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கடைகளில் அதிகாரிகள் திடீர் ஆய்வு

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Categories: Ariyalur, DISTRICT-NEWS

Food Importers meet FSSAI Chairman with concerns, assured of early resolution

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Food Importers meet FSSAI Chairman with concerns, assured of early resolution

A delegation led by Amit Lohani, Founder and Director of the Forum of Indian Food Importers (FIFI), the apex body representing food importers across India, met Ashish Bahuguna, the newly appointed Chairman of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, on September 1. "We presented him with various concerns of the trade and the ambiguity faced by FIFI members and sought his suggestions to the issues raised by us," informed Lohani about the purpose of the meeting.

As a forum for international foods importers, FIFI has been working very closely with FSSAI since its inception to evolve better understanding of food laws and create healthy trade environment for compliance. Over the years, imported products have also encouraged the Indian food industry to develop and manufacture food products matching international standards.

The major concerns voiced by the FIFI delegation at the meeting with the FSSAI chairman were chiefly about the issues related to FFAI norms. Members of the delegation comprising V.N. Dalmia of Dalmia Continental, Rajneesh Bhasin of Borges International, Rakesh Banga of Farmland Foods and Uday Chugh of Vriddhi Specialty flagged off trade concerns related to:

Clarity on Food Code and CODEX: FIFI members expressed the view that the trade feels that since Product Approval is no longer part of the process after being struck off by the Supreme Court recently, the norms and guidelines of the Indian Food Code should now be followed. With more than 4,000 categorizations of products, the IFC norms are extensive enough to cover in its ambit almost all the products imported in India. Members impressed upon Bahuguna to follow the IFC norms for import clearances. "This would come as a massive relief from the current ambiguity in trade after the PA clause was struck off by the Supreme Court," was the collective view of the delegation.

According to the press note issued by FIFI on the outcome of the meeting, Bahuguna assured the delegation of resolving this issue and put in place guidelines for a more transparent process to facilitate trade. Members felt that he was very positive on the early resolution of the ambiguity on the matter.

Labeling concerns: FIFI members highlighted their concerns on getting the NOC from FSSAI. "Due to minor errors / deficiencies in labeling, sampling is not done and the consignment languishes awaiting clearance and NOC from FSSAI," pointed out the delegation.

The suggestion put forward was that any minor deficiency should be viewed sympathetically and the importer should be given the permission to re-label the product. It was put forward that keeping in view the approved granted by the High courts in several such cases, the order of destruction or re-export should only be used for products which fail the basic safety aspects for human consumption.

In his reply, Bahuguna is reported to have stated that there are a few judgments in favour of relabeling but there has also been one judgment favouring the FSSAI’s point of view. "We are trying to understand the legal ramifications on the subject," is what Bahuguna told the delegation.

FBO Licence: Members expressed their anguish over delay and red tape in obtaining the licence. "The whole process of granting licence smacks of the abuses rampant in the days of License Raaj. Officers ask for favours and minor mistakes are blown out of proportion," pointed out the delegation.

It was therefore suggested that the primary domain of FSSAI should be FBO registration and not licensing, which encourages corruption. The focus should be on traceability of the FBO and the safety of food article sold by him. Annual renewal of licence should be discontinued and a one-time registration process should be initiated.

The delegation, in its release, said that it was happy to note that the Chairman absolutely and unequivocally supported our concern. "He assured us that this would be resolved and that there is no reason why documents are required during the renewal of licences.

SOP of Import: It was pointed out by the delegation that custom duty before the withdrawal of samples at certain ports is at the discretion of officers. The minimum time taken for withdrawal of samples is two days, which sometime exceeds to more than five days. After the withdrawal of samples, getting the receipt of the test results takes an average of 10-12 days from the date of sampling. Even the process of sample withdrawn in Delhi is different than that in Mumbai, resulting in delay in clearance. It was pointed that whereas officers in Mumbai do not ask for the delivery order (received from shipping line post customs clearance) for sample withdrawal, delivery order is asked for in Delhi.

