New food safety regime from today
Legislation promises to bring in regulation and transparency in 8,00,000-cr food market
India will wake up to a new food safety regime on Friday with the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 taking effect, holding out the promise to bring in regulation and transparency in the Rs 800,000 crore ($182 billion) Indian food market.
Even though the Act was passed five years ago and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) was set up in 2008, it took three years for the umbrella law to amalgamate seven different laws and orders.
A bunch of new food regulators will be in place to monitor quality of fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, poultry, fish, grains, oils, beer and alcohol and processed food items biscuits and juices.
They would also trace the origin of ingredients to ensure quality.
The FSSAI would set standards for various food items, govern the licensing system and punish violators of food laws. The new law provides for food safety commissioners in every district at the level of additional district magistrates. The commissioners would be assisted by food safety officers, earlier known as food inspectors.
Food laboratories will be strengthened to check food quality.
While four central laboratories under FSSAI are being overhauled, the government would provide Rs 5 crore each to 72 state food laboratories for modernisation in the 12th Plan. Expertise would also be drawn from the Central Food and Technological Research Institute, Mysore.
“Effective enforcement to check adulteration and improve food safety structures in states are our key challenges,” an FSSAI official told Deccan Herald.
Unlike the past legacy of more than 1 lakh court cases pending under the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, the new law provides for compounding offences, adjudication and time-bound trial.
The existing cases would be disposed when special courts and appellate tribunals are formed. Much of the pendancy relates to PFA procedure violation by petty offenders and could be disposed off with fines, the official said.
The new law will see the repeal of seven existing laws and executive orders. They are: Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954; Fruit Products Order, 1955; Meat Food Products Order, 1973; Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Orders, 1947, Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1998; Solvent Extracted Oil, Deoiled Meal and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967 and Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992.
“Any other order under Essential Commodities Act, 1955 relating to food will also be repealed,” said V N Gaur, FSSAI chief executive officer.