Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the apex food regulator, seems to have reviewed its position and keen to shed its anti-food industry image. That is because, after hectic representation and negotiations among the industry, MoFPI (ministry of food processing industries) and health ministry, during the past one-and-a-half years, the FSS Regulations, 2011,seem to be now moving in the direction to accommodate concerns of the industry, particularly with respect to proprietary food.
FSSAI in December issued notification of operationalisation of more than 8,000 additives. This is now followed for standards of proprietary food. Recently the FSSAI has issued a clarification with respect to proprietary food, which explains such food and the regulations governing these products.
Industry experts said that this was a right move and operationality would be improved but concerns remained with regard to licensing as the erstwhile system of product approval (PA) was linked to the licensing and registration process. “Still the online system demands for PA for licensing. The FSSAI should therefore correct the anomaly in the online licensing and registration system,” says one industry representative while adding that the current notification clarifies on proprietary food in a more elaborate manner than Section 22 of the FSS Act.
Section 22 deals with the following categories of foods: (i) genetically-modified articles of food, (ii) irradiated food, (iii) organic foods, (iv) foods for special dietary uses, (v) functional foods, (vi) nutraceuticals, (vii) health supplements, (viii) proprietary food and novel food. According to the earlier point of view of FSSAI, Section 22 stipulates, “Save as otherwise provided under this Act and Regulations made thereunder, 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, functional foods, nutraceuticals, health supplements, proprietary foods and such other articles of food which the Central government may notify in this behalf.”
According to the new notice, proprietary food means an article of food that has not been standardised under these regulations, but does not include any novel food, food for special dietary use, functional food, nutraceuticals, health supplement and such other articles of food which the Central government may notify in this behalf.
Further, proprietary food shall contain only those ingredients other than additives which are either standardised in these regulations or permitted for use in the preparation of other standardised food under these regulations. Also, proprietary food shall use only such additives as specified for the category to which the food belongs and such category shall be clearly mentioned on the label along with its name, nature and composition.
The notice also mentions that proprietary food product shall comply with the prescribed food additives provisions and the microbiological specifications and all other regulations made under the Act. And that the food business operator shall be fully responsible for the safety of the proprietary food.
Meanwhile, the MoFPI, which represents the parent organisation for the food industry, feels elated with the much contended issue of approval now being a thing of the past. According to the ministry officials this will lead to a much-needed impetus to the industry and the slowness that was visible due to PA delays would be no more. And with streamlining of the regulations, the FDI into the sector will also see growth. This will further help in innovation and new product categories that will eventually help the sector to grow.