It was suggested that the FSSAI should maintain process parity at all ports. The total time frame for withdrawal of samples till the delivery of test results should not exceed five days. In the case of any delay, the importer should be allowed to take the shipment out on an indemnity bond. It was also brought to light that the cost of delay causes loss to the consumers to the tune of Rs 15,000 daily on account of demurrages and detentions, which is borne by foreign shipping lines.

The delegation was assured that FSSAI was aware of this concern and was in the process of issuing clarity on SOP of import clearances so as to bring more parity at different ports.

Other issues related to the timeframe for sampling, testing, etc, and on having a negative ingredients list were also raised. The meeting, according to members of the delegation, was fruitful and productive and raised expectations of a quick resolution of all the major concerns articulated by FIFI. "This was one of the most positive meetings we have had in FSSAI since VN Gaur’s time. The Chairman listened and clarified on all our concerns and gave positive feedback on issues raised by us," said Lohani.

Categories: NEWS

Nirapara brand of powdered spices banned

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The Commissioner of Food Safety has banned the manufacture, storage, sale, and distribution of the Nirapara brand of chilly, turmeric, and coriander powder, manufactured by KKR Food Products, Kalady, under relevant provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act of India, to protect the interest of consumers.

The decision was taken by the authorities as the spices powders sold under the Nirapara brand were found containing added starch. Food Safety Commissioner T.V. Anupama directed the manufacturer to recall all banned products from the market and file a compliance report with the Commissioner.

Food safety officials, as part of their routine food inspection and sampling work, had collected random samples of Nirapara brand of spices powders from different parts of the State on different dates. The samples analysed at the State Analysis Lab had found that the samples contained added starch.

Following an appeal from the manufacturer, the samples were reanalysed at a referral lab but the results were the same. At least 30 cases of the same nature are pending before adjudicators in different districts in the State.

The officials decided to push ahead with the ban of the products as despite notices sent under Section 46 (4) of the FSS Act, adjudications filed and fines imposed, the manufacturer has continued to sell adulterated spices powder, an official statement here said. All Assistant Commissioners of Food Safety have been directed to inspect godowns of distributors and retail outlets and seize the products for the effective implementation of the ban.

Products found to contain added starch

Food safety officers told to inspect godowns

Categories: NEWS

Patanjali noodles riding on Ramdev’s marketing

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Mumbai, 4 September

At the launch of Patanjali Ayurved’s atta

noodles on Thursday, Baba Ramdev, yoga guru and co- founder of the company, was not only seen having the noodles himself but urging others to do so. Though a yoga guru having instant noodles might seem at odds, it points to the savvy marketer that Ramdev is.

Apart from plugging into the need for ahealthy noodles option in the absence of Maggi, Ramdev has done everything a smart brand ambassador would. This isn’t the only instance when the 49- year- old yoga guru has weaved his magic on promotion and branding. In the 18 years since he co- founded his ayurvedic company along with scholar Balakrishna, he has virtually carried the Patanjali brand on his shoulders.

A recent CLSA report says the unlisted Patanjali Ayurved, which, at the end of 2014- 15 had revenue of about ₹ 2,500 crore, spends practically nothing on advertising and sales promotion. By comparison, the average advertising and sales promotion costs for fast- moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies are nothing less than 12- 15 per cent of sales.

Experts say Ramdev embodies what Patanjali is all about. “ The difference between him and regular brand ambassadors is he lives the brand. There is no gap between what he espouses and what Patanjali wishes to communicate. While personality- led brands aren’t uncommon in advertising — the late Steve Jobs personified what Apple stood for and Richard Branson lends his charisma and charm to Virgin — I don’t think there are any examples of it in ayurveda,” says Kiran Khalap, co- founder, Chlorophyll Brand and Communications Consultancy.

In many respects, Ramdev is also among the busiest FMCG brand ambassadors.

