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Extension of last date for sending Comments / suggestions on Artificial Ripening of Fruits. (Uploaded on: 04.04.2018)

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Categories: NEWS

FSSAI drafts new standards and regulations under oils and fats category

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Subhashri Iyer, Mumbai

FSSAI has revised the existing standards for oils and fats and added new standards harmonised with those of Codex. In this regard, the apex regulator has issued a draft notification detailing the new standards and regulations for the oils and fats category.
The country’s apex food regulator has asked the stakeholders for suggestions and comments within 30 days from the date of issue (March 15, 2018). The draft standards shall be reviewed based on the comments received from stakeholders and revised if required.
New standards have been issued for palm stearin, palm kernel olein, palm kernel stearin, superolien, avocado oil and inclusion peroxide value in the standards of all vegetable oils. The existing standards of kachi ghani mustard oil and palm oil (with regard to melting point) and vanaspati have also been revised.

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Categories: NEWS

More work required to be done regarding implementation of regulations

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Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi, Shraddha Joshi,Mumbai

Over the last two years, FSSAI has intensified the efforts to put systems in place as required under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, but experts have opined that when it comes to the implementation of the regulations and their compliance, the challenges are serious, and more work needs to be done.
The country’s apex food regulator has stated that the regulatory work related to standards will be completed within the next six months, and the regulations will be put in place in a year’s time.
Supreme Court of India advocate Charu Mathur stated that the regulator had been dormant for over a decade, since the Act came into being, adding it got a new lease of life due to the Nestle Maggi controversy.
“Like most other things, the government’s focus on the food law is twofold: digital footprints and the one nation, one food safety law,” she added.
Mathur stated that there was a huge problem regarding the implementation of food safety laws. “On paper, our laws are fantastic. They are almost ideal, perfect laws,” she added.
“However, in practice they are a far-fetched dream. A simple registration by a small food business operator (FBO) is a challenge,” she added.
“Ever-changing food standards are difficult to maintain and follow. It is a great idea to follow international standards, but you must keep your ears to the ground. You have to take care of ground realities, socio-economic conditions and even weather conditions,” Mathur said.
Ajit Lagoo, vice-president, business development, Envirocare Labs Pvt Ltd, said that for novel products/new formulations, new ingredients, it was still a difficult ball game in India under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
“One way, it is killing innovations in the food industry. Also, in a few cases, there are disparities in standards. For instance, a sweetener or colour will mostly behave identically for humans irrespective of the (finished) food it is a part of,” he added.
Deepti Ahuja, senior partner and vice-president, global sales, business advisory, indirect tax and transfer pricing, SKP Business Consulting LLP, said that the framework for standards/certification will need to evolve as and when the industry evolves. Additionally, policies will also need to be in line with innovations.
“Ideally, FSSAI should work in a phased manner. This will help us in multiple ways. Not only will it avoid any confrontational issues with respect to the changes, it will aid ease in execution. The learnings which accrue in the initial phases can be absorbed in the latter phases, thereby ensuring a framework with minimum loopholes,” she said.
However, Ashwin Bhadri, chief executive officer, Equinox Labs, said, “These regulations are the cause of a paradigm shift in the food industry, and those revolutions that are yet to happen.”
“We never thought milk and dairy could ever be adulterated with anything apart from water. But the amount and number of chemicals present in it will shock us. FSSAI has now standardised the testing procedures for milk and dairy products for the pollutants’ identification,” he added.
“Likewise, the analysis of total polar compounds (TPCs) to estimate the reused oil, organic products’ logo and segregation of food depending upon fortification are like drops in the ocean,” Bhadri said.
“While, regulations will be open – the notifications and the amendments will have to be changed or improvised as and when there arises the need for it. New products will have to be added as per their use, some categories will have to be dissolved or made, etc.,” he added.
“The stringency has to be maintained, or even increased to maintain the level of safety. However, the understanding should be from the government body, the food businesses and the consumers for their effective management,” Bhadri said.
On challenges, the experts felt that identification might be simple, but making them a reality is difficult. Several stakeholders are involved in this – a sudden change can hamper not just the operations, but also finances.
Bhadri said, “For instance, fortified edible oil have to be labelled. It is important for the consumers, since they can make informed purchases. But that isn’t possible unless the pre-made packaging units are over. This means that to bring an order into use, a minimum time frame of six months is needed.”
The other aspect is the comments and feedback from the stakeholders, highlighting their hurdles in adopting a new regulation and several FBOs look forward to and already do comply with the safety standards.
“However, awareness and reach of each of the FSSAI regulations, standard or a mere change is the major difficulty. This is a case in majority of small and local food businesses. With time these numbers are bound to increase,” he said.
To this, Mathur stated that FSSAI must work systematically to ease compliance and maintain safety standards. Its standards must be simple and unambiguous. It should not merely rush to come out with hundreds of standards.
“FSSAI is yet to work on labelling regulations. It is yet to tackle food rejection by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). India is amongst the top three countries whose food is rejected by agency of US FDA,” she added.
“FSSAI needs to sort out this issue. Another issue that FSSAI must look into keeping climatic conditions in place, is that of cold storage chain. There is almost no check on how frozen stuff is treated,” Mathur said.
“It is often seen that shop owners, FBO turn off freezers in night and there by compromising on quality of goods. Many a times, cartons of frozen products keep on lying on shop floors for hours,” she added.
“There is no check on such things. FSSAI is also required to strictly monitor quality control measures in non-vegetarian food products,” Mathur said.
Lagoo suggested, “There are different level of challenges, absence of rationality is biggest in my opinion. We shouldn’t be copying standards from other country, for a processed food or even a raw material.”
“So, we need more and more competent people from different disciplines, who have seen industry and are consumers at times. So, to turn our rules more practical, these are the set of people, who can help,” he added.

