Tuesday 30 August 2011

Food vendors must don gloves, maintain hygiene or pay 1L fine

MUMBAI: The next time you visit your favourite chai, pani puri or bhel puri stall, or any other small-time food seller, don't be surprised to see the vendors sport aprons and hand gloves. For, according to the new Food Safety Act, hawkers, food vendors and temporary stall owners must follow minimum standards of food safety or pay a maximum fine of Rs 1 lakh.

The new Central Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006, replaces the existing Prevention of Food Adulteration Act; the State Food Safety Act came into effect in Maharashtra from August 5, 2011. With the implementation of the new rules, even vegetable or fruit sellers who use chemicals to ripen their products will be liable for punishment.

"Small-time food stalls, vegetable and fruit vendors and even big-time restaurants - all will have to mandatorily follow basic hygiene rules such as wearing an apron, gloves, using clean utensils and potable water," said Satej Patil, minister of state for Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), in Mantralaya on Monday.

"In this connection, a two-month-long awareness drive will start after the Ganpati festival. Thereafter, those who fail to comply with the norms will be fined for not maintaining the minimum standards of food safety," Patil said.

Besides, to enforce quality control of eatables sold in the state, the government is in the process of setting up a dedicated helpline. "The helpline is aimed at ensuring public participation in the drive," said Patil. "Citizens can call on the number and get their problems heeded to by the FDA officials."

According to the new rule, a suspect food sample seized by officials will be forwarded to the food testing laboratories and reports will have to be delivered within 14 days. "If the sample is not according to the standards, penalty will be imposed on the offender," the minister said.

According to the Act, a maximum fine for selling unhygienic food will be Rs 1 lakh. In case of false advertisements about food products, the maximum fine is Rs 10 lakh. The minimum fine is not mentioned in the Act as it has been left to the officer on duty to decide it.

On the new Act, Sharad Rao, leader of the Mumbai Hawkers' Union, said, "The new rule is nothing but one more method of extorting money from the poor."

Currently, there are 265 food inspector posts sanctioned in the state, of which, more than 40 posts are lying vacant. After inclusion of food inspectors from the BMC, a densely populated city such as Mumbai and Thane will have just 19 and 18 food inspectors, respectively.

In his reply to a query on how will the short-staffed FDA manage the uphill task of monitoring food and other eatables sold by the large network of the street vendors and restaurants, Patil said, "The strength of food inspectors has been increased. Also, food inspectors from the civic bodies will be diverted to the FDA so that it can better implement the rule."

Other than this, the FDA department has initiated a proposal to further increase its manpower, food testing laboratories and infrastructure.

"A Rs 35-crore proposal for the department's makeover has been forwarded to the Union government. It is likely to be approved soon," Patil said. According to the plan, the department is keen on setting up one laboratory in each revenue division.

There are six revenue divisions in Maharashtra. Currently, a food testing laboratory is located in Mumbai and Aurangabad.

Source: The Times of India

Monday 29 August 2011

Awareness Programme on Food Safety


An awareness campaign was organized on Food Safety on 29th August in Delhi. Ujjawal Women’s Association, All India's Women's Conference (AIWC) and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), came forward to organize the same.

Mrs. Beena Jain, President, AIWC, gave an introduction on Food Safety in India. It was followed by a small lecture on Hygiene and short stories on food poisoning and other food borne diseases, by Dr.Lakshmi Devi, Principal, Shaheed Rajguru College of Applied Sciences for Women. Dr. Deepa Joshi came forward and discussed food adulteration and contamination. Directors (A), Shri Asim Choudhary and ADG PFA, Shri Dhir Singh discussed the new Food Safety Act and answered most of the queries.

Ujjawal NGO came forward and presented a small skit on Food Poisoning which was followed by a small lecture on food hygiene by the representatives of Rajguru College. The awareness programme left a meaningful impact on students promising them a healthier tomorrow.

Food Safety Programme

Dr. Beena Jain disusing the importance of Food Safety

Dr. Lakshmi Devi giving a lecture on Food Poisoning

Dr.Dhir Singh discussing Adulteration in food

Skit Presentation

Students paying attention to the presentation

‘New food safety Act more simple & user-friendly’

SURAT: These were some of the provisions of the new Food and Safety Act, 2006, implemented in Gujarat from August 12, 2011, that assistant director DD Shah of the Food and drugs department explained to members of the South Gujarat Hotel and Restaurant Association (SHARA) in a seminar on Sunday.

Shah said the government had rectified all the mistakes of the old act. "Unlike under the old act when offenders were punished as per the whims of officers, it will not be possible in the new act," he said.

"In the past the act was under different ministries of food, health, drugs and excise. Every one made amendments according to their requirements but the new food safety and drugs act is simple and there are no complexities in it,'' he said. Gujarat is the first state to implement the act in totality.

Safe food Science and technology director Ali Patel said, "Hotels will have to take more care of health and hygiene of their staff. Based on the regular kitchen audit, licence will be renewed."

SHARA president Arun Shetty welcomed the guests where as vice president Sanat Reliya proposed the vote of thanks. More than 200 members of Shara attended the seminar held in the city.

