Food Safety Regulations Circulars- Updates Compliance Management for May, 2022

Food Sector / Industry  in India

The Indian food industry is poised for huge growth, increasing its contribution to world food trade every year. Food is as essential for living as air is for breathing. But food security means something more than getting two square meals. In India, the food sector has emerged as a high-growth and high-profit sector due to its immense potential for value addition, particularly within the food processing industry. The manufacturing sector is moving towards digitization and automation because it’s looking for high productivity and maximize sustainability.

The food processing industry is forever evolving and ensures a seamless and nutritious supply of food products to consumers. The Indian food processing industry is expected to grow from $263 billion in 2020 and hit the $470 billion mark by the end of 2025.

COVID -19 was very challenging for every industry, but the food processing industry took the challenge with a stride and found new opportunities. As the world evolved and adopted innovations, the consumers’ lifestyles, behaviours, preferences as well as purchasing patterns also changed. The shift in consumer preferences has been the major reason behind the increased production and distribution of food products at the global level.

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 – April, 2022:

Sl.ParticularsLink (s)
1Official Certificate for Export of Spices and Spice Products to E.U & U K – Revised list of Authorised signatoriesClick Here
2MRL Prescribed by IndonesiaClick 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    April, 2022

Sl.ParticularsRelevant Link (s)
1Operationalization of FSS (Health Supplements, Nutraceuticals, Food for Special Dietary Use, Food for Special Medical Purpose and Prebiotic and Probiotic Food), Regulations, 2022 [FSS (Nutra) Regulations, 2022] [Updated on:30-03-2022]Click Here
2Implementation of FSS (Food for Infant Nutrition) Regulations, 2020 [Updated on:30-03-2022]Click Here
  3Operationalization of FSS (Health Supplements, Nutraceuticals, Food for Special Dietary Use, Food for Special Medical Purpose and Prebiotic and Probiotic Food), Regulations, 2022 [FSS (Nutra) Regulations, 2022] [Updated on:30-03-2022]  Click Here
  4SOP for Mandatory Modification of old methodology License (initially granted from FLRS portal) or migration of State License for Manufacturing of Nutraceuticals and related products wef 01.04.2022 [Updated on:31-03- 2022]  Click Here
5FSSAI tightens vigil against violations related to labelling of coffee – chicory mixture products [Updated on:01-04-2022]Click Here
  6Notification of Authorised Officers under Section 25 read with Section 47 (5) of FSS Act, 2006 and Regulation 13 (1) of FSS (Imports) Regulations, 2017 for Karnataka location [Updated on:06-04-2022]  Click Here
7Declaration with respect to Veg or Non-Veg Logo for source of ingredient including additives on the food label [Updated on:06-04-2022]Click Here
8Direction to ensure strict enforcement to check the blending of Mustard oil with other edible oil [Updated on:08-04-2022]Click Here
9Sample size of high priced imported alcoholic beverages [Updated on:11- 04-2022]Click Here
10Misleading advertisement and marketing of ORS substitute Products [Updated on:11-04-2022]Click Here

Notifications for March, 2022– for Public Comments

Sl.ParticularsLink (s)
1NA 

Key Notification in Brief:

1. FSSAI’s Drive to Ensure BIS License for PDW and MW Manufacturers

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) has received several complaints that a number of manufacturers of packaged drinking water (PDW) and Mineral water (MW) are manufacturing the products on FSSAI State/Central Licenses without having the BIS Certification which is mandatory for  the sale of such products in the country.

FSSAI has drawn reference to its previous order dated 26.03.2021 which directed that FBOs can upload BIS license or copy of letter indicating recording of application for BIS license on FoSCoS portal at the time of applying for new license/or PDW and MW from FSSAI.   The apex body of food safety has further directed that after getting the BIS license,, the FBOs should furnish all the required details in online Annual Return available in FoSCoS portal.

The FSSAI has asked to share the actions taken in this matter by 31.05.2022 positively. The decision has been taken by FSSAI with approval of all the Competent Authority.

