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The Implementation of the

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					        The effective
  Implementation of the
Food Safety and Standards
 Act-2006 a real challenge
   for the Govt. of India
                By

             Alok Dangwal
          CEO, Chaukhamba
     alokdangwal@chaukhamba.org




             New Delhi
               India
       ( www.chaukhamba.org)
Preface
The Food Safety and Standards Bill 2005 was recently signed into law by the
President of India. The original Bill was piloted and introduced in Lok Sabha
by the Ministry of Food Processing Industry during the monsoon session in
year 2005. The speaker of Lok Sabha referred the Bill to the Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Agriculture for its report and deliberation, the Standing
Committee submitted its report in Lok Sabha on February 2006. The
Parliament passed the Bill in the Monsoon Session of 2006 and the Bill became
an Act after Presidential assent to it on August 23, 2006. As the Food safety
and Standards Act 2006 remains mum on its implementation so it has not been
decided till this paper is written that who will govern the new Act. Recently the
Prime Minister‟s Office has appointed the Ministry of Health as the nodal
Ministry for implementing the Act. The PMO was under pressure as the
Mashelker Committee and the Parliamentary Standing Committee both
recommended for the Ministry of Health as the nodal Ministry for its
implementation. Once the Act is notified by the nodal agency, the Ministry of
Health will have to issue official notifications regarding the new rule so that all
those manufacturers who are currently manufacturing these products under
food licenses under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, will be able to
apply for fresh licenses under the new rule while the companies are not
required      to    revoke     their    current    license   under    the     Act.

The Act envisages formation of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of
India which will be an apex body responsible for laying down the new rules
and regulations for Food sector. As per our internal sources the Authority
would come into force by the end of the year 2007. The Act no doubt ensures
better consumer health and safety but its effective implementation would be a
Herculean task for the central ministry as the existing machinery lacks in
quality manpower and infrastructures.
Executive Summery
Background
In India at present there are seventeen different Acts and Rules under Centre
and State Governments which are dealing wholly or partially with “Food” as a
subject and are responsible for Standards and Regulations settings and
enforcement. Multiplicity of these food laws and standard setting and
enforcement agencies pervades different sectors of food have created confusion
in the minds of traders, investors and manufacturers. Provisions regarding
admissibility and levels of food additives and contaminants, food colours,
preservatives etc. and the requirements of labeling have varied standards under
these laws. Industry finds these standards often rigid and non-responsive to
scientific advancements and enforced by multiplicity of inspectors under
various laws. Due to all these various reasons a need was felt for integration of
all such laws for giving a boost to the food processing industries and regulating
the quality of food. The matter regarding consolidation of the food laws was
considered by the Government on various occasions. The Committees which
recommended for a unifying and comprehensive legislation on food were:-

(i) Prime Minister‟s Council on Trade and Industry in 1998;
(ii) Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on Pesticides residues in 2004
(iii) Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in their report on
Demands for Grants of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries in 2005‟
   th          th
(12 Report, 14 Lok Sabha)
(iv) The Law Commission recommended interalia that the Prevention of Food
Adulteration Act, 1954 be repealed and orders under the Essential
Commodities Act, 1955 be subsumed within the proposed Integrated Food Law
with certain modifications.

On the recommendation of the PM‟s Council on Trade and Industry the
Government of India decide to formulate an Integrated Food Law (IFL) the
task of drafting the IFL was given the Ministry of Food Processing
Industries(MFPI) in the year 2001. The Government of India also constituted a
Group of Ministers(GOM) to propose legislative and other changes considered
necessary for finalizing the proposed Integrated Food Law. On the advice of
GOM the Draft Food safety and Standards Bill 2005 was first time made public
by the MFPI. The Cabinet at its meeting held on 04.08.2005 considered the
proposal to enact “Food Safety and Standards Bill, 2005” and approved the
same. Accordingly the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 25.08.2005.
The Hon‟ble Speaker of Lok Sabha referred the Bill to the departmentally
related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture on august 30, 2005.
The Standing Committee submitted its report in the Parliament on February 21,
2006 and proposed 52 Amendments in the original Bill. Lok Sabha discussed
the Bill and passed the Bill with 46 Amendments made recommended by the
Standing Committee on July 26, 2006. The Hon‟ble President of India put his
signature on the Bill on August 23, 2006 and made it an Act after the Bill was
passed by both the Houses of Parliament on August 23, 2006.

