The 17th meeting of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India was held on 18th May 2015, the minutes of this meeting were adopted in the 18th Authority meeting held on 4th September 2015.
During the 17th Authority meeting CEO pointed out that as of 06 April 2015, the number of licenses granted by the States and UTs stood at 5. 52, 258 licenses, while 23.79.653 FBOs had registered under the FSS Act, 2006. He also said that 19.365 Central Licences had been issued under the Central Licensing Act by the Central Designated Officer under the FSS Act 2006.
The progress about disposal of Product Approvals and the points at which there are issues related to delay in Import Clearance were analysed. The CEO also said that Product Approvals and Import Clearances had both become contentious issues because Section 19 and 22 of the FSS Act that deals with these are highly restrictive.
It was also pointed out that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had selected ‘Food Safety’ as their theme for 2015. On this occasion a special event was hosted by FSSAI in coordination with NCDC and the WHO India office. Special campaigns under ‘Jago Grahak Jago” were undertaken to make people aware about food safety. Also the FSSAI successfully conducted the 9th session of the Codex Committee on Contamination in Food from 16th to 20th March at New Delhi.
Toll free number for filing complaints by consumers
During the meeting there was a suggestion made by one of the members about adding a toll free number on labels which consumers could use to register their complaints about sub-standard and misbranded foods. However, the suggestion needed more consideration as according to the FSS Act only a Food Safety officer could draw legal samples and recommend persecution. At the same time it was brought to the fore that that the procedure to launch prosecutions on defaulting FBOs was highly complicated and cumbersome. The CEO pointed out that a comprehensive review was presently underway for Packaging, Labelling and Claims regulations but printing a toll free number on the label was not feasible as enforcement rested with Sates and UTs. However, there was scope to look into the feasibility and so the FSSAI study the process followed by the Department of Consumer Affairs.
Standards for accredited testing laboratories
Another important issue discussed at the meeting was that there was a need to standardise testing parameters and methodologies for food samples.
It was brought to the notice of all present that
- Though laboratories had the NABL accreditation yet a number of testing labs did not have the required chemical/ reagents for carrying out the analysis of all parameters for different food commodities
- The different laboratories were also using different methodologies for testing various food commodities.
Members were told that the first draft for standardising testing had already been prepared by the sub-committee and that would serve as the basis for testing parameters and methodologies. Once the draft was finalised it would standardise testing parameters and methodologies for food samples. Once the draft was notified all accredited labs would be duty bound to follow the standards or be de-accredited.
FSSAI also made a proposal for the setting up of a national level food testing lab which would be connected to the NABL accredited labs. Once this proposal came into existence, a huge database could be generated on the basis of test reports which would help when standards were developed for food products.
Import regulations in advanced stage
The Import Regulations were at an advanced stage and could be finalised soon as presently the comments were being examined in case there was a need to make any substantial changes in the draft that had already been published. The final notification would soon be published subject to approval of the Authority. Once it was finalised it would be circulated electronically amongst the members of the Authority.
It was observed that there was a need for the timely clearance of import items as even the government is considering it an important aspect as it is a part of its initiative on “Ease of doing Business.” To facilitate import efforts were being made to integrate e-Governance applications of different agencies and departments so that the FBOs would not have to apply through multiple windows.
Additional regulations for Alcohol beverages
The draft regulation for Alcoholic Beverages is to have addition in two of the sub-regulations (6.3 and 6.12)
In the imported alcoholic beverages sub-regulation the following will be added after 6.3
- FSSAI logo and License number
- The name and address of the importer could be allowed to be affixed in the custom bonded warehouse in the form on an additional sticker in a manner that it does not overlap original information on the label in any way.
According to sub regulation 6.12 The Statutory Warning is to be printed in the English language. In case respective states wish the same to be also printed in the local/ regional languages the same could be allowed through an additional sticker without the need to repeat the English version.
Members representing the alcohol beverage industry pointed out that terms like ‘Indian Whisky’ and ‘Flavoured brandy’ could have trade related implications in terms of export. It was decided that in case of any trade related implications the Chairperson would be authorised to decide on further course of action.
Total Diet Study in Indian Population by NIN
Another proposal that was discussed at length was the research to be carried out by the National institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad on “Total Diet Study in Indian Population.’ The research based findings would be an important study on nutrition levels, deficiencies, impact of contaminants including pesticide residues. This issue was important as many countries already had a Total Diet Study of their population but in India there was none.
The Food Authority considered and approved the revision of milk standards with respect to
- Fat and Solids Not Fat (SNF) content of cow’s milk
- Inclusion of standards of Camel Milk in FSSR as annexed in the agenda item
Supplementary Agenda Standards for Dairy Whitener
Standards recommended in respect of the “Total Added Sugar” for Dairy Whitener is to be 24% by mass as against 18% prescribed in the BIS standards. Since it might not be feasible for the industry to meet the standards for 18% and since dairy powder was not a nutrition food so 24% could be allowed. However, it was pointed out that 24% could be hazardous for diabetic patients. Presently the industry is adding sugar at 24% as they do not have the adequate facilities. However, it was agreed that eventually the industry would have to modify its manufacturing process to comply with the prescribed standards because 24% added sugar could be a health hazard. However the Authority have decided to approve the agenda proposal with the modification that the Standards of 24% Added Sugar shall stand revised to 18% at the close of two years from the date of these standards for Dairy Whitener come into force.