FoodSafetyHelpline experts replied to the recent queries:
Q. Honorable Supreme Court of India has held in the case of S.Samuel, M.D. Harrisons Malayalam v. Union of India – Appeal ( civil ) No.12746 -12747 of 1996 decided on 06.11.2003 – that TEA is not food. The relevant abstract of this judgement is reproduced hereunder for your ready reference.
As an upshot of the above discussion, also keeping in view the judicial exposition of the terms ‘foodstuffs’ and ‘tea’, we are definitely of the opinion that tea is not foodstuff. Even in a wider sense as dealt with in Virkumar Gulabchand Shah’s case (supra) “foodstuff” will not include tea as tea either in the form of the leaves or in the form of beverage does not go into the preparation of food proper to make it more palatable and digestible. Tea leaves are not eaten. Tea is a beverage produced by steeping tea leaves or buds of the tea plants in boiled water. Such ‘tea’ is consumed hot or cold for its flavour, taste and its quality as a stimulant.
The stimulating effect is cause by the presence of caffeine therein. ‘Tea’ neither nourishes the body nor sustains or promotes its growth. It does not have a nutritional value. It does not help formation of enzymes nor does it enable anabolism. Tea or its beverage does not go into the preparation of any foodstuff. In common parlance, any one who has taken tea would not say that he has taken or eaten food. Thus, ‘tea’ is not ‘food’. It is not understood as ‘food’ or ‘foodstuff’ either in common parlance or by the opinion of Lexicographers.
Food license under FSS Act is required for food product dealers. As per the above judgement of Honorable Supreme Court, TEA is not food. If tea is not food, then why food license is required under FSS Act for tea traders?
A. Tea is very well a food product and has been categorized as Beverage as defined under the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006. Food Safety Regulations have defined the standards for Tea & Tea Products including testing parameters. Food Business operators dealing with Tea & Tea Products have to obtain a license/registration under the food Safety & Standards Act.
Q. We manufacture products exclusively for export which are exported to other countries. These are both traditional food items like rice cereals etc and proprietary food items.
I seek clarification on:
1. Do I need to take product approval for these export items as well.
2. Whether FSSAI license no. is also required on label of these export items or not.
A. 100% Export oriented food units shall have to acquire a Central License from FSSAI under Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006. Food Product Approval system is applicable for the food items which are manufactured/processed or imported into India for further sale within the national territory regions and for which the standards have not been defined under FSS Act, Rules & Regulations.
The Food Labelling will be as per the requirements of the buyer & his country. So, the information on the label and how it should be displayed will have to be as per the guidelines of the importing country.
Q. What is the rule about shift code in batch code.
1. Can we write G (General shift) for production started from 7AM to 5 PM.
2. Can we write A (Morning shift) for production after 2PM upto 5PM
A. The Batch No. & Code number are used for the identification purposes. How should these be displayed on the label will depend on your own choice.
Q. What is the Penalty in case of conducting food business without a license?
A. The manufacture, store, sale, distribution & import of any article of food without a license would be liable for a fine which may extend to Rs. 5 Lacs and an imprisonment which may extend to Six months.
A food business without a Registration would be liable for a fine which may extend to Rs. 2 Lacs.
Q. Is is essential for a small Coffee Roasting company to have a staff member who has a B.Sc degree? Will an engineering degree do?
A. As per one of the conditions of the license, such staff member shall possess at least a degree in Science with Chemistry/Bio Chemistry/Food and Nutrition/Microbiology or a degree or diploma in Food Technology/Dairy Technology/Dairy Microbiology/Dairy Chemistry/ Dairy Engineering/ Oil Technology or any degree or diploma in any other discipline related to the specific requirements of the business from a recognized university or institute or equivalent.