Out of the 17 different laws dealing with “Food” the following 8 laws will
stand repeal the day when the Act is Notified by the Nodal Ministry in the
official Gazette of India, there are,
1. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (37 of 1954).
2. The Fruit Products Order, 1955.
3. The Meat Food Products Order, 1973.
4. The Vegetable Oil Products (control) Order, 1947.
5. The Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1998.
6. The Solvent Extracted Oil, De oiled Meal, and Edible Flour (Control) Order,
1967.
7. The Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992.
8. Any other order issued under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (10 of
1955) relating to food.

The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 ( FSS Act-2006) has 12 chapters
containing 101 clauses briefly and 2 Schedules.

The Prime Minister‟s Council on trade and industry appointed a group in 1998,
which had recommended one comprehensive law in India on food safety and
standards to protect the rights of the consumers especially the poor and the
disadvantaged and the FSS Act-2006 is the outcome of that recommendation.
The Ministry of Food Processing Industries, which primarily appears mandated
to develop and promote food-processing industries in the country, was assigned
to formulate the Draft Bill. Ministry of Health, which is the custodian of health
of citizens and has been overseeing food safety, could have given the
responsibility of piloting the Bill. The consumers Organizations were surprised
to see the Ministry of Food Processing Industries preparing the draft legislation.
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 is presently the main food law
which is under the Concurrent list of the constitution of India. The
implementation of the PFA Act requires preferred expertise in medical,
toxicology, nutrition food related illness, microbiology and test labs etc., which
are concentrated in health, related institutions under State Govts. Over last
decades the District Chief Medical Officers have been functioning as Local
Health Authorities. The Central Ministry of Health oversees the
implementation of this law and has necessary expertise within its subordinate
institutions. The State Govt interacts through its Health Authorities within the
Central Health Ministry in Implementation of food safety law.


Key Features of the Act
      The Act establishes the Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSA) to
       regulate the food sector.
      FSSA will be aided by several scientific panels and a central advisory
       committee to lay down standards for food safety. These standards will
       include specifications for ingredients, contaminants, pesticide residue,
       biological hazards and labels.
      State Commissioners of Food Safety and other local level officials will
       enforce the law.
      Every food business operator is required to have a license in order to
       operate his food business from State Food commissioners or from
       Designated Food Officers.
      Petty manufacturers who make their own food, hawkers, vendors or
       temporary stall holders do not require a license. Instead, they need to get
       their businesses registered with the local municipality or Panchayat.
      The provisions of this act will not apply on any farmer or fisherman or
       farming operations or crops or livestock or aquaculture, and supplied
       used or produced in farming or products of crops produced by a farmer
       at farm level or a fisherman in his operations.
      It has been observed that the implementing authorities under the Act will
       be of Central Government only, there has not been any provision under
       the Act to create infrastructure or utilize existing infrastructure of the
       States / UT Governments.
      The Act has stressed more on fine/punishment than on protecting the
       common man/ farmers/consumers/fisherman etc. Penalty clauses in
      general do not specify a minimum fine or a minimum imprisonment till
      rising of the court, etc

Issues of Concerns
There are several sections in the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, which
are bound to adversely affect consumers. For instance,

