2795 penalties with 1402 convictions but FDA level issues hamper testing

Saturday, 30 July, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Pushkar Oak and Ashwani Maindola
The recent update by FSSAI on its website, revealing statistics on lab testing of food samples carried out across the country by state authorities from the period 2012-13 to 2014-15, shows that consistent efforts have been made to collect samples,get them tested and take action against erring food business operators (FBOs). However, it seems to be silent on the manpower crunch that has been hampering collecting and testing of samples in proportion to the number of FBOs ever since the implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011.

The key issue related to manpower crunch that the enforcement authorities face pertains to paucity of FSOs (food safety officers) as those in service are lesser than the numbers sanctioned, hence, additional charges have been given to them. Mobility in the interiors of a state and assistance in collection of samples are the other major issues that are being faced.

Further, though the model says every development block in the country should have one FSO, currently most states have FSOs till tehsil level (a tehsil consists of many blocks covering several villages).

Collection is tough
For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, the largest of Indian states with close to 20 crore population, currently 620 FSOs are deployed against the sanctioned 660, serving different zones divided in municipalities and tehsils.

A senior official with UPFDA explains, “The toughest task is sample collection. Single person finds it difficult to collect multiple samples. There is also unavailability of vehicle. And therefore the process becomes time-consuming.”

He however points out that to work in such a situation, the state department has made a risk assessment plan based on the least vulnerable commodities. It depends on season, product demand and consumption pattern. Further certain commodities like milk are always on radar and part of sample collection process sometimes focusses only on milk and its products.

Similar opinion was expressed by an official from Food and Drugs Control Administration (FDCA), Gujarat. He stated, “There are 280 food safety officers with FDCA while there are 53 food safety officers with municipality and municipal corporations. There is a requirement of more FSOs in the regulation infrastructure. But Gujarat state has been involved in other activities like mobile awareness vans equipped with testing facility and such mobile vans are helpful in regulating areas where there are less number of FSOs. If we look at the parameters of per region FSOs it is a1so for rural area with population of 1 lakh and 1 FSO for urban area with population of 50,000. Other allied infrastructure includes means of transport of FSOs which are not upto the mark. There is a need to improve these facilities for FSOs.”

3-tier system of control
Gujarat has a typical problem that there is a 3-tier system of control units over FSOs. “Rather it should be one single state authority controlling all the FSOs. This makes it difficult to keep areas under regulation,” he added.

Similarly in Maharashtra, there are 265 FSOs with the state, of which 87 posts are vacant while 178 are endowed upon responsibility. To regulate with vacant posts is a difficult task says a senior official with Maha FDA. “Sampling is the challenge today but shortage of staff is making it difficult now. In this regard, out of 87 vacant posts we are about to fill 48 posts soon to bring down additional pressure on the FSOs,” he stated.

Steps to utilise resources
However, the situation is improving with FSSAI taking steps to appropriately utilise the available resources. Partnerships with private entities, mobile apps and surveillance-based risk assessment have been introduced.

“To get the work done, FSOs are looking after additional regions for samples. Also recently developed mobile app is a helping hand to regulate the enforcement activities based upon consumer reviews and complaints,” said another officer from FDA Maharashtra.

In Kerala, four regional food safety labs in the state are being upgraded for the NABL accreditation process and its 95 per cent of the work is over. A sum of Rs 6.15 crore has been allocated for strengthening these laboratories.

Another senior food safety department official in UPFDA states that mobile app would certainly be helpful for their enforcement activities. He however added that it would take some time to create necessary infrastructure and database for this system.

Meanwhile, according to lab test reports released by FSSAI for the year 2015-16, Rs 10,93,87,214 were collected from 2,795 penalties with 1,402 convictions in the country. More than 83,265 samples were collected out of which around 74,000 samples were analysed and 14,599 samples were found misbranded or adulterated.

In Andhra Pradesh, 290 samples were found not upto the mark, in Gujarat 1,243 samples were at fault, in Himachal more than 400 samples failed. In Madhya Pradesh 1,412 out of 9131, in Maharashtra 1,162 out of 6985, in Punjab 1458 out of 7860, in Tamil Nadu 1,047 out of 2873, and in Uttar Pradesh 4,119 out of 9605 samples failed lab testing.