Categories: NEWS

FDA Maharashtra directs use of blue colour in making of industrial ice

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Shraddha Joshi, Mumbai

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Maharashtra has directed the businesses involved in the manufacturing of industrial ice to use blue colour to differentiate it from the edible ice.
Taking into consideration that 70 per cent of the edible ice used by the food vendors is contaminated, FDA has taken this decision, and a proposal in this regard has been approved by the state government.
A senior official from FDA said, “We had sent a proposal to the government, and they seem positive about it. Finally, we have got the nod from the government, and we will implement it across the state.”
Maharashtra is the first state to do so. And in this regard, a meeting with the stakeholders has already taken place.
The official said, “A meeting was held with various stakeholders related to the manufacturing of industrial ice, and it was decided to make the use of blue colour for industrial purposes, whereas edible ice should look crystal clear.”
“We have directed all the manufacturers of industrial ice not to use any other colour but Indigo Carmine or Brilliant Blue FCF [as per regulation 3.1.2(4) of the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011] till it gets the minimum colour and upto 10 parts per million (ppm). Thus, those using contaminated ice will now be easily identifiable. The necessary action will be taken depending upon the offence,” he added.
As per the regulations, edible ice is considered as food under the Act. However, it has come to the notice that both the edible as well as non-edible ice are made from the same water, which sometimes is contaminated and harmful for human health.
Roadside vendors buy the ice from manufacturers of industrial ice at lower prices and use it in beverages.
With this move by FDA Maharashtra, consumers will be able to find out the kind of ice that has been added to their beverages. Industrial ice is used for preservation of dead bodies, and in medicines and cement factories, amongst others.
“The ice used for consumption should be made from safe and potable water. However, in case of ice for industrial purposes, the source of the water could be anything,” the official stated.