    The prevention of Food Adulteration Act-1954 provides Standards for
     consumer safety, quality parameters for industry and regulates imports of
     food. The Rules framed under the Act have laid down the definition and
     standards of quality of approximately 265 articles of food. In addition
     the Rules specify sampling procedures, packing and labeling of food.
     Repeal of PFA act would entail repeal of the Rules framed there under
     and thus lead to a vacuum in Food Standards and safety of consumers in
     the country.
    The procedure for improvement notices provided under the Sec 32
     (Improvement Notices) of the Act gives companies time to fix things and
     weakens their liability
    Sec 66(1) enables officials of big companies to escape liability by
     proving that any offence under the Act was committed „without their
     knowledge‟ or that „they had exercised due diligence‟ to prevent it.
    The penalties provided under the Act are capped at Rs 10 lakh, which
     will barely make a dent in the finances of companies who have a
     turnover in crores.
    The Act provides for a food recall procedure under Sec 28, which
     mandates a food business operator to recall a food item if it is
     manufactured in contravention of any provision of the Act. However
     there is no requirement that the food business operator inform consumers
     about a product recall, especially if some of the products have already
     been sold. Nor is there any cognizance of junk or fatty food, ignoring the
     fact that obesity has emerged as a major problem in India in recent years.
    This Act differentiates between contaminants, which renders food unsafe
     and „extraneous matter‟. Extraneous matter, it defines, will not render
     food unsafe.
    The Act also excludes plants prior to harvesting feed from its purview.
     Any harmful input such as pesticides in vegetables that could affect the
     safety standards of food products is not effectively covered.
    The FSSA tends to veer towards standardization of food standards.
     Section 3 (j) of the Act treats all types of food as the same. Natural
     organically processed food is not the same as chemically processed food,
       which is different from genetically engineered food. Different foods
       have different safety risks and need different safety laws and different
       systems of management.
      Section 16 (m) states that the Food Authority will take into account
       International Standards. Under India‟s diverse decentralized plural
       economy, a centralized integrated law is inappropriate on many counts.
       Indigenous Gur and Mithai have no international standards, they need
       indigenous standards.
      In view of the same laws like the FSSA are bound to loose their efficacy,
       as they may be inappropriate to the level and content, which they
       address. One law for all food systems is a law that privileges large-scale
       industrial commercial establishments and discriminates and criminalizes
       the small, the local, and the diverse.
      In essence, the bill creates a third category in India for “Dietary
       Supplements Nutraceuticals / Functional Foods / Foods for special
       dietary application.”
      In the absence of fully equipped laboratories with adequate trained staff,
       it is not possible to implement the Act effectively.



Recommendations and Conclusion
We have been following the newly formed Act from its beginning; now we
strongly believe that the Food Safety and Standards Authority will formulate
the Regulations and Standards in such a way that will take care of Consumers
Food safety issues. Some of the major issues that needs to be addressed during
the further course of actions are,

    We should have transparent compliance norms for the implementation of
     the Act wherein the role of State Governments and local bodies should
     be clearly defined
    There should be at least one food laboratory meeting NABL
     accreditation norms in each district for testing of food samples.
    All the regulations and standards should be laid down science based only
    The staff engaged in the implementation should be trained, experienced
     and showing full accountability to their service.

While the government has enacted the Food safety and Standards Act-2006, no
assessment has been made about the technical and upgraded manpower
required to meet and monitor the intended objectives. Therefore the Act could
turn out to be stillborn at the initial stage itself. While the new integrated food
law promises availability of safe food, its effective implementation will remain
the key issue for the Food safety and Standards Authority of India. Also in the
absence of consultation with State Govts it has not been clarified as to under
which entry in the central list this Act has been proposed and how the existing
infrastructure with the State / UT Governments and Local Bodies will be
utilized.
Introduction
The FSS Bill 2005 now has become the Food Safety and Standards Act-2006.
There are 12 chapters containing 101 clauses briefly and 2 Schedules in the
original Act. The apex authority under this is the Food Safety and Standards
Authority of India which under section16 (2) of the Act have the power to
specify Rules and Regulations for setting up of Standards for ensuring safe and
wholesome food for the consumers. The Food Authority shall, while framing
regulations or specifying standards under this Act will take into account-
(i) Prevalent practices and conditions in the country including agricultural
practices and handling, storage and transport conditions; and
(ii) International standards and practices, where international standards
or practices exist or are in the process ~f being formulated, unless it is of
opinion that taking into account of such prevalent practices and conditions or
international standards or practices or any particular part thereof would
not be effective or appropriate means for securing the objectives of such
regulations or where there is a scientific justification or where they would result
in a different level of protection From the one determined as appropriate in the
country.

