SMS or phone call for complaints related to cleanliness in coaches, toilets and other problems faced during journey.

railway-passengersAn On-site Passenger Complaint Redressal System (OPCRS) is being developed as envisaged in the Rail Budget 2013-14, a senior Railway Ministry official said.

The service is likely to be launched in either Mumbai Rajdhani or Bangalore Rajdhani as a pilot project soon.

As per the system, a passenger can send SMS for any issue related to coach housekeeping like dirty toilets, compartment or absence of liquid soap.

“Passengers will SMS his PNR on a common number like one being used for PNR inquiry,” the official said.

Railways have asked for a three-digit number from the Department of Telecommunication for the purpose.

Once the SMS is sent, the information will be registered on OPCRS connected with GSM network, and it will be immediately routed to a GSM hand held unit (mobile phone) available with housekeeping supervisor on train.

Simultaneously, an acknowledgement would be sent on the mobile phone of the complainant with a complaint ID with instruction to disclose the ID to the housekeeping supervisor after he attends to the problem to his satisfaction.

Housekeeping supervisor on receipt of passenger information would locate him, get briefing of his requirements and attend to the problem besides giving him feedback.

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“India is taking lead in standards”

With growing consumer awareness and involvement of developing nations in food safety dialogue, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the apex body for food standards in the world, is recasting itself to accommodate diverse views and propose a new strategic plan for 2014-2019.

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In an interview with F&B news, Codex Alimentarius Commission’s chairman Sanjay Dave spoke about issues such as its recasting for the plan and harmonisation of Indian food safety standards with the science-based food standards laid down by the Commission. Excerpts:

What are the priority areas for Codex?
This is Codex’s 50th year, and we are mainly focussing on the finalisation of the New Codex Strategic Plan for 2014-2019 and the best way to achieve consensus-building amongst participating nations.

Currently, 185 nations and the European Union (EU) are part of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. So we would emphasise more on deliberations to arrive at consensus, so that the decisions would be applied universally and evenly.

What comprises the Codex Strategic Plan?
Basically, we want to further strengthen our procedure to formulate the standards, codes of practice, etc. by using more science-based models. Also the focus is on to make such standards, which fulfil needs of all the countries, ensure safety of the health of people and promote fair practices in food trade amongst the partner countries.

The plan also deliberates upon how the developing countries could be involved in capacity-building and also we would like to envisage an efficient delivery system that would help in harmonisation of standards amongst the member nations.

How much progress is made on the strategic plan?
We are deliberating on the next six-year strategic plan scheduled for 2014-19 for last two years. This year a series of meetings have taken place in different regional meetings. As you know there are six regions for Codex purposes. These are Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and the South-West Pacific, Europe, the Near-East and Africa.

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Workshop on How to face a FSSAI / FDA Audit

Workshop-MockAudit

As we all know that the implementation of FSSA is catching its pace among all the food businesses. FSSA has raised a number of Non Compliance’s against food businesses that have gathered public attention. Food Business Operators are now recognizing the gravity of the situation that stares them in the face.

Equinox Labs has conceptualized a First of Its Kind Program in which a Workshop would be followed by an Onsite Mock Audit @ your Premises. This 2 days Program consists of a 1 day Workshop on How to face a FSSAI / FDA Audit followed by a Customized Onsite Mock Audit.

The training is customized for all FBO’s wherein the first part will help you understand the requirements of the law & the second part will guide you to be adept to handle an audit at your premise. Post the training, a mock audit of your premise, which is in lines with the requirements of FSSA, will be conducted, & non-conformities will be raised.

Key Takeaways of our 2 day Program:

  1. You will understand the expectations of FSSAI / FDA.
  2. You will get familiarized with the Audit Process.
  3. You will be alerted about the GAPS in your system and be able to fix them.
  4. You will be more confident to face a FSSAI / FDA Audit.

Who should attend this Workshop?

  • Hotels,
  • Restaurants,
  • Packaged Food Manufacturers,
  • Food Sellers and Re-sellers,
  • Canteens in Corporate Companies, Schools, Colleges, Hospitals, Government Institutions,
  • Food Importers and Exporters,
  • Raw Material Suppliers
    … all who are related to Food Businesses.

To book your seat or for any queries contact Ms. Rajashree Gajjal at +91 22 276 44 183 / +91 9920214898 or write to us at register@equinoxlab.com.

Note: To make this Interactive Workshop more effective, we are restricting the No. of Participants. The bookings will be done on a First-Come-First-Serve Basis.

 Click here to download the Agenda for the Workshop

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“Challenges facing FSSAI include licensing, registration”

The FSSAI has come under the scanner in recent times with regard to the implementation of food safety law in India and other pertinent issues. Keshav Desiraju, secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, Government of India, in a conversation with F&B news gives details. Excerpts:

 

The CEO and other top officials of FSSAI are either stepping down or seeking transfers. Some key posts are still vacant. Could you throw light on this?
As you are aware, the FSSAI has been set up fairly recently and is an autonomous regulatory body under the health and family welfare ministry as per the guidelines laid down in the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
The chief executive officer is appointed by the government and other officers working in FSSAI are on deputation. The authority floated a vacancy notice in leading newspapers recently to fill the posts that became vacant because of the transfers or deputations on foreign service term or short-term contract basis.

Adequate steps are being taken to ensure that the authority is manned by well-qualified and experienced officers.

What steps is the ministry taking to implement food safety laws in India? What are the areas of focus and major concern with respect to food safety?
The passing of the FSSA, 2006 – which led to the creation of the FSSAI – led to the shift from multi-level to a single line of control with the focus on self-compliance rather than on the regulatory regime as far as food safety is concerned.

It also introduced uniform licensing and registration regime across the Centre and the states. One of the major roles of FSSAI is the setting up of science-based food standards by harmonising with the Codex standards, wherever possible.

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Traders, restaurant owners and distributors exempt from annual returns

acra-annual-returns-250x

Traders, restaurant owners and distributors have been excluded from filing annual returns by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s apex food regulator. Their exclusion is a reprieve, because earlier, all licensed food business operators (FBOs) with an annual turnover of Rs 12 lakh and above were directed to submit their annual returns in the prescribed format (Form D-1) by May 31. Failure to do so would result in a fine of Rs 100 per day being slapped on them.

Ajit Setiya, president, Poona Merchants’ Chamber, said, “Since the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, came into effect in August 2011, traders have been facing a host of problems. Apart from filing annual returns, they have had to provide information about each of the goods they deal in, the weight of each good, and its purchase and sales values. Only the owners of milk businesses have been asked to submit half-yearly returns in the format prescribed in Form D-2.”

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