He promotes Patanjali products during his yoga sessions and discourses, weaving it cleverly into his narrative and ensuring his followers also become users of his products.

According to NChandramouli, chief executive of TRA, publishers of the annual Brand Trust Report ( which measures the level of trust in a product or personality), Patanjali Ayurved broke into the list for the first time this year, featuring among the seven most trusted ayurveda brands in the country.

“Baba Ramdev was the only spiritual leader to figure in our top 21 personality list, at number 16 this year. This is the first time in the four years since we launched the report that a spiritual leader has featured on our personality list, otherwise dominated by Bollywood and cricket players,” Chandramouli says.

With ad agency DDB Mudra now working with Patanjali Ayurved to promote some of its products, Ramdev’s aura might only be enhanced. Madhukar Kamath, group chief executive and managing director of DDB Mudra, says the scale of Ramdev’s business attracted his agency to Patanjali.

“They have a great product, a modern manufacturing process, a wide distribution network and a large number of loyal followers, who are also users of the brand. What more would you want from an FMCG company?” Kamath asks.

With Patanjali growing (it has plans to enter almost every FMCG category and increase its reach from 177,000 outlets to two million), Ramdev is unlikely to get any respite from his endorsement duties.

Categories: NEWS

மேகி நூடுல்ஸ்’ தடை நீட்டிப்பில்லை: அரசு முடிவால் இனி தாராள விற்பனை

5,September, 2015 1 comment

உடலுக்கு தீங்கு விளைவிக்கும் வேதிப் பொருட்கள் உள்ளதாக, ‘மேகி’ உட்பட, ஆறு நிறுவன நுாடுல்ஸ்களுக்கு, தமிழக அரசு விதித்த மூன்று மாத தடை முடிந்தது. ‘தடை நீட்டிப்பில்லை’ என, அரசு அறிவித்துள்ளதால், இனி தாராளமாக விற்பனை நடக்கும்.

‘நெஸ்லே’ நிறுவன தயாரிப்பான, ‘மேகி நுாடுல்ஸ்’சில், உடலுக்கு தீங்கு விளைவிக்கும் வேதிப்பொருட்கள் உள்ளதாக சர்ச்சை எழுந்தது; அதனால், இதன் விற்பனைக்கு மத்திய அரசு தடை விதித்தது. தமிழகத்தில், உணவு பாதுகாப்பு துறையினர் நடத்திய பரிசோதனையில், மேகி உட்பட, ஆறு நிறுவன நுாடுல்ஸ்களில், அனுமதிக்கப்பட்ட அளவை விட, காரீயம் அதிகம்

இருந்தது தெரிய வந்ததால், அவற்றின் தயாரிப்பு மற்றும் விற்பனைக்கு தமிழக அரசும் தடை விதித்தது.அரசு விதித்த மூன்று மாத தடை, இம்மாதம், 3ம் தேதியுடன் முடிந்தது. ‘தடை மேலும் நீட்டிக்கப்படலாம்’ என, நுகர்வோர் எதிர்பார்த்தனர். ஆனால், நுாடுல்ஸ் விற்பனைக்கு அனுமதி

அளிக்கும் வகையில், தடையைநீட்டிப்பது இல்லை என, அரசு முடிவு செய்துள்ளது.

உணவு பாதுகாப்புத்துறை அதிகாரி ஒருவர் கூறுகையில், ‘ஆறு நிறுவன நுாடுல்ஸ்கள் மீதான தடை, இம்மாதம், 3ம் தேதியுடன் முடிவடைந்தது; தடை மேலும் நீட்டிக்கப்படவில்லை. ஏதேனும் புகார்கள் வந்தால், உரிய ஆய்வு நடத்தி, நிறுவனங்கள் மீது நடவடிக்கை எடுக்கப்படும்’

 

ஆறு வகை
என்ன?மேகி நுாடுல்ஸ், வாய் வாய் எக்ஸ்பிரஸ் நுாடுல்ஸ், ரிலையன்ஸ் செலக்ட் இன்ஸ்டன்ட் நுாடுல்ஸ், ஸ்மித் அண்ட் ஜோன்ஸ் சிக்கன் மசாலா நுாடுல்ஸ், கிரைன் சக்தி வெஜ் ஆட்டா நுாடுல்ஸ் மற்றும் நியூ எக்ஸ்ட்ரா டெலிசியஸ் சிக்கன் நுாடுல்ஸ் ஆகியவற்றின் விற்பனைக்குத் தான் அரசு தடை விதித்திருந்தது.