2.   FSSAI’s Direction on strict Enforcement to check blending of Mustard Oil with other Oils

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has referred its earlier notification dated 8 March 2021 regarding the blending of Mustard Oil for production of Multi Sourced Edible Oil (MSEO) has been prohibited w.e.f. 08.06.2021.

Later, the apex body of food safety ordered to carry out inspection drives of all such units that were licensed for production of Mustard BEVO/MSEO and also to check and ensure whether any prohibited blending of mustard oil was being carried out after the given date. In order to curb the blending of mustard oil with other oils, FBOs are requested to take required actions in the matter. FBOs are required to carry out surveillance and enforcement drives at regular intervals both at the manufacturing and market levels to ensure effective enforcement of the declared prohibition of blending of mustard oil in the respective area of jurisdiction.

FSSAI has also clarified that the reports of this matter should be shared on regular intervals at enforcement1@fssai.gov.in The first report may be shared by 15th May, 2022.The decision has been taken with the approval of the Competent Authority.Notification Link: Click Here

3. FSSAI Regarding Sample Size of High Priced Imported Alcoholic Beverages

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has received representations from laboratory and field officers, insisting for a significantly higher quantity of samples of high priced imported alcoholic beverages which is in contravention to the quantity mentioned vide order dated 06.03.2017.

In the similar wake, it is again reiterated to all labs to carry out the analysis with 100 ml quantity and Authorized Officers shall ensure that in case of import of high priced liquor, if miniature/representative sample of 100 ml ( in two numbers) is available, then only miniature sample shall be drawn for laboratory analysis. FSSAI has also clarified that any difficulty in implementation should be brought to its notice.

Notification Link: Click Here

Compliance Mechanism under FSSAI

FSSAI Return Filings:

Sl.Type of ReturnParticularDue Date
1FSSAI Form D1To be filed by Every food manufacturer, importer etc.31.05.2022
2FSSAI Form D2 (half-yearly return)To be filed by Manufacturer of milk/milk products30.03.2022 / 30.09.2022

* All the food manufacturers, importers, labellers, re-labellers, packers, and re-packers, etc. need to file FSSAI Form D1 mandatorily, either online or in physical form as designated by the Food Safety Commissioner.

*The Form D2 is a half-yearly return and isn’t for each food business operator. Alternatively, this needs to be deposited by each FSSAI license holder who is connected in the business of manufacturing or importing milk and/or milk products.

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).

Penalty for various issues under FSSAI as stated below:

Penal Amount will be imposed on the companies / Food Business Operators (FBOs) that do not comply with the FASSI Rules and Regulations as amended from time to time, while dealing with F & B (Food and Beverages) products.

Following is the list of items on which penalties may be imposed –

  • Carrying out business without the license issued by FASSI.
  • Selling food items that are inferior in quality of what has been promised.
  • Sub-Standard food items.
  • Non- Branded food items.
  • The extraneous item contained in food.
  • Unhygienic or bad sanitation of food items.

Corporate News

1.   Zomato defers new food safety policy to May 3, FSSAI agrees with proposed steps

Zomato has decided to defer its new food hygiene and safety policy to May 3 amid the restaurant industry’s concerns regarding its implementation by the Gurugram-based food- delivery platform.

ET reported on April 15 that changes to the restaurant aggregator’s ‘Severe Food Quality’ rules

– which were to take effect from April 18 – can “temporarily disable” online orders if consumers complain about a restaurant’s food quality.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), for its part, has supported the steps proposed by Zomato.

In an email sent to restaurants on Friday, Zomato has sought their feedback. “We seek feedback from all our restaurant partners and would like to understand from you how this framework can be strengthened so it can be in the best interest of all stakeholders involved,” Zomato said in the email. ET has reviewed a copy of the email. Read more at: Click Here

2. FSSAI orders licence review of packaged drinking water bottlers

The food regulator has asked food commissioners of states and union territories to review the licences granted to bottlers following mounting complaints about packaged still and mineral water being sold without BIS certification in the scorching summer heat. To sell packaged drinking water and mineral water, a BIS number is very important for the product.

