FOOD-LAW-ERA FSSAI ! LAWs ! UPDATEs ! CIRCULARs ! COMPLIANCE ! November 2022

FOOD SECTOR / INDUSTRY IN INDIA

“Food Law” refers to the legislation which regulates the production, trade and handling of food and hence covers the regulation of food control, food safety, quality and relevant aspects of food trade across the entire food chain.

Governments is drafting, amending and updating food safety and quality laws and implementing regulations and other connected acts, to strengthen the system of food control and surveillance, in accordance with international law and best practices.

Each nation administers its own food laws and standards. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been established under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which consolidates various acts & orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments. FSSAI has been created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

Spices Board of India

Spices Board is the flagship organization for the development and worldwide promotion of Indian spices. The Board is an international link between the Indian exporters and the importers abroad.

Notification Index – October, 2022:

Sl.ParticularsLink (s)
1Empanelment of Manufacture/fabricator of Post Harvest, Machineries /device under the programme of Spices Board-reg.Click Here
2Empanelment of Manufacture/fabricator of Post Harvest Machineries/device under the programme of Spices Board-reg.Click Here
3Information on Registration Regulations prescribed by People’s Republic of ChinaClick Here
4Advisory for export of Spices & Spice products to MoroccoClick Here
5Empanelment of Manufacture/fabricator of Post Harvest Machineries/device under the programme of Spices Board-reg.Click Here
6Assistance to exporters under the Export Development & Promotion Programs of Spices Board-reg.Click Here

Regulatory Updates:

A ‘Notification’ means a notification published in the Official Gazette and the expressions ‘notify’ and ‘notified’ shall be construed accordingly. Any Notification has to be notified by way of publication and once it is done, it is said to be notified.

Lots of Amendments came in from time to time (including Covid-19 Relaxations) in this sector / industry and some key amendments are reproducing here for your kind perusal:

Notifications Of the month of October, 2022

Sl.ParticularsRelevant Link (s)
1Clarification with respect to application for vegan logo endorsement [Updated on:07-10-2022]Click Here
2Approved test methods for detection of Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 in Fortified Rice [Updated on:08-10-2022]Click Here
3Requirement of registration of foreign food manufacturing facilities as per Food Safety and Standards (Import) First Amendment Regulations, 2022 dated 03.11.2021 [Updated on:10-10-2022]Click Here
4Appointment of FSSAIs Designated Officer for Central Licensing under Section 36 of FSS Act, 2006 [Updated on:11-10-2022]Click Here
5Clarification with respect to the qualification of Food Safety Officer [Updated on:12-10-2022]Click Here
6Advisory- facility of advance processing of Bill of Entry in Food Import Clearance System (FICS) of FSSAI [Updated on:13-10-2022]Click Here
7Food Safety and Standards (Approval for Non-Specified Food and Food Ingredients) First Amendment Regulations, 2022 [Uploaded : 14-10-2022]Click Here
8Food    Safety    and    Standards            (Labelling       and            Display) Amendment Regulations, 2022  [Uploaded on : 14-10-2022]Click Here
9Restricted entry of food items in under specific ports [Updated: 17-10-2022]Click Here
10Extension of facility of Provisional NOC to registered Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs) [Updated on:18-10-2022]Click Here
11Special drives to check adulteration of sweets, savouries, milk and milk products like khoya, paneer etc. during the festive seasonClick Here
12Clarification with respect to alcoholic beverages imported into India in bulk containers [Updated on:20-10-2022]Click Here

Notifications for September, 2022 – for Public Comments

Sl.ParticularsLink (s)
    1Draft Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (Recruitment and Appointment) First Amendment Regulations, 2022 [Uploaded on : 18-10- 2022] – The objections or suggestions, if any, may be addressed as per the attached format to the Chief Executive Officer, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Food and Drug Administration Bhawan, Kotla Road, New Delhi – 110002 or submit comments online or emailed to estt@fssai.gov.in within 60 days from uploading of draft notification    Click Here

Key Notification in Brief:

  1. FSSAI  on Approval for Non-Specified Food and Food Ingredients First Amendment Regulations, 2022
The Food Safety and Standards (Approval for Non-Specified Food and Food Ingredients) First Amendment Regulations, 2022

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on October 12, 2022, issued the Food Safety and Standards (Approval for Non-Specified Food and Food Ingredients) First Amendment Regulations, 2022 to further amend the Food Safety and Standards (Approval for Non-Specified Food and Food Ingredients) Regulations, 2017.

The apex body of Food Safety also invited objections and suggestions from all persons likely to be affected thereby, before the expiry of the period of sixty days from the date on which the copies of the Official Gazette containing the said notification were made available to the public. Notably, the copies of the Gazette were made available to the public on the 24th September, 2021.