The biggest challenge for the FSSAI that we foresee is the enforcement of FSS
Act 2006. Under chapter VII though the Act deals with its enforcement but
does not tell anything about how the existing infrastructure and machinery will
be utilized for its implementation.

Out of the seventeen different laws dealing with “Food” as a subject the eight
laws mentioned in the chapter first stand repeal from the day when the Act is
notified by the Nodal Ministry in the official Gazette of India. Food Laws from
which sections relating to food are required to be deleted /modified on
commencement of this Act are

  1. The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottle and Infant Foods (Regulation
     of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992.
  2. The Standards of Weights and Measure Act, 1976 (the packaged
     Commodity Rules, 1977).
  3. The Export (Quality Control and Inspection) Act, 1963.
  4. The Environment Protection Act, 1986.
  5. The Agriculture Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act, 1937.
  6. The Customs Act, 1962.
  7. The Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.
  8. The Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992.
  9. Other Acts/ Orders enacted or issued by the State Governments and
     Union Territories.

In order to create a single window clearance for the foreign and domestic
investors and to promote food processing industries the Govt of India decided
to formulate an Integrated Food Law for reducing red tapism and bureaucratic
hassles. The Govt of India justifies enactment Integrated Food law as plethora
of laws on food and its operations were leading a lot of confusion in the minds
of consumers. The Consumer organizations believe that it was mainly due to
the pressure from Industry that the need of integration of all such laws was felt
for giving the boost to the food processing Industries.

The Ministry of Food Processing Industries was assigned the task of piloting
the Integrated Food Law; the first Draft Bill became public in the month of
January 05 and since then we have been following up the Bill till it became an
Act. The MFPI produced the Bill before the cabinet for its approval and the
Cabinet at its meeting held on 04.08.2005 considered the proposal to enact
“Food Safety and Standards Bill, 2005” and approved the same. Accordingly
the bill was introduced the Lok Sabha on 25.08.2005 which was finally became
an Act after receiving Hon‟ble President‟s assent on it on August 23, 2006. The
Hon‟ble Speaker of Lok Sabha referred the Bill to the Standing Committee on
Agriculture for its report and deliberations. The Standing Committee on
Agriculture deliberated on the Bill during its meeting held on 21.9.05,
14.10.05, 8.11.05 and on 13.12.2005.The Committee received the written views
/suggestions from various Institutions Organisations.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture submitted its report on
the FSS Bill-2005, on 21.02.2006. The committee in its report had
recommended amendments in 26 clauses of the Bill and in 1 schedule. In total
the Standing Committee suggested 52 amendments in the Bill out of which 46
amendments were finally made in the FSS Bill 2005. The Lok Sabha accepted
all the recommendations of the committee on the Bill except the following 6
recommendations,

          1. Include drinking water in the definition of Food.
          2. The committee recommended inclusion of (i)3 eminent Food
             Scientist (Instead of 1) as 1 food techno, 1 Nutritionist & 1
             Microbiologist (ii) 2 farmer organizations (iii) 1 from retailers‟
             organization.
         3. Selection Committee for selection of chairperson or members of
            Food Authority in addition should contain MFPI secretary as
            chairman instead of cabinet secretary also 2 MPS should be
            member of the committee and secretary of Ministry of Agriculture
            should be one member of the committee.
         4. Inclusion of representative of Indian Standards Institute (BIS),
            ICMR and Recognized farmer Organization in Central Advisory
            Committee
         5 For check in policing and Inspector Raj it recommended
            Modifications/amendments in all the concerned clauses relating to
            grant of License, enforcement of the Act, analysis of Food,
            offences and penalties etc.
         6 The Ministry of Health to be the nodal Ministry for administering
            the Act.


