The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will start a drive to check whether FBOs are properly displaying the licence numbers on their products or not. “An enforcement drive would begin soon,” informed Pawan Kumar Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI, while addressing a convention of All India Food Processors’ Association (AIFPA) held here recently during the Aahar fair.
According to FSSAI, there are some 35 lakh licensee FBOs (Food Business Operators) in the country as of now. And there has been a great deal of need to check whether they were properly displaying the number on the products, for which the last date for compliance was December 31.
Agarwal stated, “35 lakh licensees are within our ecosystem. Enforcement system is huge and much of litigation is not around testing but out of all sampling 90% of the rejection is based on labelling. We will have an enforcement drive to check whether the numbers are printed on packed food properly.”
The drive will ensure that those numbers are displayed on the pack properly, as this number will be helpful to the consumer to reach enforcement if they find anything wrong, according to him.
Meanwhile, with regard to surveillance, the CEO stated that there was a need for risk-based assessment through robust lab infrastructure and use of technology. The CEO pointed out that the FSSAI was working towards a concrete roadmap for accredited labs.
“Lab testing has lots of weaknesses at both Central and state levels, we’re working on it and a concrete roadmap is there to make the labs accredited with NABL. The whole process of accreditation is also being fast-tracked,” he said.
However, surveillance activity was non-existent for some time due to lack of manpower strength. And therefore a greater need for technology-based surveillance activity for risk assessment was desired by the apex food regulator. Together with strengthening lab system and use of risk-based assessment, the enforcement will be transparent and effective, according to the CEO.
The CEO told the FBOs, “The samples (of food products) should be tested twice a year. Many of you perhaps are aware of that. The aim is risk-based assessment, lab accreditation and samples getting tested by FBOs themselves. If there is a chronic defaulter who is not following the norms, only than the enforcement machinery comes into picture.”
Further, the FSSAI CEO, with regard to regulations and standards, stated that the FSSAI was aiming at pragmatic and easy to understand regulation. “We consider ourselves as part of the ecosystem which is responsible for feeding our population. This is a joint responsibility for all of us and we have to work closely and therefore we need to be interacting on day to day basis. We have regular interaction within FSSAI on how to make standards at par with the global benchmarks and fast. Standards is an evolving process, we get feedback and we review it, it takes time and process itself for standard formation is conservative. The decision is taken by the experts in the scientific panel, they make recommendations which than placed before the stakeholders and it then goes to government for legal vetting. Make full use of consultative process,” he told the FBOs.