Inoshi Sharma, executive director, regulatory compliance at the Food Safety Standard Authority of India (FSSAI), who wrote the letters to states and union territories, told Mint, “We received this tip off in one of our meetings with Packaged Drinking Water (PDW) Manufacturers Association and we immediately took action.”

“Many times, what happens when people seek FSSAI licence, (is that) they write to us that they have applied for BIS certificate, and we give licence to them on this assurance that they are also seeking a BIS certificate. We don’t know what happens and why food business operators do not take BIS numbers.

“Therefore, we have written to the States/UTs to conduct a special drive to ensure (if) all manufacturers of PDW and mineral water have BIS number or not, and accordingly action will be taken.” (Read More at: Click Here

3.   Food labelling must be clear & pro-consumer

The eagerness of the FSSAI in tilting towards the star rating is suspect. Its choice of the IIM-A and a private consulting firm to jointly conduct the study is also not above board. Given the high industry stakes involved in labelling, the FSSAI should have commissioned public-funded research institutes with experience in nutrition, such as the National Institute of Nutrition and AIIMS, to generate the necessary evidence about different types of labelling.

The issue of the front-of-pack labelling on processed and ultra-processed food products has been hanging fire for a long time. Big food companies globally have been trying hard to stall any kind of health labelling on their products ever since the World Health Organisation in 2015 recommended the governments introduce health labels that are easy to understand and interpret. Such labels should help consumers to identify healthier products.

The food industry does not want any health labelling on junk food and is working overtime to have the front-of-pack labelling diluted to the extent that it becomes meaningless. Among various options of labelling available are ‘multiple traffic light’ labels, health star labelling, warning labels and Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) etc. Traffic light labels use red, green and amber coloured symbols to inform the consumer if the product is healthy or not, with red indicating ‘unhealthy’. Health star rating, on the other hand, rates a product on a nutrition and health scale, and gives stars. Warning labels directly warn consumers about excess amounts of sugar, saturated fats etc.

All of them are being used in different countries and some research data is available about their effectiveness or otherwise.

Predictably, both the food industry and the FSSAI have lapped up this finding and are in favour of a health star rating. In any case, the front-of-pack labelling will be voluntary for many years and will apply only to certain categories of products whenever it becomes mandatory. The industry will be happy with the health star ratings because the whole idea originated from the junk food industry in Europe when labelling was first discussed. Giving a ‘health’ tag to a junk food product — even if it is a single star — defeats the very purpose of discouraging consumers from buying junk. Star ratings can be easily manipulated, as the experience from elsewhere shows.  (Read More at: Click Here)

4.   Give ‘warning’ label, not health star rating on junk food packages: Experts tell to FSSAI

The government should issue a warning’ label on packaged junk foods instead of health star ratings as they are misleading and doing more harm to customers than good, health experts said on Wednesday. Health star rating is a labelling system that grades packaged foods on the scale of one to five stars.

If the government is serious about the epidemic of obesity and non-communicable diseases, the consumer needs to be cautioned about junk foods through warning’ labels, public health experts gathered at the National Conclave on Sustainable Food Systems’, organized by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in Nimli, Rajasthan, said

Front-of-pack labelling on packaged foods was first recommended by an the FSSAI-led committee formed in 2013.

CSE was part of this committee. FSSAI then came up with a draft regulation in 2018, which had strict thresholds limits to know unhealthy levels based on those developed by the WHO for countries like India in the South-East Asia Region.

The sole objective of the stakeholder consultations, which were heavily dominated by the packaged food industry, was to come up with a labelling system, which is industry-friendly, said Khurana, who was part of these consultations, adding that all this while, FSSAI has been insensitive to the information needs of the consumer.