The main objectives of the FSS Act are

   1. Single reference point for all matters relating to Food Safety &
      Standards, and regulations;
   2. Lay food standards based on science, transparency and consultation;
   3. Effectively regulate manufacture storage, distribution and sale of food to
      ensure consumer safety and promote global trade.
   4. Rationalize and strengthen existing enforcement mechanism.
   5. Shift from mere regulatory regime to self-compliances through Food
      Safety Management Systems.

Brief summery of some of the Acts being repealed by the Food
Safety and standards Act

The PFA Act of 1954

The objective of this law to protect the consumers against impure, unsafe, and
fraudulently labeled foods and is amended from time to time. PFA standards
and regulations apply equally to domestic and imported products. The PFA
covers various aspects of food formulation, food processing and distribution,
such as food standard, food color, preservatives, pesticide residues, packaging
and labeling, and regulation of sales. The law is enforced by the Director
General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,
Government of India (GOI). The PFA focuses primarily on the establishment of
regulatory standards for primary food products, which constitute the bulk of the
Indian diet. The PFA is not always able to keep pace with advances in the food
processing sector because of various social and administrative issues. PFA
rules sometimes appear to be drafted in a manner to establish minimum product
quality specifications, such as prescribing recipes for how food products should
to be manufactured. In case there are scientific reasons to amend the standards,
the concerned parties can appeal to have the PFA Rules amendments. Under
PFA, the Central Committee for Food Standards, chaired by the Director
General of Health Services, is the final decision making entity on PFA rules.
All imported products must adhere to the rules as specified in the regulation,
including the labeling and marking requirements.

 Most of scientific institutions in the area of food, food safety and standards are
functioning under Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, which includes


   1.   Indian Council of Medical Research , New Delhi,
   2.   National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad,
   3.   National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad,
   4.   National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Disease Kolkata,
   5.   All India Institute of Medical Science New Delhi,
   6.   All India institute of Hygiene and Public Health Kolkata,
   7.   Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata,
   8.   Food Research and Standardization Laboratory , Ghaziabad
   9.   Central Food Training Research Institute , Mysore

Apart from this there are about 72 food testing laboratories headed by public
analysts in various States under the PFA Act.



The Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976, and Standards of
Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rule, 1977

These legislative measures are designed to establish fair trade practices with
respect to packaged commodities. The rules aim to ensure that the basic rights
of consumers regarding vital information about the nature of the commodity,
the name and address of the manufacturer, the net quantity, date of
manufacture, and maximum sale price are provided on the label. Besides
Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976, and Standards of Weights and
Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rule, 1977, there are additional labeling
requirements for food items covered under the PFA Act and Rules. The
Department of Consumer Affairs in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food,
and Public Distribution is the regulatory authority for the Standards of Weights
and Measures Act, 1976, and Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged
Commodities) Rule, 1977 and subsequent notifications. Domestic and
Importers of packaged food products must adhere to these acts, including
labeling the product. The name and address of the importer, the net quantity,
date of manufacture, best-before date, and maximum sale price must be
included on the label.

The Fruit Products Order, 1955

The fruit and vegetable processing sector is regulated by the Fruit Products
Order, 1955 (FPO), which is administered by the Ministry of Food Processing
Industries. The FPO contains specifications and quality control requirements
regarding the production and marketing of processed fruits and vegetables,
sweetened aerated water, vinegar, and synthetic syrups. All such processing
units are required to obtain a license under the FPO, and periodic inspections
are carried out. Processed fruit and vegetable products in the country must meet
the FPO standards. In case of variation in the product standard between the
Fruit Products Order, 1955 and PFA Rules prevail over the FPO Act

Meat Food Products Order, 1992

This order administers the permissible quantity of heavy metals, preservatives,
and insecticide residues for meat products. The regulatory authority for this
order is Ministry of food processing Industries. This order is equally applicable
to domestic and foreign processors and importers of meat products. However,
its implementation is weak due to unorganized production in the domestic
market and few imports.