Research in food safety, hygiene and nutrition in focus at FSSAI workshop

Saturday, 30 July, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
A workshop on “Scientific Cooperation Framework for Food Safety” was held by FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) here recently.

The meeting was attended by more than 120 participants representing concerned key officials from the ministries, public and private institutions engaged in research and development in areas of food safety, hygiene and nutrition and research funding agencies.

The objective of the workshop was to sift through those proposals and screen proposals having potential of falling within the objectives and responsibilities of FSSAI for funding purpose and identify gaps where new studies and research are required.

It aimed at facilitating a scientific cooperation framework by coordination of research activities, exchange of information and expertise, development and implementation of joint projects and best practices in the fields of food science, technology and nutrition. The focus of the day was on networking and discussion, as means to greater understanding between the different stakeholders, increased collaboration and to form concrete recommendations for improving current practices.

Session 1: Inaugural Session
Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, apprised the participants with the mandate of FSSAI pertaining to R&D in food sector. He informed that earlier in response to an expression of interest, FSSAI had received around 90 research proposals from various scientific institutions for taking up R&D studies in the areas of food safety and nutrition.

Out of the proposals received, 44 projects were identified in the first level of in-house screening. These proposals would be discussed later in the workshop in five parallel technical sessions, with project investigators in each group making a presentation on their proposals. He also introduced the concept of FSKAN (Food Safety Knowledge Assimilation Network) among the participants and emphasised on the significance of this network which will facilitate a platform for virtual network of people and resources in academic / scientific institutions with an aim to provide effective and efficient access to knowledge.

Thereafter, Anuradha Prasad, joint secretary, ministry of food processing  industries (MoFPI), enlightened the participants about the research funding schemes  under MoFPI in the food sector.

Dr N K Ganguly, adviser to the department of health research, National Institute of Immunology, and chairman, scientific committee, FSSAI, emphasised that the definition of food has been changed over time and concepts like genetically-modified foods (foods containing GMOs), food fortification, probiotics, oral nutrient supplements have been introduced which should be kept in mind while framing such strategies.

K B Agarwal, additional secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, praised FSSAI for its effort of inviting the research community to engage with the body.

Ashish Bahuguna, chairman, FSSAI, delivered the presidential address at the event.

He spoke about the need to streamline research in food safety, identify gaps in research and also ensure that there is proper allocation of funding for research in the sector.

Session 2: Strategic Partnership
Dr J Lewis, consultant, FSSAI, opened the session with a brief presentation on FSKAN. He informed that FSKAN is an outreach programme launched by FSSAI, to facilitate scientific cooperation framework for coordinating joint projects and exchange of information and to establish a system of network of organisations. The primary objective of FSKAN will be coordinating various science-based activities, exchange of information, development/ implementation of joint projects, exchange of expertise and best practices and in the fields within food authority responsibility.

Dr Lewis opined that FSS Act, 2006, which was a science-based Act mandated the authority to establish scientific cooperation with organisations for joint projects or exchange of expertise and best practices in the fields of Authority’s responsibilities – safety and health of consumers.

He felt that food safety was the outcome of the risk assessment process whereby an assurance that the food was acceptable for human consumption according to its intended use. Since knowledge lies in a vast domain of scientific research and scholarship in many forms and formats, assimilation is the process of extracting the precise information required for conducting the risk assessment. Hence the acronym FSKAN and its logo are an expression of its objective and purpose.

Dr Jagdish Arora, director, Information and Library Network Centre (INFLIBNET), presented in brief the objectives and various services under INFLIBNET to promote and establish communication facilities to improve capability in information transfer and access that provide support for building a network of scientific/ research institutes/ universities and so on. He highlighted the envisaged strategic partnership of INFLIBNET with FSSAI for e-content development, training and awareness programmes and skill development.