Categories: NEWS

FSSAI notifies draft regulations pertaining to claims, adverts by FBOs

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Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi

FSSAI has notified the draft regulations pertaining to claims and advertisements by food business operators (FBOs) in respect of their food products. They state that advertisements in respect of a food product that either undermines the importance of healthy lifestyles, or portrays the food product as a complete replacement for a normal meal, are not permitted.
Further, food businesses have also been prohibited from advertising or making claims undermining the products of other manufacturers, so as to promote their own food products or influence consumer behaviour. 
“Any person, including a third party, who advertises or is a party to the publication of any misleading advertisement not complying with these regulations, would be penalised with a fine extending upto Rs 10 lakh under Section 53 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006,” stated the regulations.
The country’s apex food regulator has invited suggestions and objections from stakeholders within 30 days from the publication of the draft regulations. These regulations, after consideration of stakeholder comments and finalisation, will come into force on the date of their final publication in the Gazette on India.      
In a statement, it has said this had been done to protect consumer interests, as many claims, listed in various schedules of these regulations with related criteria, are permitted to be made by FBOs without the need to seek prior approval from FSSAI.
“FSSAI added that the claims must be truthful, unambiguous, meaningful, not misleading and help consumers to comprehend the information provided,” stated the regulations, adding, “However, other types of claims not standardised under these regulations may require approval from the Food Authority and should be supported with sound scientific basis.”
These regulations have sections detailing the definitions, the general principles for claims and advertisements, the criteria for nutrition claims (including nutrient content or nutrient comparative claims), non-addition claims (including non-addition of sugars and sodium salts), health claims (reduction of disease risks), claims related to dietary guidelines or healthy diets, and conditional claims; claims that are specifically prohibited and procedures for approval of claims and redressal of non-compliance under these regulations. 
In respect of nutrients or components, the claims may refer to a nutrient such as energy, fat, cholesterol, saturated fat, trans-fat, sugar, or sodium salt being low or absent, and unsaturated fat being high in a food; a food being a source of or high in respect of nutrients like dietary fibre, protein, vitamins or minerals; a food being low in glycaemic index (indicative of increase in blood sugar level after the food intake), etc.
The FSSAI’s statement said, “Likewise, the regulations list nutrient/food health relationship and standardised statements for health claims (reduction of disease risk). For instance, a food low in sodium may have a label claim as diets low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure; a disease associated with many factors. Such claim statements have been specified for several nutrients with health impacts and include calcium, Vitamin D, dietary saturated fat, cholesterol, potassium, soluble dietary fibre, plant sterols/stanols, vitamins, minerals, etc. The conditions and standardised claim statements specified in these regulations are based on available scientific information and international best practices.”
As per these regulations, food business cannot use such words/phrases as natural, fresh, original, traditional, premium, finest, best, authentic, genuine, real, etc. on the food labels except under specific conditions detailed therein. Foods can be claimed to be fresh only if they are not processed in any manner except washed, peeled, chilled, trimmed or cut or have undergone other processing necessary to make the product safe without altering its basic characteristics in any manner.
An official with the FSSAI said, “Such restrictions are primarily aimed at restricting an open-ended use of these words/phrases by food businesses on frivolous grounds.” However, experts have opined that all was not well with the regulations, and there was ample scope of reconsideration on several subjects.
Supreme Court advocate and food law expert Charu Mathur stated that although FSSAI‘s claim and advertisement guidelines were a laudable effort, there was scope for improvement.
“F&B companies are here for business. It is understandable that public health is not their number one priority, but maintaining quality of their products may be. To enhance their market share, F&B companies routinely indulge in suggestive advertisements, and gullible consumers fall for it,” she added.
“These regulations allows a product to claim health or nutrition benefits based on one attribute, even if the product is bad on other nutrients or attributes. For example, the advertisement is product meets 100 per cent dietary fibre requirement, which will the lower risk of, say, heart disease, but fails to inform that it is a high-sugar product,” Mathur said.
“This reductionist approach is more harmful. It is a misleading advertisement. This is an existing problem, but the new regulation does not address this aspect,” she added.
Mathur stated that FBOs need to give a complete picture of the product and not be misleading. “It may not be an outright fraud, but it will certainly be misleading. The food safety officer (FSO) needs to be proactive on such aspects,” she added.
Another ambiguity in the regulations is that they make provisions to exhibit quantitative limits on nutrients, but fail to inform the consumer how much recommended daily upper limit is being served.
“They are not in complete compliance with the Codex Guidelines for Nutrition and Health Claims, as they fail to establish the criteria for a balanced diet that defines a minimum/maximum amount of all nutrients,” she said, adding that labelling requirements should be stringent.
The label shows the product to be low in salt or sugar, but nowhere does it say that it is high in salt or trans-fats.
Moreover, the regulations were silent on celebrity advertisement. There should be high accountability of celebrity advertisements as F&B directly affect health.

