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FSSAI to up enforcement activity in coming months; Recruitment underway

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FSSAI has reiterated that the enforcement activity will increase in the coming months. This is likely to happen given the fact that the apex food regulator of the country has already started the recruitment process for the induction of 850 officials in its fold.
The recruitment rules were finalised last year, and the process was started wherein close to 114 senior-level officers were to be inducted in first place.
In January 2019, FSSAI has issued a notification in this regard seeking online application for  direct recruitment and deputation for various posts at the regulator’s headquarters in New Delhi and regional offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Guwahati.
According to the sources, the apex regulator would be completing the procedure regarding the new recruitment in couple of months from now, and the focus shall be on the robust enforcement mechanism and to fill in the gaps that provide an escape for the errant FBOs.
Sources say that the FSSAI would increase its activity of enforcement, which shall be based on surveillance mostly.
The filling of posts is a part of the capacity building plan of the apex food regulator which has been going on side by side of a training programme, that was conducted wherein over one lakh persons got trained in food safety management skills.  
“Further, a part of the plan were the labs, which have been on radar of FSSAI for some time and there is already a plan for upgrading the lab infrastructure across the country,” sources said, adding, “There has been a sharp increase in this regard in the recent past.”

Categories: NEWS

FSSAI grants FBOs three months to keep edible oil consumption records

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FSSAI has given food business operators (FBOs) a three-month period to implement the direction to maintain records, if the consumption of edible oil for frying was more than 50 litre per day.
A decision was taken by the country’s apex food regulator after it reviewed the preparedness for implementation of the order wherein the authorities at the state level needed to put in place a mechanism for the collection of used cooking oil.
The earlier date was March 1, 2019, but FSSAI, in its recent order, said that the timeline for implementing the order was extended for three months, and the FBOs were given time till May 30, 2019 for compliance.
The regulator, in a statement, said that in order to provide time to ensure an adequate mechanism for the authorisation of agencies and the collection of used cooking oil, it has been decided to defer the implementation of the order by three months (i.e., till May 30, 2019).
“The order shall commence from June 1, 2019,” the new order said.
In January, FSSAI asked the FBOs to maintain records of edible oil used in their premises, if consumption exceeds over 50 litre per day. The regulator stated this was done to avoid the repeated use of cooking oil beyond the permissible limit and ensure food safety. Further, through this order, it sought the safe disposal of such used oil.
The FSSAI order stated that all FBOs whose consumption of edible oil for frying was more than 50 litre per day shall maintain a record and dispose of used cooking oil to the agencies authorised by FSSAI or the state food safety commissioners.
The repeated use of cooking oil produces harmful chemicals called total polar compounds (TPCs) which deform the chemical composition of the edible oil, thereby making it unsafe for cooking or frying.
“However, it has been noticed that in most of the cases, cooking oil is used repeatedly and even mixed with the new oil, which is not a safe practice,” said a senior FSSAI official.
The FBOs have to maintain records of the type of oil, the quantity taken for frying, the quantity discarded at the end of the day, the date and mode of disposal of used cooking oil, and the name of the agency which has collected the discard oil.
It has also been clearly stated in the order that the cooking oil having developed TPCs of over 25 per cent shall not be topped up with fresh oil. This order shall commence from March 1, and the state machinery has been asked to initiate enforcement in this regard.