Food inspectors of the municipal corporation who took samples on a part-time basis have been replaced by health advisors of the state government

Now, everyone, including roadside food shop owners, will have to get registration and licence, without that they will not be able to do business

Earlier, offenders faced lengthy jail terms but the penalty was light. Now, the jail term will come only after a series of penalties

Source: The Times of India

Saturday 27 August 2011

Awareness Lecture on Food Safety, Bangalore


New Food safety Law is attracting meaningful response from a large section of people in the entire country. Whenever CEO, FSSAI or other senior officials visit other states, the local authorities / bodies arrange interactions.

Director (Admin), FSSAI, during a visit to Bangalore, on a request from local unit of - All India Woman’s Conference (AIWC) made a brief presentation on “New Era In Food Safety”. The various adulterants in food, why food Safety and challenges ahead were shared with the large number of local members of AIWC, middle school students, graduates, faculty members and other interested people.

Sh S.N. Nanjundaiah, Chief Chemist and Public Analyst, State Food and Water Laboratory, Public Health Institute, Bangalore were invited to answer specific queries about testing, various contaminants and how chemicals in food effect public health.

AIWC, Bangalore unit head, complimented the Government, about modern Food Safety Act for ensuring safe food, as well as public health that would be improved overall as it is the need of the hour.

Welcome by AIWC, Bangalore unit

Audience at the Venue

Dir (A) talking to students

Thursday 25 August 2011

Media Interaction about the new FSS Act, 2006

FSSAI has been created for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.

A brief media interaction was organized on 3rd August, Delhi. CEO FSSAI, Directors, and select media persons, including PTI, as well as Business Editor, Dainik Bhaskar, were present. A presentation on - THE NEW ERA IN FOOD SAFETY, was made by Director (Admin), FSSAI who briefly explained the salient points of the new FSS Act 2006.

Sh. V.N. Gaur, CEO, FSSAI, clarified how the new law provides for general provision relating to Penalties, Punishments, Adjudication, Compounding and Summary Trials for food related offences, bringing about a quick and meaningful remedy for various offences and violations.

He explained the transparent system of governance, within the Authority, and Central Advisory Committee of FSSAI. There is constant interaction and participation amongst the various stakeholders to arrive at important decisions.  The expert groups, technical committees, scientific panels, after thorough and detailed discussion, arrive at conclusions.

The various drafts, so generated, are put on FSSAI portal, for public comments and also from stakeholders.

The media persons took keen interest about food science, especially new food items and complimented that such a law is a welcome step for the entire 120 million population of our great country.

The implementation machinery in states, the imported food, the system of licensing, registration, and roles of Laboratories were discussed at length. FSSAI appreciates the interest shown by media in the new law.

CEO, FSSAI exhorted that media being an important stakeholder of the society must take forward the message of Food Safety to each and every corner of the country.

                     Presentation on New Era in Food Safety

                         Media persons assembled for an informal interaction

                         Dir (A), discussing the salient points of the new FSS Act

                           CEO, FSSAI answering the queries of Media Persons

                        Interaction of Media Persons with FSSAI officials

Kerala food safety commissioner’s strong stand against synthetic ice creams

August 25, 2011

It has come to the notice of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) that synthetic ice creams made of petroleum products are being sold in most parts of the country.

This was informed in a circular issued by the food safety commissioner of the Kerala state to district food inspectors.

It said that ice cream was supposed to be made from milk, egg and sugar and that stabilising agents like pectin, agar and propylene are allowed at 0.5%. But manufacturers were making ice creams only by mixing all these stabilising agents and selling them in the market. These ice creams were injurious for health.

The circular has asked the inspectors (food safety officers) to be alert against these malpractices and to take urgent action against these manufacturers.

“People should be aware of these kinds of synthetic ice creams in the market,” it said.

However, the circular said that no such complaints were received so far in the state of Kerala.

Even Maharashtra FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has confirmed that no such case has been received by the Authority yet. However, according to an ice cream consultant, most of the manufacturers are doing so, in order to reduce the input cost and improve the texture of ice cream by making it smoother. ”Stabilisers are like petroleum jelly, which give firmness to the ice cream, without the obstruction of sugar granules,” he said.

Ice cream is a by-product of milk. As per present provision of food law, there should be at least 10 per cent of milk fat and milk protein in the ice cream made from cow milk and buffalo milk. The additives, colours and preservatives used if any, should be clearly mentioned on the label.

Source: FnB News

Wednesday 24 August 2011

FSSAI set up for laying down science-based standards, regulate cos, LS told

August 24, 2011

Government has set up Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) under the provisions of Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006, to lay down science-based standards for articles of food and to regulate, inter-alia, its manufacturers.

The food authority is also mandated to promote consistency between international technical standards and domestic food standards while ensuring that the level of protection adopted in the country is not reduced. Moreover, to ensure compliance of the laid down standards by food processing companies, inspection of such units at regular intervals is done by the enforcement agencies under the Act.

In this regard, the food authority and the commissioners of food safety of the state governments have been empowered to enforce the provisions of the law with regard to the compliance with food standards as prescribed in the Food Safety Standards Regulations, 2011.