Expert’s opinion
For writing this paper we consulted a number of experts including the
government officials dealing with the Food safety Issues. Some expert believe
that the Act will have a significant impact on the Indian dietary supplement
industry as the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994
(DSHEA) has had for the United States dietary supplement industry. The FSS
Act will now open up tremendous opportunities for dietary supplement
companies throughout the world that want to sell to the Indian market. Some of
the experts are also of the opinion that the Bill cannot be implemented
effectively as we don‟t have sufficient infrastructure and quality manpower not
even under the PFA Act. The laboratories under the Ministry of Health are in
bad shape and existing for the name only they are also lacking in infrastructure
and skilled manpower. Some believe that the New Act will boast the Food
Trade for which it is made and will do little with the consumers‟ food safety.
The new Act will increase the existing inspector Raj as the licensing and
registration has made compulsory under the Act. Some experts were of the
opinion that all the regulations and Standards should be laid down science
based only, Risk Assessment, the implementation of the Act has to be scientific
& knowledge based. The Staff engaged in the actual implementation of the Act
should be trained experienced and qualified. We should have transparent
compliance norms for its implementation wherein the role of State Govts.
Municipal corporations, Panchayats Port export authority etc. should be
explicitly defined. The Authority should also conduct training programme for
the staff engaged in implementation of the Act from time to time.
Observations
From Media sources we come to know that after the Presidential assent the
MFPI was in the process of forming the FSSAI (as per the statement given by
the Secretary, MFPI in Indian Express Decembe 20, 2006). As per the
Parliamentary Standing Committee report the Committee asked the Ministry of
Food Processing Industries in October 2005 for detail of Food Testing
Laboratories functioning under the ministry in the country, state-wise and
whether they have been equipped properly along with the required manpower
including as implementation of this Bill mainly depends on testing/analysis
food samples. The reply of the Ministry revealed that a proper infrastructure
(laboratories) is yet to be established. Therefore we can assume that though
MFPI has drafted the IFL but the Ministry is not fully equipped to handle its
baby. The positions of the laboratories under the MoH are also pathetic, out of
74 labs under the Ministry maximum are poorly equipped and lack in skilled
manpower therefore ministry of Health at this point is also not fully equipped
for the implementation of the FSS Act 2006. We also believe that the Food
inspector working under the PFA Act have little idea about the consumers food
safety, GHP and GMP.

Food Laws in US and UK
The position in respect of similar laws in the US and UK is as under:-

(1) USA :- The Organisation which is responsible for public health in the USA
is the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA falls within the
executive branch of the US government under the Department of Health and
Human Services. The FDA is headed by a Commissioner of Food and Drugs,
who is appointed by the President of the United States, confirmed by the US
Senate, and serves at the President‟s discretion. The Office of the
Commissioner (OC) oversees all the Agency‟s components and is responsible
for the efficient and effective implementation of FDA‟s mission.
“The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety,
efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products,
medical devices, our nation‟s food supply, cosmetics and products that emit
radiation. The FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by
helping to speed innovations that make medicines and foods more effective,
safer and more affordable, and helping the public get the accurate, scientific
based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their
health”. The Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) is the lead office of FDA‟s
filed activities. The ORA strives to achieve effective and efficient compliance
of regulated products through high-quality, science-based work that maximizes
consumer protection.
(2) UK :- In UK the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is an independent
Government department set up by an Act of Parliament in 2000 to protect the
public‟s health and consumer interests in relation to food. The Agency is led by
a Board appointed to act in public interest

Key Provisions of the Act

Analysis of Food

Under chapter VIII of the Act the analysis of Food is dealt clause 43(1) of the
Act states that

The Food Authority may notify food laboratories and research institutions
accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration
Laboratories or any other accreditation agency for the purposes of cawing out
analysis of samples by the Food Analysts under this Act.
(2) The Food Authority shall, establish or recognize by notification, one or
more referral food laboratory or laboratories to carry out the functions
entrusted to the referral food laboratory by this Act or any Rules and
regulations made there under.
(3) The Food Authority may frame regulations specifying-
(a) the functions of food laboratory and referral food laboratory and the local
area or areas within which such functions may be carried out;
(b) the procedure for submission to the said laboratory of samples of articles of
food for analysis or tests, the forms of the laboratory's reports thereon and the
feespayable in respect of such reports; and
(c) such other matters as may be necessary or expedient to enable the said
laboratory to carry out its functions effectively.