Categories: NEWS

கலப்பட பால் விற்பனை சிக்கினால் ரூ5 லட்சம் அபராதம்

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கோவை, செப்.5:

கோவை மாவட்டத் தில் கொழுப்பு நீக் கப் பட்ட கறவை மாட்டு பால் விற் பனை அதி க ரித் துள் ளது. இப் படி விற் பனை செய் யும் வியா பா ரி கள் சிக் கி னால் ரூ5 லட் சம் வரை அபா ர தம் விதிக் கப் ப டும் என உணவு பாது காப்பு துறை அதி கா ரி கள் எச் ச ரிக்கை விடுத் துள் ள னர்.

கோவை பீள மேடு, சவு ரி பா ளை யம், நல் லாம் பா ளை யம், தொண் டா முத் தூர், கிணத் துக் க டவு, மதுக் கரை உள் பட மாவட்டம் முழு வ தும் கறவை மாட்டு பால் விற் பனை செய் யப் பட்டு வரு கி றது. இந்த பாலில் கொழுப்பு நீக் கப் பட்ட பாலை சேர்த்து பால் வியா பா ரி கள் விற் பனை செய் வ தாக கண் ட றி யப் பட்டுள் ளது. கொழுப்பு நீக் கப் பட்ட பால் லிட்டர் ரூ10க்கு விற் பனை செய் யப் ப டு கி றது. இந்த பத்து ரூபாய்க்கு விற் பனை செய் யும் பாலை வாங்கி கறக் கும் பாலு டன் சேர்த்து பால் வியா பா ரி கள் விற் கின் ற னர். இத னால், பாலில் கொழுப்பு சத்து குறைந்து காணப் ப டும்.

தமி ழ கத் தில் பொது வாக கறவை மாட்டு பாலில் 4.5 சத வீ தம் கொழுப் பும், 8.5 சத வீ தம் எஸ் என் எப் (சாயில்ட் நாட் பேட்) இருக்க வேண் டும். ஆனால், கொழுப்பு நீக் கப் பட்ட பாலை மாட்டு பாலில் கலந்து விற் பனை செய் யும் போது அதில் கொழுப்பு சக்தி மிக வும் குறைந்து காணப் ப டும்.இத னால், இயல் பாக குடிக் கும் கலப்பட பால்

பாலின் சக்தி கிடைக் கா மல் போகும். தற் போது மாவட்டம் முழு வ தும் இப் படி கொழுப்பு நீக் கப் பட்ட பாலை கறக் கும் பாலில் கலந்து விற் பனை செய்து வரு கின் ற னர். இந்த பாலை ஆய்வு கூடத் தில் வைத்து சோதனை செய் தால் மட்டுமே கண் ட றிய முடி யும். பொது மக் க ளால் எளி தாக கண் ட றிய முடி யாத நிலை யுள் ளது.

இத னால்,பால் வி யா பா ரி கள் தற் போ து இந்த புதிய யுத் தியை பயன் ப டுத்தி பாலில் கலப் ப டம் செய்து தர மற்ற பாலை விற் பனை செய்து வரு கின் ற னர். இதனை தடுக்க மாவட்ட உணவு பாது காப்பு துறை அதி கா ரி கள் திட்ட மிட்டுள் ள னர். பால் தொடர் பாக அனைத்து இடங் களி லும் ஆய்வு செய் ய வும் முடிவு செய் துள் ள னர்.

