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

The food industry has evolved greatly over time. It has had to constantly change to keep up with the demands and needs of consumers. The aim of the food law is to protect public health and consumers’ interest in relation to food. The regulation applies to all stages of production, processing and distribution of food. Food law should aim at the protection of human life and health and (other) consumers’ interests. Food businesses are responsible to ensure compliance at levels. Food law is the collection of laws and regulations that govern food production, distribution and consumption.

In India, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) was formulated the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (“the Act”) became operational on August 5, 2011. The Act has provided for special courts and food safety appellate tribunals to hear and expedite the procedures in food related cases. The act also talks about regular food audits that will keep the licensed food business operators in check. The Act has introduced the food recall procedure, a provision that aims at effective crisis management.

  • 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 – August, 2022:
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Particulars

Link (s)

1

Circular No:08/2022-23, Export of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) products to China -reg

Click Here

2

Circular No.9/2022-23, Onliine issuance of license as cardamom dealer as per Cardamom (Licensing & Marketing) Rules, 1987-Onboarding into National Single Window System (NSWS) – reg

Click Here

3

Online Submission of Pending Quarterly Export Returns –reg

Click Here

4

Submission of Pending Monthly returns by the Dealers of Cardamom –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 August, 2022

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Particulars

Relevant Link (s)

1

Press Release regarding FSSAI tights vigil against adulteration in edible oils

trans-fatty acids and sale of Multi Source Edible Oils without proper labelling [Updated on:03-08-2022]

Click Here

2

Requirement of Health Certificate accompanied with the import of food consignments [Updated on:03-08-2022]

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3

Examination and Scrutiny of license modification applications in FoSCoS for products covered under FSS (Nutraceutical) Regulations, 2022 [Updated on:08-08-2022]

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4

FSSAI tights vigil against adulteration in edible oils trans-fatty acids and sale of Multi Source Edible Oils without proper labelling [Updated on:17- 08-2022]

 

Click Here

5

Clarification dated 16th August 2022 related to sample and analysis of imported food articles with microbial testing requirements [Updated on:18- 08-2022]

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6

Advisory dated 18th August 2022 related to Clarification regarding FSSAIs

requirement of AGMARK certification in case of Imported food products [Updated on:18-08-2022]

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7

Notification dated 22nd August 2022 of important guidelines in reference to the old and new FoSTaC portal [Updated on:22-08-2022]

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8

Clarification order dated 24th August 2022 regarding payment of application fee for endorsement of vegan logo [Updated on:24-08-2022]

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9

Extension of Enrolment of Non Food Production (NFP) Units dated 23rd August 2022 for Collection of Used Cooking Oil from Food Business Operators [Updated on:24-08-2022]

 

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10

Office Order dated 25th August 2022 regarding delegation of administrative powers [Updated on:25-08-2022]

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  • Notifications for August, 2022 for Public Comments

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Particulars

Link (s)

 

1

Notice for comment for the use of Aadhaar authentication for licensing/ registration of Food Business Operators under the Aadhaar authentication for Good Governance (Social, Welfare, Innovation, Knowledge) Rules, 2020 [Uploaded on : 21-07-2022]

 

Click Here

 

2

Notice 08th July 2022 for seeking public comments on recent recommended method which are given below by 37th meeting of Scientific Panel on Methods of Sampling & Analysis  [Uploaded on : 08-07-2022]

 

Click Here

  • Key Notification in Brief:

1. FSSAI on requirement  of  AGMARK  certification for imported food products

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has issued an advisory with approval of competent authorities regarding the requirement of AGMARK certification in case of imported food products.

The apex body   of food safety has drawn reference to the advisory issued vide letter no 1– 1800/ FSSAI /Imports 2019 dated 7th July 2020 regarding requirement of AGMARK certification prior to import of  blended edible vegetable oil (BEVO).

In case of imported food products FSSAI has received several representations from various stakeholders asking for clarity in terms of applicability of requirement of AGMARK certifications.

 2. FSSAI tights vigil against adulteration in edible oils trans-fatty acids and sale of Multi Source Edible Oils without proper labelling

State/UT Food Safety Departments have started intensive surveillance drives across the country in a nation-wide campaign that began on 01.08.2022 to check adulteration in edible oils (single oil as a constituent), trans-fatty acids and sale of Multi Source Edible Oils without proper labelling. The campaign has been designed and intended by the food regulator to come down heavily upon the delinquent FBOs who may be found selling adulterated edible oils or loose edible oils.