Categories: NEWS

Nutrient contents and associated health benefits – A Codex perspective

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Introduction
Recently, FSSAI has introduced the Advertising and Claims Regulations and most of them are based on Codex Claim structure.
Giving message about the product is part of claim and today’s food marketing cannot be completed without being claimed. Claims are nothing but benefits warranted through a food product by the seller of the food article. There are many types of claims that are used by food manufacturers to garner attention of consumers like nutrition claims and health claims.
Nutrition claims talk about the nutrient contents of the food while health claims describe the associated health benefits. There are a number of international regulations and governing bodies that regulate the use of claims on foods. They are FOSHU (Japan), EU guidelines, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (USFDA), FSSAI claim guidelines and Codex. Since Codex is recognised as the global reference for international trade and resolution of disputes by the WTO, let us consider the Codex perspective on claims.    
Codex Guidelines and Claims
The Codex Alimentarius is a collection of internationally recognised standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations relating to foods, food production and food safety. Its texts are developed and maintained by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, established in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The implementation of Codex standards is voluntary and there is no obligation on the countries to adopt the same.
There are two guidelines in Codex that apply to the use of claims for foods namely the Codex general guidelines on claims and the Codex guidelines for the use of nutrition and health claims
The general guidelines on claims are based on the principle that food should not be described or presented in a false, misleading or deceptive manner. In the guidelines, claim is defined as any representation which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular characteristics relating to its origin, nutritional properties, nature, production, processing, composition or any other quality. The guidelines prohibit the use of following types of claims for foods:
1.    A claim suggesting that a particular food is an adequate source of essential nutrients except where such claims are permissible as per a Codex standard for well defined product or where the product has been accepted to be an adequate source of nutrients by the appropriate authorities
2.    A claim implying that a balanced diet or ordinary foods cannot be an adequate source of all nutrients
3.    A claim that cannot be substantiated
4.    A claim suggesting that a food can be used for the prevention, alleviation, treatment or cure of a disease or disorder unless they are in accordance with the Codex standards or guidelines for Foods for Special Dietary Uses or they are permissible under the laws of the country in which they are distributed
5.    A claim that could lead to doubts about the safety of similar foods or arouse fear in the mind of consumer
The guidelines also prohibit the use of potentially misleading claims. For the prevention of misleading through claims, the guidelines identify certain conditions/criteria for the use of various types of claims. Such claims are only permitted if the respective conditions attached as listed below are satisfied.

Type of claim / Claim title

Condition / criteria

A food has gained increased or special nutritive value by addition of nutrients

Such claim can be made provided the addition is made based on the nutritional considerations as per the respective Codex guidelines and it is subject to legislation by appropriate authorities

A food has special nutritional qualities by the reduction or omission of a nutrient

Such claim can be made if the reduction of nutrients is based on the nutritional considerations and is subject to legislation by appropriate authorities.

The use of terms such as “natural”, “pure”, “organically grown”, “fresh”, “home made” and “biologically grown”

Such terms can be used only if they are in accordance with the national practices in the country where the food is sold.

A food is a religious or ritual preparation ( Viz Halal Foods)

Such claim can be made provided the food complies with the requirements of the appropriate religious or ritual authorities

Claim that a food has special characteristics when all similar foods have the same characteristics

Such a claim can be made if the fact that all the similar foods also have the characteristics is apparent in the claim

A claim highlighting the non-addition or absence of a nutrient

Such claims must be regarded as nutrition claims and subject to mandatory nutrient declaration as per the Codex Guidelines For Nutrition Labelling