Representatives from research institutes like Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Science and Technology (DST), MoFPI and International Life Science Institute (ILSI) shared their views on the launch of FSKAN and prospective on how these institutes/ organisations can work in collaboration for creation of a scientific network.

Invitees from industry R&D like Chiffs, Hindustan Lever Ltd, Coca-Cola, Britannia, Nestle India, Mondelez, Heinz, and GSK shared the areas of their involvement in R&D in various food categories in India and expressed their desire to associate with FSSAI for FSKAN. Representative from United States Pharmacopeia (USP) delivered a presentation and apprised the invitees about the activities of their organisation and in particular USP’s Food Fraud Database, Food Fraud Mitigation Guidance, and related training and advising services which serve as a critical resource for industry, regulators, and other stakeholders to inform risk-based decisions on food fraud vulnerability and mitigation.

Session 3: Technical Parallel Sessions
After the tea-break, the invitees were divided into six groups to deliberate on specific categories of research proposals. Each group was chaired by an expert and senior FSSAI  official(s) to facilitate the discussions.

The session primarily focussed on sharing participants’ vision on science-based collaborations within its objectives. Project Investigators (PIs) gave a brief presentation within their group to highlight the outcome/benefits of their project for FSSAI with respect to specific food safety issue, risk related concern, nutrition or any other facet and how the remedy/reduction/evaluation addressed by the project is beneficial to FSSAI; whether the solution proposed is not available in the scientific literature – or if available it is not applicable to Indian conditions, practices or dietary habits; whether with a sharper focus/finetuning the same output can be achieved in shorter time lesser funding and whether new instrumentation/equipment requested, if any, is currently unavailable at the institution/facility to commence the research.

Participants also deliberated on the core/thrust areas within the ambit of their group which needs immediate attention or requires study or research and also on how the existing proposals can be finetuned to achieve the same.

Session 4: Recommendations of Group Chairman
Chairman of each session presented the recommendations of their group to the house, announcing the shortlisted projects and the need for modifications/finetuning, if any, and to ‘re-submit’ the revised proposals to FSSAI.

While these five groups were emphasising on research proposals in specific categories, the sixth group, being chaired by Madhavi Das, CMSO, FSSAI was focussed on developing a strategy and framework for executing the functions under FSKAN.

Session 5: Constitution of Affinity Groups
During the session, Dr Lewis apprised the participants with the concept of constitution of affinity groups. It was informed that in order to forge together collective information where FSSAI can draw best practices and updated knowledge on subject, ‘affinity groups’ will be constituted who will work in collaboration with FSSAI on a continuing basis in future for identifying gaps where new research or studies are required. The group will be allowed to select a co-coordinator among themselves for each group who will be called as “Expertise Domain” for FSSAI.

Apart from these breakout sessions, a side-event was also organised. Members of scientific committee and the experts were invited to deliver a 5-minute talk on a food safety related topic relevant to the current scenario for video recording. FSSAI recorded 14 such videos during the workshop which will be used for training, education,  awareness programmes and so on.

Conclusions, Recommendations
Based on the recommendations that emerged during the parallel technical sessions, research proposals falling within the mandate of FSSAI were shortlisted and the PIs were suggested to modify their proposals and ‘re-submit’ the revised proposals within 15 days.

FSSAI amends Food Products Standards relating to Fatty Acids & Dietary Fibre & Labelling for Plant Sterol & Isomaltulose

FSSAI amends Food Products Standards relating to Fatty Acids & Dietary Fibre & Labelling for Plant Sterol & Isomaltulose


The FSSAI has issued gazette notifications on 13 July, 2016 in which it has made the following regulations further to amend the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011. These regulations will be called the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Fourth Amendment Regulations, 2016. These relate to the use of ARA & DHA, Isomaltulose, and High Fibre Dextrin in various food products. The FSSAI has also amended Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011. These regulations may be called the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and labelling) Third Amendment Regulations, 2016 on the use of Plant Sterol (Phytosterols), Isomaltulose, High Fibre Dextrin. These amendments shall come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.

In Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 in the regulation dealing with FOODS FOR INFANT NUTRITION (2.9.1)

  • In Infant formula and Follow-Up Formula-Complementary Food the FSSAI has permitted algal and fungal oil as sources of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Arachidonic Acid (ARA) from Crypthecodinium cohnii, Mortierella alpina, Schizochytrium sp. and Ulkenia sp. at the level of maximum 0.5 per cent.
  • DHA of total fatty acids and ratio of ARA: DHA must be 1:1 minimum.
  • If a claim related to the addition of DHA is made then the DHA content shall not be less than 0.2 per cent of total fatty acids. 

Note: DHA and ARA are omega-3 and omega -6 fatty acids that are normally found in mother’s milk. Algae and fungus oils are vegetarian sources of DHA and ARA. DHA and ARA are being permitted to be added to infant formulas as they are required for the development of the eyes and nervous system of infants in the first two years of life.

In regulation SWEETS & CONFECTIONERY (2.7) in the category dealing with the following FSSAI has permitted Isomaltulose at 50 per cent. (Max) of the total sugars without adversely affecting the stability of the product;

  • Sugar boiled confectionery
  • Lozenges
  • Chewing gum and bubble gum
  • Chocolate
  • Ice Lollies or edible Ices and Ice candies

In the regulation dealing with OTHER FOOD PRODUCT AND INGREDIENTS a new category will be added called Dietary Fibre (Dextrin –soluble fibre). This means glucose polymer of natural origin obtained by dextrinification, i.e. dry roasting acidified starch under specific conditions and further purified. The average degree of polymerization of Dietary Fibre (Dextrin – soluble fibre) is from 12-25 compared to several thousand for starch. Unlike starches and maltodextrins, which contain only “digestible” α- (1, 4) and α- (1, 6) glucosidic linkages, Dietary Fibre (Dextrin – soluble fibre) also shall contain “indigestible” α- and β- linkages.

Dietary Fibre (Dextrin-soluble fibre) may be used in the food products stated below at GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices). The source of the ingredients (wheat/maize) shall be Non- Genetically Modified (GM).

  1. Flakes and ready-to-eat dry breakfast cereals
  2. Noodles and pasta
  3. Salad dressing or toppings and spreads
  4. Table top fibre as filler or carrier and cereals
  5. Other snack food or savouries
  6. Bakery products including biscuit, cookies, bread, cakes mix and pastries
  7. Other products where dextrin is allowed under these regulations.

These products shall bear the label declaration as provided in the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 201. Provided that in above products if it is intended to make claims

  • on source of dietary fibre, it shall not contain less than 3g/100g or 1.5g/100Kcal:
  • on high source of dietary fibre, it shall contain not less than 3g/100g or 1.5g/100 kCal and not more than 6g/100g or 3g/100 kCal

Labelling Amendments for Plant Sterol (Phytosterols), Isomaltulose, High Fibre Dextrin

In Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and labelling) Regulations, 2011 the FSSAI has added the following labelling requirements.

Every package of food product containing Isomaltulose shall bear a declaration

Contains Isomaltulose—(calories)

Every package of flakes and ready to eat dry breakfast cereals, noodles, pasta, salad dressings or toppings and spreads, table top fibre as filler or carrier, cereals and other snack food or savouries and bakery products including biscuits, cookies, bread, cake mix and pastries and other products where dextrin is allowed under these regulations containing added Dietary Fibre (Dextrin-soluble fibre), shall bear the following

Contains Dietary Fibre (Dextrin) —– (Source of soluble Dietary Fibre)

Fat spread, milk products, milk based fruit drink, fermented milk products, soy and rice drinks, cheese products, yoghurt products, spice sauces, salad dressings, juices and nectars, edible oils, and bakery products containing plant sterol shall contain the following declarations

  • Contains Plant Sterol (as Phytosterols) —g/100g or 100ml.
  • Patients on cholesterol lowering medication should use the product under medical supervision
  • May not be nutritionally appropriate for pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of five years.