We have submitted our concerns to FSSAI. It can’t allow a system that will effectively nudge the consumer to make unhealthy choices. It will mislead the consumer because of its design, algorithm and inclusion of positive nutrients in the calculation. It can’t allow relaxed limits and voluntary adoption, Narain said. (Read More at: Click Here)

5. Consumer organisations urge FSSAI to do more consultations before introducing HSR

Consumer organisations have urged the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to hold wider consultations with stakeholdersbefore introducing Health Star Rating (HSR) labelling for packaged food products.

Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS), Jaipur, Consumer Voice, New Delhi, and Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG), Chennai have questioned the decision of FSSAI in going ahead with the HSR label without proper consultation with the stakeholders and that too when processes are in the initial stages, they said in a statement.

The activists felt that FSSAI needs to give equal or even more importance to the recent findings of the medical fraternity of AIIMS institutions which suggests that warning labels are most suitable for the Indian context as it deters consumers from consuming packaged food that is high in salt, sugar and fats.

The consumer activists also pointed out that the HSR label, which the IIM-A study recommends, is adopted in Australia and New Zealand and the experience from both countries is disappointing.  (Read More at: Click Here)

FSSAI CASE LAWS

After TN case, NHRC directs chairperson of FSSAI to ensure food safety at hotels, restaurants

NHRC has directed the chairperson of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to ensure compliance of food safety norms at hotels and restaurants in wake of the death of a 10-year-old girl after consuming food at a restaurant in Tamil Nadu, officials said.

This comes in wake of the death of a 10-year-old girl after consuming food at a restaurant in Tamil Nadu.

According to proceedings related to the Tamil Nadu case, the complainant, an advocate in the Supreme Court, had drawn attention of the commission towards an incident in September 2021, wherein a 10-year-old girl had died and more than 30 people were admitted in the Aarani Government Hospital, Thiruvannamalai district after consuming food served at the restaurant.

Food safety officials, Thiruvannamalai district received information that nearly 33 people, including a woman doctor, had been affected by food poisoning in Arani Municipality after consuming food at the eatery. They inspected the restaurant and lifted samples of raw food material for chemical analysis, it said.

According to the chemical analysis report, the water used for cooking by the restaurant and the chilly chicken it served were found to be “unsafe,” as per the proceedings.

“In these circumstances, chairperson, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, New Delhi is directed to ensure the implementation of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and related rules and regulations in hotels and other places of India,” the NHRC said.

The commission has considered all the material paced on record. Police have registered the case and investigation is to continue. The Madras High Court has already directed payment of compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the mother of the deceased child, it added.

M/s Nestle India Limited v. The Food Safety and Standards

In the case of M/s Nestle India Limited vs The Food Safety And Standards, Maggie, a Nestle commodity, was tested by the FSSAI and faced legal implications for impermissible amounts of monosodium glutamate (‘MSG’) and lead in the noodles. FSSAI held Maggi accountable for the following reasons:

  1. Excessive lead content
  2. Misled customer by labeling product with ‘No added MSG’
  3. Was marketing maggie without FSSAI product approval.

The High Court of Mumbai in M / s Nestle India vs. FSSAI, upon analysing all the proposals, delivered the following judgment as a further appeal to Nestle:

  1. The variations of the Maggie Noodles available to the Petitioner would be tested.
  2. Five samples from each batch in their custody are to be submitted to three Food Labs approved and accepted by the NABL, Vimla Lab. (Hyderabad), Punjab Biotechnology Incubator, Agri & Food Testing Laboratory (Mohali) and CEG Test House and Research Center Pvt. Ltd. (Jaipur, Jaipur), if the results show the lead in the permissible amount of 0.25% then only the company will be permitted to start the manufacturing process.
  3. Maggie products will have to go through the approval process under the FSS act and additionally the company was directed to delete ‘No added MSG’ from the label of the product

Disclaimer:

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 article, information and opinions therein are based on my understanding of the law and provisions prevailing as on date. 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. It should not be relied upon as the sole basis for any decision which may affect you or your business. 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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