Sometime back in October 2012, the FSSAI had permitted that certain categories of Food Business Operators can be removed from the purview of pre-inspection of premises before grant of license under the FSS Act 2006. Then again in May 2013, it was decided at a meeting chaired by the Chairperson FSSAI, that premises of FBOs must be inspected within a period of six months after the License has been issued.
FSSAI has now noted in an Office Memorandum dated 12th February, 2015 that despite all earlier directions issued already, the applications for grant of license are still kept pending mainly because physical inspections of the premises have not been carried out. In the same O.M FSSAI also states that “per sub-regulation 2.1.4 of FSS (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations-2011, physical inspection of the FBO’s premises is optional and not a mandatory requirement for grant of license.” However, concerned authorities undertake to carry out inspections as part of the enforcement functions as a pre-requisite for grant of license.
The good news for FBOs is that the FSSAI through the 22 February, 2015 O.M have decided, after much consideration, that no Licensing Authority shall withhold the processing of any application for grant of license because of lack of pre-inspection of the FBO’s premises under any category. This has been decided on the fact that under the provisions of the FSS Act, Rules and Regulations an inspection for compliance of the premises can be carried out any time as part of the enforcement policy even after grant of license.
Accordingly the E-form for grant of license is being suitably modified and would now require a
- Photograph of the FBO’s premises
- Proof of address of such premises
- However, these would be applicable only after the software has been suitably modified to include these.
- This provision is not applicable to those who have already applied for license via the online form and whose applications have been received by the Licensing Authority
Another positive step taken by FSSAI is that it has passed directions that unless there is definite information via their surveillance system that an illegal practice is taking place that would compromise the safety of consumers or which makes food unsafe then an inspection would only be carried out after prior notice has been provided to the FBO. Only if illegal practices like adulteration are going on then the food inspectors can carry out inspection without notice.
If during physical inspection it is found that FBOs are not in compliance with the legal requirements that pertain to manufacturing, sale, distribution, etc. of unsafe food then legal action would be taken. For all other non-compliance requirements FBOs would be issued an Improvement Notice. Any non compliance of issued Improvement Notice within the scheduled time would be dealt with as under Section 32 of the FSS Act, 2006.
Further FSSAI has directed that all physical inspections should be carried out with the aim of bringing about improvement rather than in the form of ‘Raids’ unless and until the concerned officer has a definite lead that the adulteration in the food items would make it unsafe for human consumption especially in large scale items e.g. Milk and Milk products, packaged drinking water and edible oils.