FSSAI proposes amendments in the standards of Cereal products including Noodles & for Fortified Foods

FSSAI proposes amendments in the standards of Cereal products including Noodles & for Fortified Foods

FSSAI proposes amendments in the standards of Cereal products including Noodles & for Fortified Foods

Through a notification dated 20 July, 2016 the FSSAI has proposed to make amendments to the standards in the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, in the category related to ‘Cereals and Cereal Products.’ The proposed amendments are for products like fortified atta, fortified maida, Durum wheat maida, quinoa, fortified rice, instant noodles, tapioca sago or palm sago and Pearl millet flour.  The FSSAI has also invited comments and suggestions from WTO and SPS Committee members within a period of 60 days from the above mentioned date.

Fortified Atta, Fortified Maida and Fortified Rice have been defined as products in which the following nutrients can be added

  • Calcium,
  • Iron
  • Zinc,
  • Vitamin A and
  • Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C),
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Niacin,
  • Pyridoxine (vitamin B6)
  • Folic acid,
  • B-12
  • Vitamin D

The FSSAI has proposed different levels of fortifications for these nutrients which will be in milligrams per kilogram of atta, maida or rice. The standards of atta, maida and rice will be the same as already prescribed in the regulations.

Durum Wheat Maida

Since there were no standards for Durum Wheat Maida earlier, the FSSAI proposes to add standards for the new product in the category ‘Maida’ Since this is a new product it will be defined as a product prepared from grains of durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) by grinding or milling processes in which the bran and germ are essentially removed and the remainder is comminuted to a suitable degree of fineness. Standards proposed will be as follows

Moisture  Not more than 13.0 per cent
Total Ash  Not more than 1.75 per cent on dry basis
Acid insoluble ash in dilute HCL Not more than 0.15 per cent on dry basis
Protein    Not less than 11.0 percent on dry basis
Alcoholic Acidity  Not more than 0.12 per cent
Particle Size Min 80% shall pass through a 315 micron silk gauze or man-made textile sieve


FSSAI has proposes another change in the sub- regulation dealing with the category related to “Food Grains” where it proposes to add a new product called Quinoa. This product consists of dried matured grains obtained from the plants of Chenopodium

quinoa from which Saponins have been removed by washing, scouring, dehulling or

by any other suitable process.  Proposed standards are as follows

Moisture  Not more than 12.0 per cent
Extraneous Matter             Not more than 1 percent by weight
Other edible grains       Not more than 0.5 per cent
Damaged grain  Not more than 3.0 per cent
Uric acid  Not more than 100 mg/kg
Saponin Content  Not more than 0.1 per cent)

Instant Noodles 

In the sub-regulation dealing with “Macaroni Products” the FSSAI proposes to now add standards for Instant Noodles. According to the definition Instant noodles does not include the seasoning. It can be prepared from cereals like wheat flour and/or rice flour and/or flour of any other cereals, millets and legumes covered under “Cereals and Cereal products” and water as the main ingredient. It can have additives like starches, dried fruits and vegetables, nuts, edible protein and egg Powder may be added. It is characterized by the use of pregelatinization process and dehydration either by frying in any oil or fat prescribed in the regulations. The product should be presented as Fried noodles or Non-fried noodles.Standards proposed are as follows

Fried Noodles Non-fried Noodles
Moisture Not more than 10.0 percent Not more than 13.0 percent.
Acid insoluble ash(on dry basis ) Not more than 0.3 percent Not more than 0.3 percent
Acid Value Not more than 2.0

Tapioca Sago or Palm Sago 

In sub-regulation relating to “STARCHY FOODS” the FSSAI has proposed that the name SAGO be replaced with Tapioca Sago or Palm Sago. This is a product made from the starch obtained either from Sago Palm (Metroxylon sagu and M.rumphii) or tubers of tapioca (Manihot esculenta crantz syn. Utilissima) and will be free from all kinds of adulterants including bleaching, whitening agents or optical whiteners, sweetening agents or any other adulterant.