இது குறித்து மாவட்ட உணவு பாது காப்பு துறை நிய மன அதி காரி கதி ர வன் கூறு கை யில் “மாவட்டத் தில் பர வ லான இடங் களில் கொழுப்பு நீக் கப் பட்ட பாலை கறந்த பாலில் கலப் ப டம் செய்து விற் பனை செய் யப் ப டு வது தெரி ய வந் துள் ளது.

கொழுப்பு நீக் கப் பட்ட பாலை கலந்து விற் பனை செய் வது என் பது தர மற்ற பாலை விற் பனை செய் வது என கரு தப் ப டும். இந்த நட வ டிக் கை யில் ஈடு ப டு ப வர் கள் சிக் கி னால் ரூ5 லட் சம் வரை அபா ர தம் விதிக் கப் ப டும். இது தொடர் பாக மாவட்டத் தில் தொடர் ஆய்வு செய்ய திட்ட மிட்டுள் ளோம்” என் றார்.

Categories: Coimbatore, DISTRICT-NEWS

தமிழக காய்கறிகளில் நச்சுத்தன்மை குறைவு கேரளா புகாருக்கு அமைச்சர் விளக்கம்

5,September, 2015 Comments off

சென்னை:”தமிழக காய்கறிகளுக்கு, கேரளாவில் தடை விதிக்கவில்லை. உணவு பாதுகாப்பு சட்டத்தின் கீழ் உரிமம் பெற்று, விற்பனை செய்ய வலியுறுத்துகின்றனர்,” என, வேளாண்துறை அமைச்சர் வைத்திலிங்கம் கூறினார்.தமிழக காய்கறிகள், கேரள மாநிலத்துக்கு தடையின்றி செல்ல வேண்டியதன் அவசியத்தை வலியுறுத்தி, மார்க்சிஸ்ட் மற்றும் இந்திய கம்யூனிஸ்ட் எம்.எல். ஏ.,க்கள், சட்டசபையில் நேற்று, கவன ஈர்ப்புத் தீர்மானம் கொண்டு வந்தனர்.இதற்கு, அமைச்சர் வைத்திலிங்கம் அளித்த பதில்:தமிழக காய்கறிகளில், நச்சுத்தன்மை அதிகம் இருப்பதாக கூறப்பட்டதை அடுத்து, 117 காய்கறிகளின் மாதிரி எடுக்கப்பட்டு, ஆய்வு நடத்தப்பட்டது. இதில், ஐந்து மாதிரிகளில் மட்டும், 1.4 சதவீத நச்சுத்தன்மை இருப்பதாக கண்டறியப்பட்டது.’காய்கறிகளில், 2.7 சதவீதம் நச்சுத்தன்மை இருக்கலாம்’ என, தேசிய அளவில் அனுமதிக்கப்பட்டு உள்ளது.

தமிழகத்தில் உற்பத்தியாகும் காய்கறிகளில், தேசிய அளவில் அனுமதிக்கப்பட்ட அளவுக்கும் குறைவாக, அதுவும், ஐந்து மாதிரிகளில் மட்டுமே நச்சுத்தன்மை உள்ளது.புரளிமாம்பழம், வெள்ளரி, வாழை போன்றவை, தமிழகத்திலிருந்து வெளிநாடுகளுக்கு ஏற்றுமதியாகின்றன. அங்கெல்லாம், ஏற்றுக் கொண்ட போது, கேரளாவில் மட்டும் புகார் கூறுவது சரியல்ல. கேரளாவில் உள்ள வேளாண் பல்கலை பேராசிரியர் ஒருவர், காய்கறிகளில் உள்ள நச்சுத்தன்மையை போக்கும் திரவத்தை கண்டுபிடித்து உள்ளாராம். இந்த திரவத்தில், காய்கறிகளை நனைத்து எடுத்தால், நச்சுத்தன்மை போய் விடுமாம்.இந்த திரவத்தை விற்பனை செய்யவே, தமிழக காய்கறிகளில் நச்சுத்தன்மை உள்ளதாக, புரளியை கிளப்பி உள்ளதாக கூறப்படுகிறது.