During the first three days of the campaign, 24 States/UTs have drawn 628 surveillance samples of packaged oils including multi source edible oils as well as loose edible oils and vanaspati. The samples have been sent to NABL accredited/Notified Food laboratory for swift analysis to ensure that any suspected adulteration case faces immediate drawing of regulatory samples to take legal action against such FBOs. To read more: Click Here

  • Compliance Mechanism under FSSAI

FSSAI Return Filings:

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Type of Return

Particular

Due Date

1

FSSAI Form D2

To be filed by Manufacturer of milk/milk

30.03.2022 /

 

(half-yearly return)

products

30.09.2022

  • 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.

According to the FSSAI, the decision to extend the timeline was taken after it has received representation from stakeholders seeking reconsideration of the specified values in respect of quality parameters including ‘Alcoholic acidity in the standards of bajra flour, jowar flour, multigrain flour and mixed millet flour and total dietary fibre’ and ‘Moisture content’ in the standards of mixed millet flour.

Further, FSSAI has decided to revise the maximum limit of moisture content in the mixed millet flour from 11% to 13% and operationalise the same with immediate effect.

The food authority has notified the FSS-Food Products Standards and Food Additives (First Amendment) Regulations, 2021, in March 2021 prescribing the standards for bajra flour, jowar flour. Also the 5th amendment regulation notified in November 2021, prescribed the standards for mixed millet flour and multigrain flour. The food businesses were asked to comply with the provisions by January 1, 2022, and June 1, 2022, respectively. To read more: Click Here

  • CORPORATE NEWS

1. Karnataka: FSSAI Sought Explanation from Dominos for ‘Unhygienic Practices’ Followed At A Bengaluru Outlet

Days after Dominos India ensured appropriate measures will be rolled out against alleged unhygienic food handling practices at one of its Bengaluru outlets, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Wednesday issued a spot memo and further sought an explanation from the food business operators regarding “unhygienic food handling practices of outlet reported in the complaint”.

In a tweet, News Agency ANI said, “Improvement notice also issued based on inspection observations to be complied with within 15 days. Further necessary action to be taken by the Designated Officer (State Licensing), Bangalore Urban District, as per the provisions under the FSS Act upon receipt of explanation.”

Responding to the viral images showing cleaning mops hanging above trays of pizza dough, Dominos India tweeted, “We adhere to stringent world-class protocols for ensuring the highest standards of hygiene and food safety. We have zero tolerance for violations of these operating standards. The incident brought to our notice will be thoroughly investigated and basis the findings. Read more at: Click Here

2. Nutra call for informative and transparent labels

Nutraceuticals are functional foods and high valued products of the health care sector. In addition to their nutritional value as food, they have medicinal properties as well. The nutraceutical market value as per Grand View Research for 2021 was at US$454 billion and proposed to grow at 9% CAGR in a decade.

A variety of products like cereals, bakery dairy products and snacks, energy/ sportdrinks, fortified juices, vitamins supplements, mineral supplements, herbals, enzyme products, fatty acids and amino acids, protein enrichments, are all nutraceuticals. All of them are accessible from various outlets like specialty stores, department stores, super markets, door to door sales and online modes of purchase.

Nutraceuticals are being consumed based on whims and fancies of individuals with very little scientific supervision or monitoring under medical guidance. Health emergencies have been reported for weight loss products, sexual enhancement and body building products, energy drinks, supplemental amino acids.

Call for clean labels

The concept of Clean label (which was initiated for food and consumer products) is towards ensuring consumer safety by provision of information which tells about ingredients that may be harmful or adversely affect the health, and if the said product has such ingredients.

Presence of preservatives/ stabilisers/ colours, which may have chemicals (pesticide contaminants, heavy metals, plasticisers, carcinogens, genotoxic materials) / microbial contaminants, is not desirable in products. If the product is ‘clean’ so will be the label. Thus by looking at a label the consumer may choose to purchase or not.

Demand for Clean Labels in Nutraceuticals:

Nutraceuticals are quite diverse in nature with an even more diverse pool of ingredients being used for manufacturing. Processing too is quite different product wise. In a measure to promote product quality and consumer awareness USFDA has updated the label format for nutritional information on food products.

The updated label highlights calories and serving size in larger font. Percentage daily values of information have to be provided for certain ingredients. In the light of such an upgradation in foods, nutraceuticals which are functional foods definitely call for labels which are informative and transparent. One example of clean label requirement is in Cannabidiol (CBD) products. CBD is a very popular ingredient in nutraceuticals products for body builders, athletes and vegetarian consumers. The critical feature is the absence of THC – tetrahydrocannabinol which is addictive and a neuroactive chemical.

