The FSSAI has issued directions dated 12 June, 2020 regarding the extension of date for mandatory food safety audit of Food Businesses under the Food Safety and Standards (Food Safety Auditing) Regulations 2018.
Through an order dated 13 August 2019 the FSSAI had mandated food safety audit of Food Businesses holding Central License and who fall under high risk categories of food businesses under the Food Safety and Standards (food Safety Auditing) Regulations, 2018. Under these regulations FBOs that fall in the following six categories of food businesses as per FLRS were to carry out mandatory food safety auditing of their premises.
- Dairy products and analogues, excluding products of food category 2.0
- Meat and meat products including poultry
- Fish and fish products, including molluscs, crustaceans and echinoderms
- Egg and egg products
- Foodstuff intended for particular nutritional uses (food for infant nutrients, etc.)
- Prepared foods (catering etc.)
The FSSAI has now issued a notification extending the date for mandatory food safety auditing to 30 September, 2020. The FSSAI has extended the date for mandatory food safety audits of food businesses because of the current situation caused by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
About Food Safety Audits
Food safety audits are widely used in the food industry in most countries of the world and with the Food Safety Audit Regulation in place, mandatory food safety audits will also become a part of the food industry in India. FSSAI recommends a mandatory audit for the complete chain of manufacturing, transport, storage etc. so as to follow good hygienic practices, however, initially food safety audit will be mandatory only for premises. Food safety audits will play a role in assessing the standards of the premises and the products.
Most food businesses carry out their internal audits from time to time to assess that they are in compliance with regulatory standards. Some food manufacturers even carry out audits of their vendors and suppliers to ensure raw materials are safe and free from contamination or adulteration. However, FSSAI has now mandated third party audits where FSSAI approved auditors will carry out the audits of the food premises.
As food products criss-cross into global markets, food safety concerns also reach global dimensions so food processors and regulatory agencies see auditing as a tool to effectively manage food safety, compliance of standards and improvement where there are food safety gaps. The auditors themselves need to be well aware of regulatory requirements and standards so they can conduct the audit in a systemic way.