தமிழகத்திலிருந்து, 250 லாரிகளில், தினமும், 800 டன் காய்கறிகள், கேரளாவுக்கு செல்கின்றன. தாவர தோழன்எனவே, தமிழக காய்கறிகளுக்கு, கேரளாவில் தடை விதிக்கவில்லை. உணவு பாதுகாப்பு சட்டத்தின் கீழ் உரிமம் பெற்று, காய்கறிகளை விற்பனை செய்ய வலியுறுத்துகின்றனர்.அதேநேரத்தில், பூச்சிக்கொல்லி மருந்துகளை குறைத்து, நச்சு பூச்சிகளை அழிக்க, ‘தாவர தோழன்’ என்ற பூச்சி வகைகளை உருவாக்கவும், விவசாயிகளிடம் விழிப்புணர்வு ஏற்படுத்தவும், நடவடிக்கை எடுக்கப்பட்டுஉள்ளது.இவ்வாறு அமைச்சர் பதில் அளித்தார்.

Categories: NEWS

Nestle can send fewer samples: Bombay HC

5,September, 2015 Comments off
 

MUMBAI: In a further relief for Nestle India, the Bombay HC on Friday clarified that five samples each from among the available nine Maggi variants can be sent for lead testing to three laboratories. So the company need not send five samples each from 750 stored cases of these variants as mentioned in an order last month, while lifting the nationwide ban on sale of the two-minute popular snack.

There are nine approved variants of Maggi of which six are available for the tests, lawyers said later. Hence the samples to be sent for testing now would be 30 each to three labs. The HC said the tests can be done within six weeks starting September 5.

A bench of Justices V M Kanade and B P Colabawalla made this modification to its order. The move came after senior counsel Iqbal Chagla, appearing for Nestle India, pointed out that the court’s intention was for samples from each or available variants to be tested and not from each stored case of the not destroyed noodles. The latter would have result in a huge number of samples.

"There are 592 batches in the 750 cases, which would result in 2,960 samples, and for three labs it would mean 8,880 samples to be sent." The company had moved the court after spotting few "typographical errors" in dates and numbers mentioned in the order passed on August 13 when the bench had set aside the June 5, 2015, ban imposed on Maggi sale by Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) as being without following principles of natural justice.

The HC, after hearing Chagla and Mahmood Pracha (counsel for the FSSAI CEO), accepted the clarifications sought by Nestle to the typos and to the provisions of the food safety under which the tests were to be done. The HC had, while allowing Nestle’s plea against the ban, however, "in public interest" directed that Maggi samples be sent to three certified laboratories for lead testing and, when found to be within limits, manufacturing could resume. The FSSAI had banned Maggi after 30 samples out of 70-odd were found to have high lead content.

Among the "typographical errors" were that the company had issued its press release about withdrawing products on June 5, not June 4 as recorded, and that nine variants have approvals, not eight, and that Maggi Masala Oats is the tenth variant which is pending approval.

The HC judgment, which had come as a victory for Nestle, however allowed the company to begin manufacturing of its popular instant snack only after three labs certify within six weeks that lead content in Maggi is within permissible limits. And the company may sell even the newly manufactured products of all other variants once they are tested and found to contain lead within permissible limits.

The HC in its order had clearly held that FSSAI had "no unfettered discretion to decide what standards have to be maintained by manufacturers of proprietary foods" and "could not impose a ban on the grounds that the lead found in the product of the petitioner was beyond what was represented in its application for product approval, though it was below the maximum permissible limits laid down under the regulations".

Categories: NEWS

The mess that is food regulation

5,September, 2015 Comments off

Safety norms should be implemented with a firm but even hand, as in the US. The Maggi episode smacks of arbitrariness

September 3, 2015:

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has produced a volcanic blast in the Indian food processing industry.