This information was given by minister of state for food processing industries Dr Charan Das Mahant in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in another reply, minister of state for consumer affairs, food & public distribution K V Thomas said that government had a policy of maintaining minimum stock of food grains in the Central pool under buffer stock norms for food grains for each quarter of the year as under:

(in lakh tons)

Source: FnB News

Kerala chalks out unique EEE plan for implementing Food Safety Act in state

August 24, 2011

Biju Prabhakar, commissioner of food safety (CFS), Kerala, has issued circular giving guidelines to formulate a strategy for the implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, in the state.

The circular has been forwarded to all district food inspectors / chief food inspectors, which are now redesignated as food safety officers. The commissioner has proposed an "EEE" (Estimation, Education, Enforcement) concept for the implementation of the new Act and Rules.

The first phase involves Estimation. The commissioner told FnB News that the department needed to have a proper database on the hazards in the food industry and their sources. He said that all the efforts of both the enforcement wing and analytical wing shall be directed towards this initiative rather than spending time on launching prosecutions.

The second stage, Education, for the stakeholders, is planned to be carried out almost simultaneously with the first stage of Estimation / Evaluation.

The commissioner said that the state depended on the other states for most of its food requirements. Unless and until the adulteration / hazards were eliminated at the source, the department's job was going to be unmanageable.

The Education stage would involve proposing the government to convene a meeting of the health ministers, health secretaries and food safety commissioners of the four south Indian states in the month of August for ensuring uniform policies in the operation of the law and encouraging them to take penal measures against exporters of hazardous food to Kerala.

Further, it has also been proposed to the government to convene a meeting of the organisations' forums of the food business operators at the government level. As part of the education stage, awareness campaign against junk food at the school level will be initiated under the School Health Programme of the NRHM (National Rural Healthcare Mission).

Similarly, seminars and other awareness camps will be organised at the national, state and district levels to disseminate information through media and will also involve public.

In addition, leaflets, pamphlets, etc. will be printed and distributed through ASHA (Association for Social and Human Awareness) workers, JPHN (Junior Public Health Nurse) / JHI (Junior Health Inspector) of the NRHM. The department is also exploring the possibility of printing messages on the hazards of foods on the rear side of state lottery tickets which will reach around 75 lakh people every week.

The CFS will also instruct (food business operators) FBOs to exhibit permanently at every FBO's premises at conspicuous places showing a toll-free number and e-mail ID of the commissionerate of food safety so that the public could register their complaints.

All the officers will be trained in scientific sampling as well as on the enforcement of the Act to make the department a professional organisation to the extent possible at par with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of the USA.

The commissioner also said that as part of encouraging FBOs to follow food safety standards, accreditation would be given in association with professional quality accreditation agencies which would assure the public the food they take from such operators was safe for human consumption.

Once the education stage is over, during which sufficient time is given to FBOs to improve themselves through series of improvement notices issued by the department, it is planned to launch strict enforcement of the provisions of the Act for the offences committed.

All the chief district food inspectors / district food inspectors were instructed to prepare a Plan of Action for implementing the 'EEE' initiative and submit the database as required under the estimation initiative.

Source: FnB News

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Red tape strangles food safety in city

Aug 23, 2011

CHENNAI: How hygienic is the food you eat out? Well, there is no way you can tell, as the city's food inspectors have not been working because of a typical bureaucratic procedural delay.

Since August 5 this year, when the Food Safety and Standard Act 2006 came into effect replacing the 50-year-old Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, the state health department is supposed to notify food inspectors for urban local bodies. But this has not been done. The result: Food inspectors have stopped inspecting and lifting food samples. Food samples have not been sent for analysis for more than a fortnight.

Government sources said that notification of food safety officers in rural local bodies was already done, but with respect to urban local bodies, the list of officers is yet to come because the municipal administration department has been sitting on the file. "We have not authorized officers in corporations, municipalities and town panchayats," said a government official.

The 17 food inspectors of Chennai, who also act as sanitary inspectors, say they can't lift samples till the government notification comes. "Unless we are notified by the government, formal sampling, which allows prosecution of offenders, cannot be carried out. Informal sampling is ineffective, since it only reveals adulteration, but doesn't allow prosecution," said a health official. Corporation commissioner Karthikeyan said the municipal administration is processing the file.

Ideally, corporation ward 155 should have 25 to 30 food inspectors under the new law. No tradershall manufacture, store, sell or distribute any food item which is unsafe, misbranded or substandard. He should also not employ a person suffering from an infectious or loathsome disease. The seller can be prosecuted if he sells the food beyond its date of its expiry or those handled or kept in unhygienic conditions. No food business should be carried out without a license. Adulterators will be sentenced to jail for six months to one year, with a penalty ranging between Rs1lakh and Rs10lakh.

Consumer Association of India trustee R Desikan said the new law is better with its severe punitive provisions. "The entire food safety system has to be cleaned up. An IPS officer will have to be appointed as commissioner of food safety and the food safety officers should take uncompromising action against offenders with a view to correct them rather than punishing them," said Desikan, who is also a member of the central advisory board on Food Safety and Standard Act.

Source: The Times of India

Monday 22 August 2011

Demands for warning on synthetic ice-creams

Aug 22, 2011

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Food and Safety Commissioner Biju Prabhakar has called for stringent measures against the sale of synthetic ice-creams.