The second text i.e., the guidelines for the use of nutrition and health claims encompass the nutrition and health claims in food labelling and where required, in advertising. These guidelines are applicable to all foods bearing nutrition and health claims. As per these guidelines, unless specifically permitted in Codex standards or national legislation, nutrition and health claims cannot be made on infant foods and foods for young children.
In Codex, claims are broadly classified as nutrition claims and health claims. Nutrition claim is defined as any representation which states, suggests or implies that a food has particular nutritional properties including but not limited to the energy value and to the content of protein, fat and carbohydrates, as well as the content of vitamins and minerals. The declaration of substances in the ingredients’ list, the mention of nutrients as mandatory part of nutrition labelling or the declaration of nutrients or ingredients as per requirements of national legislation does not fall in the ambit of nutrition claims.
A nutrition claim can further be categorised into a nutrient content claim or a nutrient comparative claim
A nutrient content claim describes the level of a nutrient contained in a food. Claims like “source of calcium”, “no added sugar” and “free of trans fatty acids” are content claims. The guidelines provide for certain nutrient content claims along with specific conditions to be met for the claim to be employed. For a food, which is low in or free of the nutrient on which the claim is made, the term describing the level of the nutrient should not immediately precede the name of the food but should be in the form “a low (naming the nutrient) food” or “a (naming the nutrient)-free food”. Example – a salt with low sodium contents shall bear a claim saying “low sodium salt”.
The other type of nutrition claim is nutrient comparative claim. A nutrient comparative claim is a claim that compares the nutrient levels and/or energy value of two or more foods. Comparison can involve claims like “reduced”; “less than”; “fewer”; “more than”. Example – “This chewable tablet contains X% more chewable calcium than brand y.”
Comparative claims should be permitted based on the following criteria and considering further preparations required for consumption depending upon the form in which food is sold
The basic requirement of comparative claims is that the foods being compared should be different versions of the same food or similar foods and the foods being compared should be clearly identified. The food must bear on the label a statement of the amount of difference in the energy value or the nutrient content. The amount of difference related to the same quantity, expressed as a percentage, fraction or absolute value, the complete details of the comparison and the identity of the food(s) to which the food is being compared must be provided in close proximity to the comparative claim.
The comparison between the compared foods should be based on a relative difference of at least 25% in the energy value or nutrient content for macronutrients and at least 10% in case of micronutrients in the NRV and a minimum absolute difference in the energy value or nutrient content equivalent to the values specified for content claims like “low” or “a source” in the guidelines. The food label can bear the word “light” if the criteria for the word “reduced” are met and must indicate the characteristics, which make the food “light”.
The other category of claims in Codex is health claims. Health claim is defined as any representation that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food or a food constituent and health. Health claims must consist of two parts – the information on the physiological role (function) of nutrient or on an accepted diet-health relationship and that on the composition of the product relevant to the function unless the function is not linked to specific constituents of the food. Detailed principles have been developed in the guidelines to decide on the eligibility of a claim as a health claim. The claims fulfilling the set requirements are only permitted.
The health claims should be based on current relevant scientific substantiation and the proof available should be adequate for substantiating the claim. The claim should be accepted by competent authorities of the nation where the product is sold and the claimed effect should be derived from consuming a reasonable amount of the food/food constituent. In case of a claim attributed to a food constituent having a set Nutrient Reference Value, the concerned food shall be a source of / high in / low in / free of the constituent based on the recommended consumption with the conditions for such terms applicable. There should be a validated method of quantifying the food constituent that the claim is based on.
The guidelines emphasise on development of clear regulatory framework for qualifying / disqualifying conditions for the use of specific claims. The label of the foods bearing health claims must incorporate all the relevant information for consumers. The label must indicate the amount of nutrient or constituent of the food on which the claim is based along with the target group, if applicable. The proper directions for consumption to obtain the claimed benefit and caution advice for vulnerable groups, where applicable must be provided. The maximum safe intake of the food/constituent, how the food fits within the context of total diet and a statement on significance of maintaining a healthy diet must be displayed on the label.
Health claims can further be grouped into nutrient function claims, other function claims and reduction of disease risk claims
Nutrient function claim is a claim that describes the physiological role of the nutrient in growth, development and normal functions of the body. Example: “Contains folic acid which contributes to the normal growth of foetus. Food X is a source of/ high in folic acid.” As per the guidelines, this type of claim can only be made on those essential nutrients with established Nutrient Reference Values in the Codex or the officially recognised dietary guidelines of the concerned national authority.
Other function claims – These claims concern specific beneficial effects of the consumption of foods or their constituents, in the context of the total diet on normal functions or biological activities of the body. Such claims relate to a positive contribution to health or to the improvement of a function or to modifying or preserving health. Examples: “Vitamin C helps to enhance body’s natural defence system. Food Y contains x grams of vitamin C.”
Reduction of disease risk claims are claims relating the consumption of a food or food constituent, in the context of the total diet, to the reduced risk of developing a disease or health-related condition.
Risk reduction means significantly altering major risk factor(s) for a disease or health-related condition. Diseases have multiple risk factors and altering one of them may or may not have a beneficial effect. The presentation of risk reduction claims must ensure, for example, by use of appropriate language and reference to other risk factors, that consumers do not interpret them as prevention claims. Examples: “Adequate iron intake may reduce the risk of anaemia. Food X is enriched with iron.”
The guidelines also identify certain conditions for using claims related to dietary guidelines or healthy diets. The only claims permitted shall be the ones related to the pattern of eating contained in the dietary guidelines officially recognised by appropriate national authority. The words of the claim may be flexible as far as the pattern of eating outlined in the dietary guidelines is clearly conveyed. The foods described, as part of a healthy diet shall satisfy certain minimum criteria for other major nutrients related to the dietary guidelines and not just the selective considerations of certain aspects of the food. The foods should not be represented in a manner indicating that a food in itself will impart health. Lastly the foods may be described as part of a “healthy diet” provided that a statement connecting the food to the pattern of eating described in the guidelines is provided on the label. 
Conclusion
FSSAI has initiated the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018, and most of it is derived from Codex so it would be always good for scholars to understand the Codex document on claim. To conclude, nutrition labelling can be an effective means of enabling healthful food choices by consumers, although current evidence concerning the effect of health claims on diet and public health is insufficient. Regulations can contribute to influence their potential to promote health. Thus, developing regulations with long-term dietary improvements across populations, as their underlying goal will maximise this potential of nutrition labels and health claims.
(The writer is immediate past president, AFST India. He participated for four times in Codex meeting as part of Indian delegation. He can be contacted at prabodh1972@gmail.com)

Categories: NEWS

Formalin in fish: DC Dimapur calls committee meeting

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Dimapur, March 2 (MExN): The Deputy Commissioner and Chairperson DLSC, Dimapur, Kevekha Kevin Zehol has informed that the District Level Steering Committee (DLSC) constituted under Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 will have a meeting to discuss on the “menace of the use of formalin” in consumable items, at DC’s Conference Hall on March 4, 11:00 am. He has further informed that the Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Pangnyu Phom will address the gathering, a DIPR report informed.

