Consumer Affairs Ministry has expressed the view that consumers are worried about the safety standards of packaged food products. Consumers’ fears could be grounded on the fact that recently a number of packaged foods have been banned or withdrawn from the market. Nestle instant Maggi noodles, Knorr Chinese noodles and Top Ramen are some of the popular brands that are not presently in the market either for non-compliance of FSSAI regulation or for lack of product approval. The Consumer Affairs Ministry has, however, decided to file a complaint with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) on the Maggi issue.
Senior FSSAI officials and the Health Ministry clarified their stand on the Maggi issue before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food and Consumer Affairs. The representation told the Members about how toxic content like lead and other heavy metals, additives and ingredients in packaged foods are regulated. FSSAI also gave a report on the actions it has taken in the last one month against companies that were found to be selling substandard food products.
Among all the bad news for the food processing industry there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The FSSAI has finalised 12,000 standards for food additives and ingredients that are in line with the standards of the United Nations established Codex Alimentarius Commission. To a large extent this will help food manufacturers as they will no longer have to go through the lengthy product approval process if they comply with these standards for food additives and ingredients.
The existing food safety & standards regulations have approx. 380 articles of foods for which the standards have been specified. The Law Ministry is presently examining the new standards finalized by FSSAI and it will not be long before that the notifications are issued in this regard by FSSAI.
FSSAI has also fixed the maximum limit for use of food additives in various food groups so that additives do not exceed the acceptable daily intake. Similarly, it has set norms for use of ingredients that are used to prepare processed food products. Besides this the FSSAI is in the process of reviewing the existing standards for caffeine content, metal and toxic contaminants and other residues in food products.
The Apex food regulator hopes that these measures will improve the quality of foods. Along with this, once the process of setting standards for imported food is also ready, then the Indian consumers can hope to see better and safer products in the markets.