The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has reconstituted the Central Advisory Committee (CAC) that has a role to advice the apex food regulator on a variety of issues pertaining to safety in food and business. In this committee, the chief executive officer of FSSAI has been named the chairperson while two members each have been chosen from the industry, agriculture, research and consumer rights fields.
The names that will be representing the industry on the committee include Nirupama Sharma from PHD Chambers and D V Malhan from All India Food Processors’ Association.
Pertaining to the formation of the committee, a gazette notification has been issued recently by FSSAI. According to officials from FSSAI, the term of the committee is six years but those who have been named as its members will be part of the committee for a fixed period of three years. After three years, there will be a review of the committee and same members might continue or new members would be inducted into the committee. Previously the committee was formed in 2009.
According to D V Malhan, the CAC’s objective is to strengthen the dialogue among various stakeholders that include FBOs, consumers and those that are belonging to the regulatory framework.“We would try to help the FSSAI in understanding the way Indian FBOs work, particularly in the smaller and medium sector, so that before taking any decision, the regulator should be able to analyse the ground reality,” he said, while pointing towards the recent controversy on the usage of potassium bromate in bread manufacturing.
The committee includes two representatives from the field of agriculture – Ajay Jakhar from Bharat Krishak Samaj, and Dr T P Rajendran, and two from the consumers’ side including Bejon Kumar Mishra, consumer rights activist, and George Cheriyan.
According to Ajay Jakhar, food safety starts right from the farmland and there is a serious challenge in preharvest timings. “Spurious pesticide poses a serious challenge to food safety and the farmers are needed to be given advice about the best agriculture practices. Use of pesticides in farmland and antibiotics for animal husbandry should be monitored carefully, which ultimately comes in the food chain. Certainly the FSSAI wanted the farming community to be part of the whole ecosystem of food safety,” stated Jakhar.
Meanwhile, Dr Deepa Bhajekar and Dr S S Marwaha will be representing the research bodies and food labs while all the food safety commissioners in the state will be part of the CAC. Besides, the chairman of the scientific committee would also be part of the CAC.
According to sources in FSSAI, the members have been chosen in order to give every stakeholder a seat while ensuring that the food safety ecosystem is covered completely.