Clean labels will facilitate better consumer trust and help to increase the market value for the nutraceutical in terms of consumer safety. Measures for clean labelling have to be employed by nutraceutical manufacturers. For example, instead of high GI sugars or artificial sweeteners the use of sweeteners like monk fruit or stevia may be adopted. Vegetarian capsules (Pullulan/, HPMC) have come into market as against gelatin capsule shells.

Demand for Clean labels in nutraceuticals is a greater necessity owing to the health claim/ nutrition claim/structure or function claims they propose. This strategy of addressing the formulation/processing/packaging may thus be extended to larger number of nutraceuticals product categories to facilitate clean labelling. (Read More at: Click Here)

3. Agmark requirement for imported oil kept in abeyance; decision draws flak

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued an advisory saying that the requirement of Agmark certification on imported food consignment, particularly, imported blended edible vegetable oil (BEVO), has been kept in ‘abeyance’.

The FSSAI advisory reads, “It was agreed to keep the requirement of Agmark certification for imported food consignment in abeyance till further orders.”

According to the FSSAI, representation has been received from various stakeholders seeking clarification with respect to the applicability of requirement of Agmark certification in case of imported food products and the matter was taken up with the Directorate of Marketing and Inspections.

According to the AIEOTC, FSSAI in its previous advisory, expressed concern about many food businesses getting FSSAI licence without Agmark certification and selling BEVO. FSSAI had in 2020 asked the state food safety department to take necessary action against the violators.

However, FSSAI in its fresh advisory has reverted its previous decision. AIEOTC has called for a larger consultation on the subject matter. (Read More at: Click Here)

4. Mandatory certification puts packaged water units in a fix

BIS certification mandatory for getting licence from FSSAI for water packaging units

Packaged drinking water units will need to continue getting product certification from 2 regulatory authorities till an issue on the mandatory certification by a single authority is sorted out. The ongoing issue of regulation by a single authority has raised concerns about quality of drinking water manufactured and may weaken monitoring mechanisms.

According to sources in the Bureau of Indian Standards, Southern Regional Office, the authorities of Food Safety and Standards of India (FSSAI) recently wrote to the BIS seeking to bring the packaged drinking water units under its ambit. This would mean changes in regulation from mandatory licences to voluntary BIS certification.

There are about 1,620 units in the State and of this, nearly 445 were in and around Chennai. Nearly three crore litres of water is being sold in Chennai alone daily.

Members said that periodical tests were conducted as per the requirements of the BIS and the FSSAI. However, FSSAI authorities in Chennai said that the BIS mandatory certification was still required for FSSAI licence. (Read More at: Click Here)

5. To avoid delays, FSSAI asks not to re-examine already licensed products

To avoid any ‘inordinate’ delays in the processing of modification applications, the FSSAI has asked Central Licensing Authorities to be careful while examining the nutraceutical products of such food businesses, who have applied for migration from state to Central licences.

The FSSAI has issued an advisory to the Central Licensing Authorities in this regard stating that re-examination of all the licensed products may not be appropriate at the stage of migration.

“Since FBOs are migrating from state licence to Central licence for nutraceutical products and such products have already been examined by the state licensing authorities before grant of licence, re-examination of all the licensed products may not be appropriate at the stage of migration from state to Central category,” reads the FSSAI advisory.

The advisory added that the Central Licensing Authorities were advised to scrutinise only those products which have been applied for under the modification application in hand and desist from re-examining the already licensed products, unless there is a food safety issue or specific complaint reported against a product or the food business.

According to FSSAI this was leading to ‘inordinate’ delays in processing of applications for modification and food businesses were subjected to scrutiny for their products which they already have been granted valid licence.

It is pertinent to mention that the food authority has allowed the food businesses to migrate from state to Central licence or vice versa, without changing the FSSAI licence number. (Read More at: Click Here)

FSSAI CASE LAWS               

SC upholds Bombay HC verdict on FSSAI product approval advisory

The court said that there was no ground for interfering with the high court’s verdict and dismissed FSSAI’s appeal.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a Bombay high court decision last year quashing an 11 May 2013 advisory issued by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on the procedure of product approvals.

An apex court bench comprising justices J.S. Khehar and N.V. Ramana said that there was no ground for interfering with the Bombay high court’s verdict and dismissed FSSAI’s appeal.

The Bombay high court on 1 August 2014 ruled that the FSSAI’s May 2013 advisory on product approvals “did not have force of law” and was beyond its powers as provided by the Food Safety Standards Act, 2006. This decision was based on the decisions of two judges dated 28 January 2014 and 30 June 2014 of the high court.

The apex court’s scrutiny on the powers of FSSAI come on the heels of a dispute the regulator had with Nestlé India Ltd whose Maggi noodles it banned in June after excess lead and monosodium glutamate were found in some samples of the popular snack.

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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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