  • As per the amendment, the manufacturer or importer of non-specified food shall submit an application in FORM – I along with necessary documents and fee to the Food Authority.
  • Regulation 4(2) has been modified to insert that on preliminary scrutiny, deficiencies, if any, the Food Authority must inform the applicant within a period of forty-five days from the date of receipt of the application.
  • The Food Business Operator shall submit the information sought for within a period of thirty days from the issuance of the letter.
  • The Food Authority may appoint an expert committee or panel to examine the application submitted by the Food Business Operator.
  • Food Authority may either grant approval or reject the application, as per FORM-II, on the basis of the safety assessment of the article of food.
  • After the approval of the product by the Food Authority, the Food Business Operator shall conduct and provide a post market surveillance data on relevant safety and efficacy parameters, within one year of placing the product in the market whenever asked by the Authority. To read more:Click Here

2. Foreign food manufacturers need FSSAI registration for exporting milk, meat products

FSSAI shed light on the requirement of registration of foreign food manufacturing facilities as per Food Safety and Standards (Import) First Amendment Regulations, 2021.

It has been decided that registration of foreign food manufacturing facilities falling under following food categories, who are intended to export these food products shall be mandatory:

  • Milk and Milk Products;
  • Egg powder
  • Infant Food
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Meat and Meat Products including Poultry, Fish and their products;

Effective Date: This will be effective from February 1, 2023.

The FSSAI has requested all competent authorities of exporting countries to provide the list of existing manufacturers and those who are intended to export these food products to India.

Union minister Piyush Goyal earlier asked the industry to ensure their products meet international quality standards and help build a ‘Brand India’ as the country aims to become a developed nation by 2047.

Those who are intended to export such food products to India as per the format attached at email  id: dramit.sharma@fssai.gov.in and import@fssai.gov.in

To read more:Click Here

3. FSSAI’s Gazette  Notification  on  Food  Products  Standards  and Food Additives First Amendment Regulations 2022

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) published the draft of the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2020. Notably, it was published as required by sub-section (1) of section 92 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (34 of 2006), vide notification of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, File No. 1-116/Scientific Committee/Notif.28.4/2010-FSSAI(1), dated the 27th August, 2020, published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part III, section 4.

On 13th September 2022, FSSAI published the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) First Amendment Regulations, 2022. The amendment is regarding the inclusion of standard for Fermented Soybean Curd and Fermented Soybean Curd (made with S. thermophilus + L. bulgaricus). This amendment comes into effect from 1st April 2023. To read more: Click Here

Compliance Mechanism under FSSAI

  • Mandatory Compliance w.e.f. 1st April 2021

FSSAI Registration is a basic license and it is required for all the FBOs involved in the small-scale food business. Online submission of Annual Returns on Food Safety Compliance System (FOSCOS – Click Here) shall be made mandatory for food businesses involved in manufacturing and importing of food products, wef FY 2020-21 (window for return filing for FY 2020-21 will open wef 1″ April 2021 onwards).

Food Safety Compliance System (FoSCoS) is an enhanced version of Food Licensing and Registration System (FLRS) which was launched in 2012 for issuance of pan-India FSSAI Licenses and Registration. FoSCoS shall also be integrated with other platforms of Government of India such as GST, PAN, MCA etc. further ease out the processes for businesses and also ensure a 360 degree profiling of businesses.

·      Timeline extended for compliance with moisture content for mixed millet flour

The Indian Food Authority has issued a direction for extension of timeline for compliance with the revised specifications of ‘Moisture’ content for mixed millet flour and the compliance with the quality parameters of ‘Alcoholic Acidity and Total Dietary Fibre’ in bajra (pearl millet), jowar (sorghum), multigrain and mixed millet flour.

A FSSAI statement, in this regard, stated that it has been decided to keep enforcement of these parameters in abeyance till December 31, 2022. To read more: Click Here

Legal Metrology related Amendment:

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has released the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Amendment (Amendment) Rules, 2022 to amend the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011.

Central Government has extended the Due Date for the implementation date of Unit Sale Price declaration till 01.12.2022.

A packaged commodity of less than one kg quantity should have ‘unit sale price’ per gram along with the total MRP of the product (subject to Legal Metrology provisions related t exemption). Earlier applicable due date was 01.10.2022. But now it is effective from 01st December, 2022.

·       Link of the Notification: Click Here

Relief for directors of retail firms as govt amends Legal Metrology rules

In a major relief to board members of retail companies and manufacturers of packaged goods, the government has amended the Legal Metrology (General) Rules, 2011, removing the mandatory clause of holding its nominated directors accountable for any violation under the rules. The government has pointed out that the changes are being made as part of the ease of doing business.

The responsibility for any alleged violation should be on a nominated official who is in direct contact with the running of that business.