In a press note issued here on Sunday, the Commissioner pointed out that the sale of synthetic ice-creams made using stabilizing agents has come to the notice of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.

The note said that ice-cream must contain 10 per cent milk fat and 3.5 per cent milk protein. The permitted flavour added in the ice-cream for taste and sweetness must be prescribed on the label. The ice-creams which are made using non-permitted stabilizing agents are being sold in front of schools, beaches and parks. The consumption of this ice-cream is highly dangerous to health.

Source: IBN Live

Sunday 21 August 2011

Safety first in food for lactating mothers, infants: SC

Aug 21, 2011

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has ruled that the Government is fully empowered to impose suitable conditions, including use of automated machines, for manufacturing fortified and blended food for lactating mothers and infants as their safety was paramount.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and S S Nijjar rejected the plea of an NGO that conditions laid down for manufacturing food stuffs, by insisting on precise measurements of the ingredients and machinery to be used, were arbitrary.

"The supplier is required to provide a fine mix of all kinds of ingredients, including the revised intake of proteins and calories, to the precise level. In fact, the level of precision is earmarked for each kind of food.

"The procedure adopted is necessary to ensure that there is zero infection in the food which is going to be consumed by infants and the children who are already under nourished.

"It cannot be over emphasised that, since the beneficiaries of the 'Dense Energy Food and Fortified Blended Mixture' are infants from the age group of 6 months to 3 years and pregnant and lactating mothers, it was all the more desirable to have fully automated plants. Such procedure avoids the use of human hands in processes like - handling, cleaning, grinding, extrusion, mixing etc, all of which are done automatically," Justice Nijjar writing the judgement said.

The apex court passed the judgement dismissing the appeal of Shagun Mahila Udyogik Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit challenging certain conditions imposed by the Maharashtra Government for allotting contracts in the production of food under the national " Integrated Child Development Scheme"(ICDS).

Source: The Times of India

Friday 19 August 2011

Rich rewards for whistleblowers

HYDERABAD: Sometimes playing the whistleblower can pay off. A new incentive announced on Tuesday by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) says that it will pay rewards of up to Rs 50 lakhs in cash for information on food adulteration.

Under the scheme, the whistleblower can provide information regarding an offence relating to the "manufacture, storage, distribution, sale or import of any food article unfit for human consumption, about any article of misbranded food, or food containing extraneous matters or adulterants." Information can also be passed on about the processing or manufacturing of food in unhygienic or unsanitary conditions, and manufacture, storage, distribution, sale or import of food adulterant.

But what makes this scheme more interesting and prevention-oriented is that informants can also pass on information about a suspicion of the possibility of adulteration, and not just after the offence has been committed.

Anybody who provides the information will be entitled to a reward for passing on information about persons aiding or abetting any of such listed activities.

"Discussions on the scheme have already taken place. We will start implementing it as soon as we get the official intimation about it," said Dr P Sucharitha Murthy, Food Safety Commissioner for Andhra Pradesh and Director, Institute for Preventive Medicine, Public Health Laboratories and Food (Health) Authority, Hyderabad.

The quantum of reward will be determined on evaluating the severity of the offence under FSS Act, 2006. The extent of (possible) injury to the consumer will also affect the reward amount, which could range between Rs 500 and Rs 50 lakh. The rewards will be disbursed from funds provided to state governments, under a central sponsored scheme.

Another interesting feature of the scheme is that information can also be provided about offences committed by employees of the FSSAI, state authorities engaged in food safety activities, food testing laboratories, and offences committed by food business operators.

The scheme specifies, that in certain cases the entire reward will be given at the time of filing the charge sheet against offenders in the court of law. In other cases, 25 per cent of the amount will be disbursed after tangible action has been taken on the basis of the information provided, 50 per cent at the time of filing chargesheet and 25 per cent when the case has been finally disposed off in favour of the government.

The FSSAI has called for suggestions on the reward scheme for whistleblowers by September 7, 2011.

Anybody who provides the information on food adulteration will be entitled to a reward of up to 50 lakhs by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.

Source: The Times of India

Thursday 18 August 2011

FSSAI to reward whistleblowers exposing food adulteration

August 18, 2011

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has laid down a trap to intercept manufacturers involved in production or marketing of adulterated food items.

To encourage inflow of information from all stakeholders regarding adulterated/unsafe food, the FSSAI has proposed to introduce a scheme of rewards for whistleblowers and informants from the funds being made available to the state governments under a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

In this regard, Section 95 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, has a provision for rewards to be given to the whistleblowers who provide any relevant information on food adulteration.

For receiving information under the scheme, a nodal officer will be nominated in each office of the state Food Safety Commissioner and one at the FSSAI headquarters in New Delhi. The names, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc. of the nodal officers will be widely publicised.

On receipt of the information, the nodal officer will forward the same to the Food Safety Commissioner in the state or the CEO in the FSSAI headquarters, as the case may be, who will then refer the matter to a Standing Committee comprising three senior officers. If the situation demands immediate action, the matter would be submitted directly to the FSC or CEO as the case may be.

The Authority said that the state government may empower the commissioner of food safety to order payment of reward to the person who renders assistance in the detection of the offence.

