On regulatory matters of the food products such as Product Approval (PA), the apex body on food ‘FSSAI’ will try avoiding issuing the advisories and would handle these matters with Regulations. This move has come in the wake of the orders given by the Mumbai High Court to FSSAI on product Approval process.
To meet this end, FSSAI has decided to set up a committee that would draft out regulations for future food product approval. The committee will be headed by a scientist and in order to have equal and inclusive representation, it would constitute two members each from the industry, consumers, state governments and scientists, one of whom would be from the medical field and the other with a food technology background.
One of the key areas the committee would be working on is to make regulations flexible so new ideas can be accommodated. The standards list would also be expanded and would be harmonized with that of the Codex Alimentarius Commission standards. The list of standardized products is also expected to be increased to 11000 products from the existing list of Approx. 370 plus standardized products.
CEO of FSSAI, D K Samantaray has stated that setting standards is not easy as foods products have different testing parameters and to bring a non-standardised product into the food chain is difficult and long. Food products have additives, flavours and colours which have to be within the safe limit as salt and sugar can also pose health issues.
Section 22 of FSS Act states – No person shall manufacture, distribute, sell or import any novel food, genetically modified articles of food, irradiated food, organic foods, foods for special dietary uses, Neutraceuticals, health supplements, proprietary foods and such other articles of food without taking product approval from the central government.
As per FSS Act, Rules & Regulations, if the food product is manufactured by using the ingredients and additives for which there are no guidelines issued under FSS Act/Rules & Regulations, then such food products must be verified and approved by FSSAI, only then shall be allowed to be put in the market for consumption.
FSSAI’s advisory of May 11, 2013 had defined categories that required food product approval. As per the advisory food products that are listed in category 1(a) would be given approval immediately as they are in compliance with Codex Alimentarius Commission, the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), the European Union (EU), Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and so those seeking approval for these ‘1a’ products must apply with documentation to FSSAI.
Category 1(b) foods are not compliant with the Codex Alimentarius or with USFDA but these products have documentary evidence of being safe and so they have been standardised for the Indian consumer. In case any new manufacturer wishes to manufacture any product already being manufactured under category 1(a) and 1(b) then he has to file an application with FSSAI to obtain clearance to manufacture the same.
However, foods listed in 1(c) are those that FSSAI has not cleared as being safe and the product approval shall be granted or denied on the basis of risk assessment.