Categories: NEWS

Health dept team collects samples from food stalls near bus stand

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Ludhiana: Following complaints of adulteration and change in weather conditions, the district health department team carried out extensive checking and sampling of food items in stalls near the city bus stand here on Monday, and issued strict guidelines to different vendors and food stall owners to follow the food safety norms effectively. The health team had also issued notices to some food stalls after watching the unhygienic conditions in their premises.

As per information provided by district food safety officer Yogesh Goyal — under the supervision of district health officer Andesh Kang — eight to nine food vendors based near the city bus stand had been checked thoroughly during the food checking and sampling drive on Monday afternoon. As many as 16 to 17 food samples were collected by health officials, including pizza, bread pakoda, green sauce, ice-cream, cream roll, popcorn, and apple juice.

Apart from the bus stand area, the health team also carried out a checking drive on Gill Road, taking samples from flour production and dairy production firms, and issued notices as per the rules of the health department. After collecting samples from different food vendors, the team sent them to the state food laboratory for testing. When the reports come out, the health team will take action, charging heavy penalties on all culprits.

Categories: NEWS

Dirty money is quite literally making you sick

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • FSSAI observed that eateries and vendors should exercise precautions.
  • Children, pregnant mothers, the elderly and immunity-compromised people are more vulnerable to such infections.
  • Agency has directed all state food commissioners to create a systematic campaign for generating awareness among all citizens.

Dangerous diseases are cashing in on your filthy banknotes and coins, the countrys apex food regulator has pointed out.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) has directed all state food commissioners to create a systematic campaign for generating awareness among all citizens to discourage the simultaneous handling of food and currency notes and coins.

The agency has also observed that eateries and vendors should exercise precautions while collecting cash and handing out food.

Handling of currency with unclean and soiled hands, use of saliva during counting and storage under unhygienic conditions leads to its contamination with harmful microorganisms, mentioned the FSSAIs advisory.

The agency has said cross-contamination from currency is a risk to human health, leading to many conditions such as food poisoning as well as skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases.

Children, pregnant mothers, the elderly and immunity-compromised people are more vulnerable to such infections. Food vendors, particularly those selling their wares on the streets, often prepare and serve food and collect money from patrons with the same hand.

Currency notes and coins are widely circulated everyday by public and these are source of microbiological contamination. This we were examining for a long time, but we cannot punish anyone. Therefore, we have directed all the state food commissioners to launch a strong awareness campaign on hygienically handling of currency notes and coins and this we have to start at a very basic level, Pawan Agarwal, CEO of FSSAI, told Mail Today.

Ideally, handling of food and money should be physically separated. After handling currency, hands should be thoroughly washed before touching food and vice-versa.

Three scientific studies published in the Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences, International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences, and the International Journal of Advanced Research have highlighted that the presence of drugresistant pathogens on currency is the transmitter of a number of diseases in the community, including urinary and respiratory tract infections, septicaemia, skin infections, recurrent meningitis, toxic shock syndrome and a variety of gastro-intestinal diseases.