The whistleblower could provide any information on the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale or import of any adulterated food article .The actual reward amount under each category will depend on the quantum of food articles for which the information has been provided and could be anywhere between Rs 500 to Rs 50 lakh, depending upon the severity of adulteration/offence.

The state/ UT governments would be allotted funds annually for the disbursal of rewards under the scheme. Also, records of information received under the scheme and the follow-up action would be maintained by the state government and a periodic report submitted to the FSSAI. The subsequent year's allotment of funds would be on the basis of utilisation certificates.

The Authority intends to give a wide publicity to this scheme to ensure general public awareness. Thus, feedback would be taken periodically from all the stakeholders about the implementation of the scheme and its success.

Also, the Section would be appropriately modified by the Authority, if required, on the basis of the feedback received after the first year of the working of the scheme.

Source: FnB News





Tuesday 16 August 2011

NIN conducts studies on labelling focussing on consumer knowledge, awareness

August 16, 2011

The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, has undertaken two separate research projects on food labelling—Consumer knowledge, and practices of using labels in India—and—Awareness creation among masses.

These projects are an offshoot of the earlier completed project of the NIN on - Current scenario on food labelling in India - funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO), India. This was informed by Dr Subba Rao, nutrition communication expert, who was also the principle investigator in the earlier project, while speaking to FnB News on Friday.

He informed that the project on consumer knowledge and practices would be undertaken in the Delhi and Hyderabad branches of the Institute. Different age groups will be surveyed for this project.

Consumer studies by way of survey would be an important component of this project, whereby consumers would be questioned outside supermarket stores. They would be asked questions on food labels, like, whether they were easy to comprehend, what did they usually looked out for in the labels, which aspect they did not understand and expectations from a label. Dr Rao stated that the project was being carried out in full swing.

The second important project is to create mass awareness among people. NIN intends to start the project at school and college level as it believes that educational institutes are the fastest medium of spreading awareness.

However, the project has not yet kicked off due to lack of funds and NIN has approached several organisations for the same. However, preliminary instruments for the project have already been developed.

“This project is an important step to educate and spread awareness on reading and comprehending various facets of labelling like nutritional labelling and health claims,” stated Dr Rao.

The earlier mentioned WHO study had also shown a direct relation between education and consumer interest in reading labels. The study showed that though the consumers were acquainted with the labels they could not actually comprehend them. For example, consumers revealed that they had noticed different symbols like Agmark, FPO (fruit product order) and ISI, but were not sure what they actually meant and could not relate them to the product.

Like, Agmark is used to denote quality of agricultural products, spices, etc. and FPO is used for fruits and vegetables.

They also did not have an idea which label / symbol is mandatory and which is not.

Like in India, FPO is mandatory but Agmark and ISI are not, but consumers mostly looked out for ISI label. Also, nutrient labelling, though mandatory from March 2009, was not much understood by the consumers. Like if a product had salt, what were the possible ailments which were likely to be triggered if the product was consumed in excess, particularly for those consumers for whom salt was not recommended.

For this, the Western countries have come up with ideas like placing a red symbol for salt. Though this did not meet with much success even there as manufacturers found their products marginalised due to the fear / perception imprinted on the minds of the consumers due to the symbols. However, such ideas with more deliberation and development were needed in India and could be implemented after careful experimentation, according to Dr Rao.

Also that in India, most labels were text-based, hence, a good idea would be to resort to symbol-based labelling.

NIN has submitted the WHO report and also sent a copy of the report along with recommendations to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) as input for the new food law. Incidentally Dr Sesikeran, director, NIN, Hyderabad, is the chairman of the labelling and claims / advertisement panel of the Authority.

Along with Dr Rao, Dr A Laxmaiah, public health expert, NIN, and Dr Sudarshan Rao, food safety expert, NIN, were integral part of the project.

Source: FnB News

Saturday 13 August 2011

Stevia is sweet but addictive

August 13, 2011

Stevia, may be touted as a healthy herbal alternative sweetener to sugar for treatment of many ailments but as per law it cannot be used or sold as additive in food products.

In fact, those selling it in any form that is meant for consumption are violating the law, said VN Gaur, chairperson of the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). There have been many complaints that some unapproved food items, ingredients, food additives etc. are being used in preparation of food products or being sold as such.

“We want to tell one and all that Stevia as artificial sweetener is not permitted under PFA Rules, 1955 which is now replaced with the FSSAI Act. There is no mention of herbal sweeteners in the Act.”

Gaur told The Pioneer that the authority could not allow its usage in food as there has been no trials which have been conducted to prove its efficacy. “However, we are in the process of preparing standards for the Stevia but again that would be only after intensive discussion with our experts.”

Intriguingly, even though the herbal product is not legally allowed to be used as an artificial sweetener, it is being widely sold in the market by various companies in various forms claiming treatment of ailments like diabetes, high blood pressure, gingivitis, digestion ailments besides weight loss.

Botanically known as Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni (Family- Asteraceae), Stevia is a sweet herb with mid green and intensely sweet leaves. The compounds in the leaves are called stevioside and rebaudioside and they can be more than 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Japan is the biggest market of stevia. In India, it is being cultivated in States such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Besides, stevia, the FSSAI has also prohibited Sucralose in sugar which is being marketed as low calorie sugar, it is not permitted as per existing Food Laws, said a senior official from the Food Authority.