Therefore, the following members have been requested to attend the meeting: The Chief Medical officer and member Secretary DLSC, The Commissioner of Police, Dimapur, The Administrator DMC, Dimapur, The Food Safety Officer, Dimapur, The SPO (FSSAI), FSO & Lab team Kohima, The District Agriculture Officer, Dimapur, The District Horticulture Officer, Dimapur, The Chief Veterinary Officer, Dimapur, The District Fishery Officer, Dimapur, The District Land Resources Officer, Dimapur, The Asst. Director Supply, Dimapur, The Project Director DRDA, Dimapur, The District Education Officer, Dimapur, The District Social Welfare Officer , Dimapur, The District Industry Officer, Dimapur, The Medical Superintendent, Civil Hospital, Dimapur, and the DPRO, Dimapur.

Categories: NEWS

Street food stalls at Girgaum, Juhu beach get FDA clean tags

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MUMBAI: Love street food but worried about hygiene? Worry no more if you are at Juhu and Girgaum Chowpatty, says the state’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as fast food stalls on the two beaches have got a ‘Clean street food hub’ tag. After Ahmedabad’s Kankaria Lake area, Mumbai is the second city in India to bag the certification from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

The FSSAI granted the tag to the stalls at these popular beaches last week after they cleared the final round of audits. Around 80 stalls in Juhu and 30 at Girgaum Chowpatty that offer pani puri, pav bhaji, sodas and gola were overseen by the FDA while effecting process changes over the last six months. “The tag is a seal of assurance that the food has been cooked in clean condition, following standard hygiene practices, and is absolutely safe to eat,” said Pallavi Darade, commissioner, FDA. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis will unveil the Girgaum hub of these clean food stalls on Tuesday.

FDA’s joint commissioner Shailesh Adhao said that the vendors were taught and trained about hygiene practices, starting from cooking in clean water, wearing caps, aprons and gloves, ensuring personal hygiene and appropriate garbage disposal, demarcating cooking and non-cooking area, and pest control. “The FDA also helped them refurbish their stalls, light them up properly and select raw material,” said the commissioner. The owners had to get medical fitness certificates for their staffers, which is one of the key requirements of the Food Safety Act. Adhao said stall owners have been taught about the Act and penalties that any violation could attract. They will be audited by the FDA every three months.

FDA’s next step is to push more street food vendors to get the certification from FSSAI that started the initiative across country last year under Project Clean Street Food. Darade said corporates too have chipped in to provide potable water by installing purifiers.

Categories: NEWS

Wardha FDA withdraws Satara infant food for violations

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Nagpur: The Wardha unit of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has withdrawn the entire material of an infant food product with brand name ‘Healthy Magic Brand’ for various violations of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSA) Act. The manufacturer, M/S Anupreet Product from Karad in Satara district, has been producing the product even without the basic permission of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

Food safety officer Raviraj Dhabarde, who is the investigation officer, told TOI that the product is wrongly branded. Infant foods are to be given to children above the age of six months but this brand is being sold for children below four months of age. The infant food is available in two brands — Real mix vegetable-Infant Food-Anupreet Healthy Magic Brand and real Mix Fruits again with same brand name.

Dhabarde said that the samples have been sent to adjudication officer SR Kekare, the FDA joint commissioner at Nagpur. If violation is established, the manufacturer will be liable for at least a Rs10 lakh fine. The raid was carried out under the guidance of GB Gore, the FDA additional commissioner (food) at Wardha.

As per the FSSAI regulation, the product should not carry the picture of a mother or a child whereas this product carries a photo of children.

There are also irregularities in packaging and labelling, said Dhabarde. He said that it was mandatory for the manufacturer to mention that ‘mothers milk best for your baby’, which is missing from the label. The packet should also carry a warning that the food should be used only on the advice of a health worker. It should also carry a warning that infant food is a milk substitute or it is not the sole source of nourishment for an infant.

There should also be a statement on the process of manufacture (eg spray dried) except in case of infant foods where it is replaced by warnings about the health hazards associated with improper hygiene while preparing the food for the baby. It should carry warnings like use of clean utensils, bottles and teats.

