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Health ministry starts process for amendment to FSS Rules; MoFPI has no say

12,September, 2015
The government has decided to review the rules and regulations governing Indian food industry. The review is being done on two fronts, FSS Rules and Regulations 2011 by ministry of health and Product Approval regulation by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Health ministry, in its notice dated September 3, 2015, states that it has invited comments-views-suggestions, if any, for a review of FSS Rules that may be forwarded to the under secretary (food), department of health and family welfare, on or before September 24, 2015, while the apex food regulator has invited law firms to help in framing guidelines for Product Approval to bring necessary regulation in place of Product Approval advisory quashed by the Bombay High Court in its order.

The food industry is waiting with bated breath, as what will be formulated by the two agencies to govern them.

The review of FSS Rules, 2011, deals largely with the enforcement issues and it is a welcome step, said N M Kejriwal, chairman, PHD Chambers’ Committee on Agribusiness. He however adds that the government had identified only few points to amend the rules while it needs to do much more to review the Act in totality.

He further pointed out that the industry would like to see what came out with regards to rules for Product Approval and to what extent it might help them. He also raised a point that the industry expected the report by the Task Force on Product Approval to be made a public document.

Meanwhile, ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI) appears to be caught in the row sans an impact. Industry experts state that in spite of the key role the ministry plays for the industry, in this case, it appears helpless with regard to influencing policy making.

Such is the perception in the industry that MoFPI, although vocal about the concerns faced by the food industry, is not really able to help the industry much.

The Indian food industry is virtually on its own, says another industry representative.

However, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union minister for food processing industries, was able to push for a Task Force for a better coordination between the two ministries – health and food processing. It was the result of a direct intervention by PMO on an appeal made by Badal.

But similar was the case last year when despite PMO level intervention, the FSSAI stood firm on not giving NOC to the Product Approval applications for proprietary food.

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