He said that some products are being sold by using an adjective or suffix with the name of the product without adhering to the standards. For instance, under rules, the word ‘butter’ will not be associated while labelling the product i. e. fat spread. “Therefore, those using the word ‘butter’ with or without prefix or suffix or an adjective cannot be used to identify or describe a product which is actually not “butter” and does not meet the standards.

“We have asked all the states to take legal action against those indulging in such unwanted practice,” the officer said.

Source: Pioneer

Panel finds no adverse effect of energy drinks: Azad

Aug 13, 2011

Thursday 11 August 2011


Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 has been completely unrolled with the notification of regulations. The Act has become operational in the entire country from 5th August, 2011.

To commemorate the occasion, a ceremony was held at the FSSAI head quarters, FDA Bhawan, Kotla Road, Delhi, in the presence of large number of officials of FSSAI. Director (Admin), welcomed the Chairperson, Sh. P.I. Suvrathan, Chief Executive Officer, Sh. V.N. Gaur - with a bouquet of flowers, as well as other senior officials and staff to this momentous occasion. He exhorted that we must take forward the noble and dynamic food legislation which has many new features to handle modern food products.

The officials of FSSAI who left after completion of deputation were fondly remembered, felicitated and their contribution was appreciated. Sweets were distributed among all the present members. Few of them shared their nostalgic moments from the date of inception of FSSAI till the final unrolling of the law.

Towards the end, a group photograph was taken as a token of remembrance, wherein all the staff members came forward to participate actively.  

        Chief Executive Officer, Sh. V.N. Gaur, Chairperson, Sh. P.I. Suvrathan

Director (A), offering sweets to Chairperson, Sh. P.I. Suvrathan and Chief Executive Officer, Sh. V.N. Gaur


         Group Photograph of FSSAI family

No taking this meal lightly

Aug 11, 2011

VARANASI: The district education department is ready to crack the whip against government schools unwilling to cook mid-day meal on school premises. They usually hand over the task to NGOs instead. As a first strict measure, salaries have been withheld of principals who have not started preparation of the meal on school campus despite construction of kitchen sheds.
"Principals of schools where the task of mid-day meal preparation has been given to NGOs in the district are under scanner," informed basic shiksha adhikari (BSA) Suryabhan. "Strict monitoring of meal preparation in schools is being done on a regular basis. All schools have been instructed to come up with the meal as per the menu for the day," he added.
There are a total of 1,032 government primary schools and 352 upper primary schools in the district. While nearly 90% of primary schools have witnessed construction of kitchen sheds, 75% of upper primary schools have set up kitchen sheds within school premises. In addition, as many as 116 primary schools and 27 upper primary schools are run by the Varanasi Nagar Nigam, out of which 87 schools are supplied the meal with the help of NGOs.
Saying there is a clear guideline under mid-day meal scheme (also called National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education, 2006), where safety and hygiene standards are important during the preparation of the meal, the BSA emphasised that kitchen-cum-store was a vital part of the scheme to ensure safety and hygiene. "There has been an increase in the conversion cost per student. It has been raised to Rs 2.69 for primary and Rs 4.03 for upper primary students. The programme, while addressing classroom hunger, also contributes to the overall improvement in teaching, learning transaction, a vital component of the Right to Education (RTE) Act that has been in force since April 1, 2010," he added.
However, the office has also received a note of complaints regarding difficulties in preparation of MDM on the school premises. One of the most common complaints has turned out to be difficulty in ensuring the strict norms for preparing the meal, a reason good enough to bring principals of such schools under scanner. While adhering to safety and hygiene aspects of the meal has emerged as a challenging task, other factors like engaging time to ensure supervision and disturbance of class hours has also emerged as reason strong enough to hand over the task to NGOs.
Importance of kitchen-cum-store
Kitchen-cum-store is a vital part of the mid-day meal scheme. Absence of kitchen-cum-store or inadequate facilities would expose children to food poisoning and other health hazards as well as fire accidents. Kitchen-cum-stores should be separate from classrooms, preferably located at a safe, but accessible distance. They should be well ventilated and designed so that there is a separate storage facility with locks to check pilferage. On no account should kitchen-cum-stores have thatched roofs or other inflammables, like straw, bamboo and synthetic material.
(As per guidelines of MDM scheme)

Source: The Times of India

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Food handlers often don't have health certificate

CHENNAI: Last week, George Mathew, a marketing manager in a private bank, was admitted to hospital with severe stomach cramps caused by a bacterial infection. Doctors said the lunch he had at a restaurant had probably been contaminated with salmonella.

Mathew's case isn't uncommon. Many doctors say lack of hygiene among chefs, cooks and food handlers can lead to contamination of food.

A quick survey by this paper in at least 10 small restaurants and fast food joints in Saidapet, Anna Salai, Mambalam, Royapettah and Tambaram showed that many waiters and cooks did not possess certificates saying they were free of communicable diseases. Many said they were not aware they needed such certificates.