It should also say that not to use fewer scoops as it would dilute the required concentration of the food and not provide sufficient nutrients required by the baby’s body. The pack should also carry directions of use and instructions for the discarded or the leftover feed. The pack should never mention words like ‘energy food’ full protein food, complete food, health food etc.

Categories: NEWS

Stale food new threat in online food delivery

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Kochi: The spurt in demand for online food delivery among the residents of Kochi has brought to the fore a threat of stale food being given to customers.

The food safety department said that since January they have been getting complaints of stale food being delivered to customers. “We receive at least one complaint every week over the phone,” said food safety vigilance squad official Sakkir Hussain.

Last month, a customer from Kakkanad complained that he had to seek medical help after having a food item that was delivered online.

However, officials said it is difficult to initiate action against erring hoteliers. “The problem we face is that the food is not served as packaged products where manufacturing and expiry dates, content details, price and address of the manufacturing company are a must. These details are not available on food packets purchased online. If we register a case on the basis of stale food served online, it cannot be proved in the court. We can prove it only when the customer gets hospitalized and the doctor advises medication for food poisoning,” said Hussain.

“The life of cooked food is two hours. Hoteliers themselves say they can’t ensure the quality of the food that they cooked much earlier in the day. In some complaints, we found that there is a delay in food delivered to customers due to slew of factors, including traffic,” the official said.

Meanwhile, officials said some customers are also misusing the opportunity to threaten the hoteliers citing small issues in the food. “Some customers threaten hoteliers saying they will publish news on the issue on social media. Scared over dent on the image of the hotel, hoteliers have been forced either to cut down the price or to provide food for free. Later both parties keep this issue out of public domain,” the official said.

Kerala hotel and restaurants’association (KHRA) officials admit that hotels have been forced to compromise on the quality of food when it is delivered online at a cheap rate. “There is no mechanism available to check the quality of food delivered online. Some kinds of food such as mayonnaise and Arabic food items get sour fast. We don’t know from where the delivery boys buy the food. Besides, ordering food online also generate huge plastic waste, which endanger the nature. The online food delivery system needs intervention of the state government. The government should bring in a mechanism to control a system where no one is responsible for delivering stale or unhygienic food,” said KHRA general secretary G Jayapal.

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FSDA starts drive against adulterated food ahead of Holi

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Meerut: Ahead of Holi, the Food Safety and Drugs Authority (FSDA) started their drive against adulterated food items on Monday. The drive, which will focus on adulterated food items and will continue till March 19, will for the first time see transportation of samples to Lucknow on the same day so that reports can arrive within four days. Earlier, reports took one to three months to arrive and, hence, action was delayed. The food items on which special attention will be paid include oil, ghee, besan, chips, papad, khoya, sweets and others.

“We have identified places in the city where inspections will be carried out and suspected items will be seized or their samples taken – depending on how suspected the items in question look like. For the first time, the samples collected will be sent to the Lucknow testing laboratory that day itself and will be delivered there by an official. This is being done so that the reports, which otherwise took one month to three months to arrive, can come within four days,” said Archana Dheeran designated officer of FSDA (Meerut).

The areas identified include Khiwai, Sardhana, Naglakhumba, Jainpur, Mawana and others. These areas have been identified as major manufacturers are based here – from where the city shops purchase items which they sell further. Special care will be taken for addition of colour to food items.

“Meanwhile, we are conducting surveys and awareness drives to inform shop owners that if they sell any suspected items, a case will be filed against them and they will be dealt according to the law,” Dheeran said.

Categories: NEWS

650 food adulteration cases in Pb in 3 months

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Chandigarh: The food-safety wing of the health department kept its guard up against unscrupulous food businesses even after the festival season was over this time. As part of the state government’s Mission Tandrust Punjab, the commisionerate of food and drug administration carried out 3,000 inspections of food items in between November 1, 2018, and January 31, 2019.

The department registered 650 cases of food adulteration. In all, the commissionerate fined 600 food business operators, with the total penalty amounting to Rs 65 lakh. It organised 270 awareness camps to raise awareness against food adulteration. The two food-safety vans of the department checked 2,400 samples of food items. When it comes to seizures, milk and dairy products were found to be the most adulterated. The department seized 2,700kg of milk and dairy products. It also seized 315kg of sub-standard fruits.

Punjab food and drug commissioner K S Pannu, also the mission director of Tandrust Punjab, warned of stricter action against those still indulging in adulterating food items. He said raids will continue and the department will request courts to impose heavy fines on those found guilty.

Categories: NEWS