These studies were done in 2016. A study carried out by the department of microbiology of Tirunelveli Medical College in Tamil Nadu stated that the currency notes were contaminated with disease-causing pathogens such as Klebsiella pneumoniae, E coli and Staphylococcus aureus, i.e. pathogen that are present in excreta.

These currency notes were collected from a variety of sources including doctors, banks, local markets, butchers, students and housewives.

The studies prompted the food regulator to issue advisory. It mentioned that it is needed to ensure that hotels, hospitals, school and office canteens, restaurants, street food stalls, shops selling bakery products, sweets, and even those preparing food for mid-day meals and religious places, do not contaminate food with currency either at the time of preparation or at the time of sale or distribution.

Speaking to Mail Today, Dr SP Byotra, chairman of the internal medicine department at Delhis Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, It is a welcome initiative taken by the FSSAI to make people aware of the unhygienic transaction of currency notes and coins by hand. These are the biggest source of germs such as bacteria, fungi and parasites which can make us all sick. If we do a culture of currency notes, we can find harmful and life-threatening bacteria. For example, if a tuberculosis (TB) patient is keeping currency notes and coins in his pocket, with his sweat, the infection can be transferred to the currency and later this infection can pass onto the other person handling the notes.

"These microorganisms can cause us typhoid, lung diseases,gastrointestinal complications, etc," added Dr Byotra. Experts have pointed that currency notes should be handled and counted in a similar way like bank officials do.

It has been observed that bank tellers keep a sponge damper pad to count notes. The regulator has advised that food handlers, food sellers and others should avoid handling currency and food simultaneously. It has recommended that gloves be used to handle food, and bare and clean hands be used to handle currency.

Categories: NEWS

Chinese Pudi replaces carbide in fruit market

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Officials find six to eight sachets in each of the mango cartons

Ethylene-producing chemical sachets imported from China have replaced calcium carbide for artificial ripening of mangoes at Gaddiannaram Agricultural Market Yard at Kothapet, popularly known as Kothapet fruit market.

The ethylene ripeners available in powder form too are forbidden under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011.

The state food safety officials, who visited the market on Tuesday, found many boxes containing the imported chemical sachets. Six to eight sachets were recovered from each of the cartons containing raw mangoes ready to be transported.

Following the High Court’s direction for strict implementation of the ban on Carbide, the State government increased enforcement, which led to commission agents and traders shifting to the Chinese Pudi as it is locally known.

Each sachet costs ₹4, as against ₹2 spent on the carbide sachet, and once inside a box of mangoes, it releases ethylene gas through small holes that are punched into it. However, the ingredients and their quantities are not mentioned on the product packages.

The Director, Institute of Preventive Medicine Public Health Labs & Food (Health) Administration, Telangana, K. Shankar, who led a team of scientists from the State Food Laboratory, Nacharam, said the samples collected from four locations inside the market would be sent to the lab for analysis, and if the use of carbide is found, the sellers would be punished.

T. Lakshmaiah, Deputy Food Controller from the State Food Lab, said carbide is banned as it releases acetylene gas which is carcinogenic and harmful for human consumption. Even ethylene is permitted only in its gaseous form in limited doses (up to 100 parts per million), and not in its powder form.

Lakshminaryana Reddy, senior scientist, said the ethylene-releasing chemical, namely ethephon, is used for faster fruition in plants and its residue should not be more than two parts per million on the fruits.

Traders and commission agents, who are unhappy over the restrictions on artificial ripening, demanded that the government find a solution instead of citing rules.

“The ripening chambers in the market are insufficient for the loads arriving here every day. Truckloads of mangoes arrive and leave on the same day to places far off, such as Delhi. How can we be expected to hold them here so long for ripening? We will shut down the business and go home if the government wants that,” fumed Mohammed Abid, a trader.

He also questioned why the chemical sachets from China were not stopped during the customs check in Mumbai, if they were harmful.

Categories: NEWS

Chocolate production may be harming environs

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Categories: NEWS