Safety regulator drafts protocol on food recall

FSSAI makes safety standards for heavy metals in food

Safety regulator drafts protocol on food recall

In the wake of the Maggi controversy, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has come out with a draft protocol on “food recall” and safety standards for heavy metals like lead in a large number of food items—both raw and processed.

The protocol and safe limits for lead, tin, cadmium, mercury, chromium and arsenic in food items are expected to be finalised after incorporating comments from the public, who were given 60 days to send their suggestions to the FSSAI.

The food regulator’s move comes after the raging controversy on instant Maggi noodles, which was found to contain high quantity of lead by food authorities in several states.

The draft standards list out a large number of food items with the maximum permissible level of lead in them. Processed tomato concentrate can have lead up to 1.5 parts per million by weight, which is the highest quantity of the heavy metal allowed in 64 food items for which the standards have been drawn.

Nestle claimed the maximum permissible level of lead in Maggi was 2.5 ppm in its application to the FSSAI, though the certificate of analysis furnished by the company shows the presence of lead was just 0.0153 ppm. Independent tests carried out by authorities however, showed substantially high levels of lead in Maggi.

The FSSAI’s draft food recall procedures seek to formulate guideline on how unsafe food items can be removed quickly from retail shop as well as the distribution chain.

Retailers are not supposed to have a recall plan, whereas manufacturers, wholesale suppliers and importers must have an up-to-date recall plan, which should be shared with the authorities.

Restaurants, caterers and takeaway joints are, however, exempted unless they are running multi-outlet food business chains with integrated manufacturing and distribution networks.

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