Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has decided to exempt traders who deal in supply of farm produce (particularly grain and pulses) to the food processing industry from being held responsible for the quality of the produce. In this regard, traders who trade in mandis and procure raw material from farmers had alleged harassment at the hands of food safety officials on account of quality of the raw produce.
However, now, the FSSAI has issued an office order, which states that the apex food regulator has amended the rules with regards to enforcement in mandis wherein a provision has been added to the regulation 2.4.6 of Food Safety & Standards (Food Product Standard and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2016, relating to food grains Clause 15. An additional Clause 16 was proposed to be added with respect to unprocessed whole raw pulses – not for direct human consumption.
FSSAI officials reveal that this proposal has already been operationalised with effect from April 13 this year.
“This would prevent avoidable harassment or prosecution of such traders who are procuring raw agricultural produce directly from farmers and selling the raw agricultural produce for further processing. The analysis of such samples when taken would be tested against the standards of raw produce. This is in line with the belief of FSSAI that sampling of primary food should only be encouraged where the same is being sold for direct human consumption,” states the order.
FSSAI has received several representations from various trade associations against enforcement activities undertaken against traders engaged in procuring raw agricultural produce directly from farmers and selling the same for further processing. The traders in mandis were held responsible for quality of the agricultural commodities produced by farmers.
But FSSAI officials admitted that the authority had limited scope in ensuring best farm practices while the department of animal husbandry, agriculture cooperation and farmers welfare and their respective departments in states had the responsibility to ensure that.