As per sub-section 2 of section 49 of the Legal Metrology Act, 2009 companies were required to nominate any one of its directors as a person responsible for the business of the Company, who would then be prosecuted in case of a violation.

The government has amended an archaic rule that so far used to hold the directors of retail companies directly liable for any violations, inconsistency or any sort of pricing mismatch on the price tags of products they sell in stores.

By allowing companies to nominate officers who are actually involved in day-to-day running of a business unit, the long-pending Amendment seeks to improve adherence and ease of doing business.

CORPORATE NEWS

  1. FSSAI clarifies on qualification of FSO in regard to terms like degree

The FSSAI has issued a clarification with respect to the qualification of food safety officer (FSO) in response to various RTI applications seeking clarity about terms like ‘degree’ mentioned in the FSS Act and rules thereunder.

According to the FSSAI, several representations and RTIs (Right to Information) were received by the authority seeking clarification in respect of the term ‘degree’, ‘degree in medicine’ and ‘equivalent/recognised qualification’ specified in the qualification of FSO under FSS Act.

The apex food authority has stated that the degree means degrees as prescribed in subsection 3

of section 22 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, while for the ‘degree in medicine’ the FSSAI has referred to the Allahabad High Court order.

In its order the High Court observed that degree in medicine does not include any other system of medicine and it will not be proper to include or read any other degree awarded by councils under the other Acts in to degree of medicine. Medicine is defined only under Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, and not in other enactments.

According to the FSS Act, FSOs are appointed based on a degree in food technology or dairy technology or biotechnology or oil technology or agricultural science or veterinary science or bio chemistry or microbiology or master’s degree in chemistry or degree in medicine from a recognised university or any other equivalent/recognised qualification notified by the Central Government. Read more at: Click Here

2. Food safety: FSSAI tightens labelling norms for breads

The Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) is tightening labelling norms for breads at a time when a wide number of varieties with health claims are available on retail shelves.

From May next year, bread-makers will need to ensure that a product labelled as whole wheat bread is made of at least 75 per cent whole wheat flour and brown bread comprises at least 50 per cent whole wheat flour.

Similarly, companies and bakeries will need to ensure that the flour used to make multi-grain bread consists of certain minimum amount of grains other than wheat. “The minimum amount of specialty Ingredient (grains other than wheat ) in case of multigrain bread shall be minimum 10 per cent in the first year of enforcement and, thereafter, it shall be 20 per cent,” the official notification added.

For the first time, the food safety authority has also notified standards for speciality breads. In such products, companies use speciality ingredients as prefix to the term ‘bread’ on the labels. For instance, in the case of oatmeal bread, flour used to make the product must have at least 15 per cent oats content on a 100 gms basis. Similarly, a product labelled as protein-enriched bread must have at least 15 per cent edible protein content in the flour (100 gms basis).

Norms have been notified for garlic bread, honey bread, milk bread, cheese bread, raisin bread, rye bread, and bran bread, among others. These standards are part of the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Second Amendment Regulations, 2022.

Read More at:Click Here)

3. Legal action can be taken against companies selling ‘mother’s milk’ under dairy

license: Govt.

The government has taken a tough stand against the sale of “mother’s milk” or breast milk under a dairy license. Besides this, orders have also been given to cancel the license of any company selling similar products in the name of milk or dairy products and take legal action if needed.

Legal action can be taken against food business operators or FBOs selling breast milk as sanctioned under the FSS Act 2006.

In July this year, the government had cancelled the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) license of one company for selling “mother’s milk” while having a dairy license. The government has made it clear that the sale of mother’s milk will not be allowed in India.

4. Firecracker shop owners in Anantapur, Sri Sathya Sai districts fined for violating Legal Metrology norms

Officials of the Department of Legal Metrology, on October 24 (Monday), raided 19 retail and wholesale firecrackers shops in Anantapur and Sri Sathya Sai districts and imposed a penalty of ₹48,000 for selling products that did not have basic product information on the packages.

Assistant Controller of Legal Metrology N. Swamy and Inspector M. Mohammed Ghouse, along with other staff members, inspected the records and packets kept for sale to check for the Maximum Retail Price (MRP), address and contact number of the manufacturers, and consumer helpline numbers on the packages. (Read More at: Click Here)

5. Changes in food packaging rules to come into effect from December 1; consumers to get accurate product details

Key Highlights:
  • The new packaging rule will affect 19 items including foods and cement
    • Ministry of Consumer Affairs have extended the due date till December 1, 2022
    • Consumers to get more details about pricing, quantity

The central government has made some key changes in the rules related to the packaging of food items and some other goods including cement. Earlier, the new rule was to come into effect on October 1 but the due date has been extended and the rules will come into effect from December 1, said a notification by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

The new rules will apply to a total of 19 types of items. These items include milk, tea, biscuits, edible oil, flour, bottled water, baby food, pulses and cereals, cement bags, bread and detergents. The key changes that you will see on the packets of these items will include MRPs in the round figure. This means, the prices of these items cannot be Rs 110.5, it should be either Rs 110 or Rs 111, with no midway figure to be allowed.