Standards proposed will be as follows 

Moisture   Not more than 11.0 per cent
Total Ash (on dry basis) Not more than 0.40 per cent
Acid insoluble ash (on dry basis)   Not more than 0.10 per cent
Starch (on dry basis)   Not less than 98.0 per cent
Protein (on dry basis)   Not more than 0.3 per cent
Crude fibre (on dry basis)     Not more than 0.20 per cent
pH of aqueous extract                    4.5 to 7.0
Colour of gelatinized alkaline paste in the porcelain cuvette on the lovibond scale not deeper than  0.4R+1.5Y
Sulphur Dioxide content    Not more than 100 ppm

Pearl Millet Flour

In the category of bakery products under ‘Cereals and Cereal Products’ new product is proposed to be included by FSSAI called Pearl Millet Flour. Definition for Pearl Millet flour is that it will be a product obtained from pearl millet grains (Pennisetum americanum L.) through a process of milling. Prosed standards for this is as follows

Moisture  Not more than 13.0 per cent
Total Ash  0.8 to 1.0 per cent on dry basis
Protein (N×5.7)  Not less than 8.0 per cent on dry basis
Fat   Not more than 6.0 per cent
Crude Fibre   Not more than 1.5 per cent on dry basis
Particle Size Shall pass through 1mm sieve

‘No junk food on Chandigarh schools’ premises

Chandigarh: Taking note of the fact that consumption of food that is high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) is rampant amongst school children, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has directed Chandigarh education department to take undertaking from all private schools that junk food will not be provided on school premises since diseases occurring from such food and obesity have been reportedly found to affect the cognitive and physical development of children adversely.
The commission has asked the department to send a detailed compliance report (DCR) containing strategy adopted and action taken in the matter within 15 days. The same was forwarded to all city based schools by the office of the district education officer.
In the circular, NCPCR while taking cognizance under section 13(1) (f) and (k) of the CPCR Act, 2005 stated that, “The consumption of food that is HFSS has been found rampant amongst school children leading to many health hazards and diseases viz. type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, chronic inflammation and hyperinsulinemia with a risk of cardiovascular diseases in later life.”
Recommending further, the commission stated, “In this regard Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has framed guidelines on making available wholesome, nutritious, safe and hygienic food to school children in India to promote healthy lifestyle, good health, physical fitness and reduce risk of diseases.” NCPCR further recommended that CBSE should ensure compliance to its circular on promotion of healthy snacks is strictly adhered to and follow up action on quarterly basis is done regarding the same.

FSDA to crack whip against illegal bottled water suppliers

AGRA: Food safety and drug administration (FSDA) is planning a crackdown on illegal commercial RO (reverse osmosis) plants running in the city. Moreover it will also initiate action against those who sell untreated tap water as packaged drinking water. Last year, taking a stern view of spurious water being sold to people as “bottled water”, the Prime Minister’s office had shot letters to state governments asking them to immediately put an end to this illegal practice.
Vineet Kumar, who recently took over the charge of FSDA designated officer in Agra, told TOI that ubiquitous RO plants without following the norms are on the top of his list. “Last year after the PMO’s directive Noida and Ghaziabad FSDA under my supervision collected 27 samples of water from various such places, which later were found to be substandard quality. In Agra, the problem is more acute. Very soon we will launch a drive against such establishments.”
There are around 450 Reverse Osmosis (RO) water filtration plants operating in the city, but only 14 large scale RO plants have the licence. A large number of them do not have mandatory water harvesting system.
As per the norms, an RO plant should have certification from Bureau of India Standards (BIS), licence from FSDA, besides a proper water harvesting system.
Kumar said the drive would be conducted to check all these three criteria, and an action would be taken against those who fail in these parameters.
As city’s faces acute shortage of drinking water, bottling plants have mushroomed in the city and supplying water in 20 litter cans for as cheap as Rs 5.
In most case suppliers are just passing ground water as RO purified water and befooling people. Instead of relying on this kind of water, people should go for water purifiers,” the official added.
The PMO letter, addressed to state governments’ chief secretaries and directors (health service), read, “This has come to our knowledge that drinking water assembling in bottles has become good/ handsome business and water is not distilled water but pipe line water assembled in bottles to earn money by unfair means.”