Director of public health Dr R T Porkai Pandian said food safety rules made it mandatory for every person handling food in hotels-big or small-to posses a communicable disease-free certificate, which is valid for one year. Non-profit organisations such as Consumer Association of India (CAI) said that the civic authorities failed to conduct routine checks to ensure food safety . "There are no routine checks. We have not heard of any hotels being pulled up for lack of such certificates," said CAI director (food safety division) Sandana Rajan. Chennai Corporation health officer Dr B Kuganantham refused to comment.

Hoteliers said that most staff are from small cities, and usually do not have good personal hygiene habits. "The corporation must have a training programme to teach them what they must do to ensure food safety. They should be taught about personal safety and food safety," said E Sarath Babu, CEO of Food King, a catering company. Some hotels said their staff undergo stool and urine tests every three months and are also checked for skin diseases. Luxury hotels like The Park and ITC Sheraton Hotel and Towers said they have routine internal and external audits. ITC Sheraton has a Dutch company that conducts surprise audits. "We have a microbiologist on board, who checks the quality of air, water and food. They take swabs from hands to check personal hygiene," said executive chef Praveen Anand. The hotel has colour-coded boards for vegetables and meat. "We ensure there is no cross-contamination . Vegetables are chlorinated before they enter the kitchen area," he said.

Source: The Times of India

Monday 8 August 2011

Now, law to nail adulterators

August 7, 2011

Consumers will now have the power to take adulterators of food products to task as the first time in the history of food inspection in India, buyers have been empowered to take samples, get those tested and lodge complaints for prosecution of accused.
The move forms part of the transition from the old system where eight sets of regulations governed varied food products to a new regime which provides a unified law to regulate the entire range of food products in the market.
The Food Safety and Standards Act passed by Parliament in 2006 is in operation across India from August 5. The law took time to roll as standards for implementation were being developed.
In its present form, the Act will for the first time cover nutraceuticals, the term used to describe food products with health benefits to people. All nutrition supplements, health and functional foods, which dieticians and fitness trainers routinely administer to people, will also be regulated and their safety mandated.
The law also fixes, unlike in the past, the time limit for prosecutions after a complaint has been lodged with the food inspector. Trial has to begin within a year from the date of commission of offence. The provision assumes importance as one lakh food related cases are pending in courts. — PTI

Source: The Tribune

Sunday 7 August 2011

From farm to fork, new law to protect you

LUCKNOW: Eating spicy snacks on city streets might become safer. With the comprehensive new food safety rules finally coming into effect from Friday, "safe food" is something every citizen, both in the country and UP , can demand and expect.

To ensure this, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, an autonomous body under the union ministry of health, has put in place The Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, a law that will regulate the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale as well as import of food items.

"With FSSA, people can look forward to a strengthened enforcement structure. Under the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, supervision was minimal. Now a senior officer of the state government, designated as state food commissioner, will head a more streamlined system and report to the FSSAI, the dedicated organisation set up to monitor all food safety related matters. Accordingly, we believe enforcement will improve," said VN Gaur, chief executive officer, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. The new law is expected to incorporate several first-time changes. For instance, it will be mandatory for street food vendors to register with the state health departments, which are charged with policing hygiene. In addition, prosecution of those charged with and found guilty of adulteration, will be done in about 3 months, except if cases are 'exceptionally complicated'.

In addition, the state government will for the first time, put in place special or fast-track courts to deal with matters pertaining to food safety. In a significant departure from the existing practice, the law also provides that if food safety officers fail to test samples, individual citizens can test samples of food products themselves (for this they must follow the guidelines laid down under FSSA).

State Food Commissioner, Archana Agarwal, said, "The structure of the new legislation is almost fully in place in UP. The movement of the structure will also begin in a few days. Over time, we hope to see this act translating into safer food for everyone." The FSSA was adopted by the Parliament in 2006, but its implementation was delayed after industry bodies repeatedly raised concerns over inadequate number of testing facilities in the country to implement the legislation. Currently the country has 50 government laboratories where food samples can be tested. Gaur said, "We conducted a gap study in each case and informed the concerned state governments that labs needs to be upgraded. The preparedness of UP was reviewed about 15 days ago and UP was found in an advanced stage of transition." The FSSA will also integrate all existing food laws in the country. Under the old legislation, India's food sector was governed by eight separate food laws for meat, milk, edible oil, fruits and vegetables.

The new legislation also provides that in addition to state government, FSSAI, under the ministry of health and family welfare, the civic bodies and village councils will also be in charge of implementing the new food law.

While acknowledging that the law is 'progressive', industry bodies, however, are not very hopeful of the law.

Source: The Times of India

Veg or non-veg? Labels now make it clear

HYDERABAD: It is now easier to know whether any packaged food is vegetarian or non-vegetarian instantly.

The Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011, issued in the gazette of India, states that, beginning August 5 it is mandatory for all food manufacturers to indicate as to whether the food item contains any non-vegetarian ingredients or not. This will be indicated in the form of a red or green circle in a square on the package.

A red circle is to indicate the presence of non-vegetarian ingredients in the food item, while a green circle indicates that the food item in question is suitable for vegetarians.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has taken this decision after holding consultations with the experts. "The regulations are intended to make packaged food more transparent for the public. The FSSAI's rules will certainly be more stringent for manufacturers, but this is in larger public interest and to meet food safety standards requirements internationally," Kalpagam Polasa, scientist and head, Food and Drug Toxicology Research Centre, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) told STOI.