In the process, it is not just Maggi or Nestle which has been singed; the law and the regulator, the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006 (FSSA), and the FSSAI, have been scathed as well. This is especially after the Bombay High Court’s order questioning the lab test results and violation of the principles of natural justice by it, during the process. Both, consumer safety and investment climate are at stake; we need a convergent approach.

In the minds of consumers, while the credibility of the unorganised packaged and non-packaged food products was always in doubt the controversy has eroded their faith in one of the most trusted brands. The entire episode does not bode well for the development of India’s nascent food processing industry.

The industry in India

India is one of the largest producers of food products in the world, while the level of food processing is less than 10 per cent of the agri-produce. Some ₹44,000 crore worth agri-produce is wasted annually. Food processing has multiplier effects on our economy, being one of the largest employment creators. It provides a boost to farm incomes, reduces massive agri-produce wastage, enables value creation through the manufacture of packaged foods, drives investment in cold chain and storage houses, manages supply-side food inflation, attracts domestic and foreign investment, and contributes to exports, amongst others. The sector is especially significant for small and medium enterprises and creating non-farm jobs in rural areas. Due to this immense potential, it is a priority area in the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

For long, the Maggi debate has run along the lines of ‘for or against’ Maggi or FSSAI. Another set of commentators has raised the question of balancing consumer interests with the development of the food industry. However, it is wrong to assume that stringent food safety standards and their implementation runs counter to the development of the food processing industry.

The US for example, is a leading country in the food processing sector, with the world’s most credible and stringent food regulatory regime. Indeed, strong, credible, well-defined, transparent, predictable food safety and regulatory standards and their non-arbitrary, swift, regular implementation, is an imperative for the expansion of our food processing industry. An effective food regulatory regime creates a high level of national and international consumer confidence in processed food products.

The why-me syndrome

While the jury is still out on the Maggi issue, the entire episode raises a few pertinent issues. Why was only Maggi handpicked for the tests? The irregularities in the Indian food industry in the form of adulteration, lack of quality check, misleading labelling, sale of defective food products and other unfair trade practices that go on, are not exceptions but the norm.

Such singling out of one brand gives rise to sense of being victimised, opens the floodgates for political manipulation and corruption, and sets out the wrong precedent where not the rule of law but arbitrariness seems to follow. Such uncertainty also scares away existing and prospective investors from the food processing sector. The effect is already visible as companies withdraw their products from the market and put new launches on hold. Now, the FSSAI has launched an investigation into some other products, yet a uniform, non-arbitrary, across the board application of the law is still wanting. Before that, a reasonable period could be granted to the food industry to pull up its socks.

Further, if such glaring irregularities did exist, these did not occur overnight. How were they allowed to continue for such a long time? This reflects laxity on the part of Central as well as State food regulators, which are not undertaking regular inspections and testing of products. A lack of proper coordination between the two has also been pointed out. The varying results from different labs under the FSSAI bring the credibility of its tests under the cloud. The Bombay High Court order also underscores this fact.

The food industry has, in fact, highlighted that labs are substandard, their equipment is not upgraded, there is lack of modernisation, there are issues relating to corruption, a staff crunch and a lack of proper training facilities.

Coherence and credibility

The requirement of product approval requirement for ‘proprietary products’ — launched in 2013 and a major area of grievance for the sector because of the long delays it caused — has now been scrapped by the FSSAI, after the recent Supreme Court order against it. While greater clarity is needed on the procedure that will now be followed, this brings India closer to the global practice where companies do not require approval from regulators to launch a product, while also paving the way for adopting the international practice of registration of food processing enterprises and setting up a random inspection system.

The present uncertainty should be expediently removed, while continuously streamlining food safety standards to make them more comprehensive, coherent and up-to-date to innovations in the industry.

The food industry must be given a reasonable time to adapt and the implementation should be regular, non-arbitrary and credible internationally. This is the path to achieving the twin objectives of food safety and development of the food processing industry.

The writer is the secretary-general of CUTS International. This article has inputs from Sonal Shukla

Categories: NEWS