FSSAI worked quietly for years till Maggi noodles happened
It has been nearly 10 years since the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) came into being, but it largely worked behind the scenes till it came into public focus only last year over the lead and monosodium glutamate content in Maggi noodles.
The authority came into being following the passage of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
It has since registered over 38 lakh food businesses. It tests food samples through 184 notified primary testing labs and 14 referral labs and also decides on food labels and claims.
Officials said FSSAI sought to make people aware about food adulteration, which alone claims the lives of 2.2 million people across the globe every year.
"The FSSAI has made positive contribution to the Indian food industry. Initially, people were less aware about food safety, but now many of them will not buy a food product if does not have a mention of FSSAI," Bimal Dubey, Director (Regulatory Compliance/Vigilance), FSSAI, told IANS.
The FSSAI has been entrusted with the task of laying down scientific 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.
Food Ministry officials said the food safety and standards law was enacted to create a single statutory body for food laws, standards and enforcement so that there is no confusion in the minds of consumers, traders, manufacturers and investors.
Officials said FSSAI’s responsibilities also include training and certifying food safety supervisors and food handlers, ensure safety of food imported at 142 points across the country, as well as promote safe food management practices in processing, transportation, storage and distribution.
It is also mandated to enhance consumer choice and building consumer engagement through effective complaints redress mechanism.
At a function organised by FSSAI here on Monday to commemorate 10 years of the enactment of the Food Safety and Standards Act, Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda advised FSSAI to be aware of the concerns of small food businesses.
He noted that during the past 10 years, considerable work had been done in laying down scientific standards and regulating manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import of food items.
After the controversy over the lead and MSG content of Maggi noodles erupted last year, the FSSAI had ordered its manufacturer Nestle to "withdraw and recall" all Maggi noodle variants, halt their production and also stop exports, saying the samples were found to be "unsafe and hazardous" for humans.
Nestle then announced the withdrawal of Maggi across India but maintained that the product was "safe".
Later, the Bombay High Court lifted the ban on Maggi noodles and ordered fresh tests on the samples. The noodles subsequently made a re-entry in the Indian market.