The Food Safety and Standards Regulations 2011, has also stated that labels on products should not use words implying recommendations by the medical profession. The word 'recommended by medical practitioners or any other words implying or suggesting that the food is recommended, prescribed, or approved by members of the medical fraternity or even approved for medical purposes are not permitted on the packaging. Manufactures often resort to such sales gimmicks by suggesting to the consumer that the product is healthier, and has been recommended by members of the medical profession.

The rules for fruit products have also been made more stringent than before. Any fruit syrup, juice, squash, or beverage standardized under the Food Safety and Standards (Food products standards and food additives) Regulations 2011, that does not contain the prescribed amount of fruit juice or fruit pulp or fruit content should not be labelled as a "fruit" product. "Any food product which does not contain the specific amount of fruit and is likely to deceive, mislead or give a false impression to the consumer that the product contains fruit, whether by use of words or pictorial representation, shall be clearly and conspicuously marked on the label as 'added' (name of the fruit flavour)," say the new rules.

Source: The Times of India

Saturday 6 August 2011

Rs 10 lakh penalty on adulterated food

JAIPUR: With the implementation of the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act 2006 in the state from Friday, a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh would be imposed for distribution or sale unhygienic and adulterated food.

The accused person will get a minimum of six months or life imprisonment. Earlier, the penalty was between Rs 500 and Rs 5,000 with minimum three months to life imprisonment depending on the nature of offence.

The Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act 1954 has been amended to form new FSS Act. The objective of the PFA Act was to prevent adulteration in food articles but the aim of the FSS Act is to ensure safe and hygienic food.
Director health B R Meena, who will be Food Safety commissioner under the Act said, "The new Act is stricter as the penalty is heavier. Also, test will be conducted of the samples and its report would come in 14 days, which earlier took 40 days."

Besides, the provisions for penalties are different in both the Act. In PFA, the adulteration trail cases will not be presented in anything less than the CJM court. But, in the new Act, there is a three-tier system. The designated officer, who will be chief medical and health officer will present the adulteration case to adjudicating officer. If the case is not solved, it would be presented before the commissioner of food safety and last would be court. The health department claimed the new Act would check adulteration.

The official claimed, "Restaurant owners will have to take more precautions to keep their place clean and hygienic or they will have to face action," he said.

Moreover, the district supply office official said there role would be more like raiding eatery stores, factories and other units.

Source: The Times of India

Friday 5 August 2011

Food Safety Act takes effect from today

Aarti Dhar

Initiating a new era in food safety, the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 will come into force across the country from Friday making it at par with the international standards. It will ensure improved quality of food for the consumers and censure misleading claims and advertisement by those in food business.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), established under the overarching legislation, will lay down science based standards for food items and regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. As many as 22 States and Union Territories now have Food Commissioners in place as required under the Act, while seven are expected to do so by the time it is enforced.

The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which comes into effect five years after it was passed in Parliament, subsumes various central Acts like Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954 , Fruit Products Order of 1955, Meat Food Products Order of 1973, Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order of 1947, Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation)Order of 1988, Solvent Extracted Oil, De- Oiled Meal and Edible Flour (Control) Order of 1967, Milk and Milk Products Order of 1992 and also any order issued under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 relating to food. It will ensure prevention of fraudulent, deceptive or unfair trade practices which may mislead or harm the consumer, and unsafe, contaminated or sub-standard food.

Talking to reporters here, V.N. Gaur, Chief Executive Officer of FSSAI, said the Food Safety and Standards Authority will broadly frame regulations to lay down the standards and guidelines for food items and specify an appropriate system of enforcing various standards. It will specify mechanisms for accreditation of certified bodies engaged in certification of food safety management system for food businesses, and procedures for accreditation of laboratories.

Biological risk

The FSSAI, set up in 2008, will collect and collate data regarding food consumption, incidence and prevalence of biological risk, residues of various contaminants in foods products, identification of emerging risks and introduction of rapid alert system. The data will help in the implementation of the proposed Food Security Bill and also contribute to the development of international technical standards for food, sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards.

While the FSSAI will be based in New Delhi, the states will have a Food Safety Commissioner, and the SDM who will be the designated office at the district level to issue licenses along with the Food Safety Officers (Food Inspectors) who have been trained for their new roles.

According to Mr. Gaur, while defining the roles of food business operators and regulator (FSSAI), the Act has provision for compounding offences (except for which punishment is prescribed), adjudication and trials in Appellate Tribunals and special courts, including summary trials. The time limit for prosecutions has also been fixed. The trial has to start within a year from the date of commission of offence. As of now, more than one lakh cases related to food standard offences are pending in various courts across the country.

The four major food-testing laboratories have been taken over by the Authority and it is in the process of acquiring two more. But the bigger challenge before the government is to upgrade the 72-odd food testing laboratories at the State level which are woefully inadequate for the modern requirements particularly in the wake of India being a signatory in the WTO. The Authority proposes to grant Rs. 5 crore each for the strengthening of these laboratories under the 12 {+t} {+h} Five Year Plan.

Source: The Hindu