It will also be necessary to write the manufacturing date on the imported products. The domestically manufactured products already contain manufacturing and expiring dates.

QR Code on Electronic Products: Earlier in July this year, the Department of Consumer Affairs vide the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities), (Second Amendment) Rules 2022 had allowed electronic products to declare certain mandatory declarations through the QR Code for a period of one year, if not declared in the package itself.

The amendment allowed the industry to declare the elaborated information in digital form through the QR Code. Earlier, all the prepackaged commodities including the electronic products are required to declare all the mandatory declarations as per the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities), Rules 2011 on the package.

The department aims to enable greater use of technology in this digital era to declare the such declaration through the QR Code, which can be scanned to view declarations like the address of the manufacturer, packer, or importer, the common or generic name of the commodity, its size and dimensions, and customer care information other than a phone number and email address.

FSSAI CASE LAWS

‘Tobacco Is Not Food To Be Regulated Under FSSA’-Delhi High Court Sets Aside Ban On Gutka, Pan Masala In NCT

A Bench of Justice Gaurang Kanth of the Delhi High Court, quashed and set aside the impugned notification of the Food Safety Commissioner prohibiting the manufacture, storage, distribution, or sale of Gutka, Pan Masala, flavored/scented tobacco, Kharra, and similar products in the interest of public health for one year throughout the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi.

Case Title:

Sugandhi Snuff King Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. v. Commissioner (Food Safety) Government of NCT of Delhi (a batch of petitions)

Justice Gaurang Kanth observed that the impugned notification by Food Safety Commissioner exceeded its power and authority in contravention of the powers vested in him under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

The single-judge stated that it is aware of the harmful effects and diseases caused by tobacco use, both smokeless and smoking and believes that tobacco, in any form, not just smokeless but also smoking, is harmful to public health, and thus condemns and discourages the use of any form of tobacco.

Court further stated that tobacco and nicotine are harmful to health; however, the present case involves legal issues that cannot be decided solely based on public opinion and sentiment but must be decided and settled based on a fair interpretation of the law in light of judicial precedents.

Furthermore, the court stated that the Parliament has never intended to impose an absolute ban on the manufacture, sale, distribution, and storage of tobacco and/or tobacco products. However, the Parliament intends to regulate the trade and commerce of tobacco and tobacco products by the COTPA, a Central Act dealing with the tobacco industry.

The court then noted that Section 30(2)(a) stipulates that the maximum period for such prohibitory order may be passed is not more than one year.

Court also stated that the distinction sought to be made between smokeless tobacco and smoking tobacco to justify the issuance of the contested Notifications violates Article 14 of the Constitution.

Noting that the Food Safety Commissioner exceeded its power and authority in contravention of the powers vested in him under the FSSAI, the court quashed and set aside the impugned order. Accordingly, disposed of the pending applications.

FDA file 5,768 cases in three years, only 1,168 convicted

According to FDA officials, the food safety officers draw in food samples and send them to laboratories recognised by FSSAI for analysis. In cases where samples are found to be non- conforming to the provisions of the FDA Act, recourse is taken to penal provisions under the FSS Act.

In the last three years, the Maharashtra food and drugs department (FDA) has filed 5,768 cases of food samples found non –conforming and convicted only 1,168, as per the data released by FDA,

In 2018-19, FDA analysed 4,742 samples for quality and standard purpose. Out of which 1,036 samples found non-conforming. FDA had filed 857 criminal cases and 910 civil cases of which only 18 cases convicted and 529 cases penalties were recovered . In 2019-20 FDA analysed 5,962 samples and 1,030 were non-conforming. FDA filed 1,150 civil cases of which 666 were convicted. However, FDA filed 1,045 criminal cases in which only 135 convicted. In 2020-21, FDA analysed 4,733 samples and 874 were non-conforming. FDA filed 911 civil cases of which 269 were convicted. FDA also filed 795 criminal cases of which 80 were convicted.

A senior FDA official, requesting anonymity said, “Majority cases are pending, hence the conviction rate is low. To reduce pendency government has segregated criminal and civil cases. All labelling, misbranding, substandard food cases are filed under civil category. However, all unsafe food related cases are coming under criminal cases.In many criminal cases, advocate challenged lab report, sample, sampling method, testing. Hence there is a delay.”

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Every effort has been made to keep the information cited in this Newsletter error-free. Suggestions and feedback to improve the task are welcome. The contents of this newsletter are for information purposes only and do not constitute an advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. In no event the author shall be liable for any direct, indirect, special or incidental damage resulting from or arising out of or in connection with the use of this information.

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