We believe that for Analysis of food a network of laboratories is essential as
analysis of food is possible only if analysis of samples is conducted in a proper
and smooth manner and therefore, recommend that a new provision has to be
introduced requiring the Food Safety Authority to specify the criteria to be used
to recognize laboratories and referral laboratories for the purposes of the Act.
We also feel that in the absence of fully equipped laboratories with adequate
trained staff, it is not possible to implement the Act effectively. Therefore,
immediate steps will have to be taken to establish at least one fully equipped
lab with trained manpower in each district of the country. The standards for
analyzing various categories of food may also be laid down

Regulatory authority

The Act proposes to establish the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
(FSSA), which would lay down scientific standards of food safety and ensure
safe and wholesome food. The FSSA would be assisted by a Central Advisory
Committee, a Scientific Committee and a number of Scientific Panels in
specifying standards. The standards would be enforced by the Commissioner of
Food Safety of each state through Designated Officers and Food Safety
Officers. The Act establishes the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
(FSSA), which authority will be assisted by a central advisory committee, a
scientific committee and a number of scientific panels. The Commissioner of
Food Safety of each state through Food Safety Officers would enforce the
standards.

Enforcement

Every food business operator is required to have a license in order to operate
his food business. Petty manufacturers who make their own food, hawkers,
vendors or temporary stall holders do not require a license. Instead, they need
to get their businesses registered with the local municipality or Panchayat. The
Act empowers the FSSA and State Food Safety Authorities to monitor and
regulate the food business operators. The Commissioner of Food Safety of each
state appoints a Designated Officer (DO), not below the level of Sub-Divisional
Officer, for a specific district whose duties include issuing or canceling
licenses, prohibiting sale of food articles that violate specified standards,
receiving report and samples of food articles from Food Safety Officers and
getting them analyzed. The DO also has the power to serve an 'improvement
notice' on any food operator and suspend his license in case of failure in
compliance with such a notice. The DO also investigates any complaint made
in writing against Food Safety Officers. Food Safety Officers are appointed for
a specified local area and their duties include taking samples of food articles,
seizing food articles that are of suspect quality or inspecting any place where
food articles are stored or manufactured.

Jurisdiction

The State Commissioner, on the recommendation of the Designated Officer,
decides whether a case of violation would be referred to a court of ordinary
jurisdiction or to a Special Court. Cases relating to grievous injury or death for
which a prison term of more than three years is prescribed are tried in Special
Courts. In order to judge cases related to breach of specified regulations, the
state government has the power to appoint an Adjudicating Officer, not below
the rank of Additional District Magistrate. Any person not satisfied by the
decision of an Adjudicating Officer has the right to appeal to the Food Safety
Appellate Tribunal (or to the State Commissioner until the Tribunal is
constituted). The Tribunal enjoys the same powers as a civil court and decides
the penalty in case of non-compliance with the provisions of the Act.

Penalty

The Act provides for a graded penalty structure where the punishment depends
on the severity of the violation. Offences such as manufacturing, selling,
storing or importing sub-standard or misbranded food could incur a fine.
Offences such as manufacturing, distributing, selling or importing unsafe food,
which result in injury could incur a prison sentence. The sentence could extend
to life imprisonment in case the violation causes death. Petty manufacturers
who make their own food, hawkers, vendors or temporary stall holders could be
fined up to Rs 1 lakh if they violate the specified standards.

Issues of Consumers’ Concerns

There are a number of Consumer concerns relating to the implementation of the
law some of which are listed below:-

    Penalty of lowering standards to protect consumer Health
    Process qualification and expansion of personnel to man the proposed
     FSSI
    Role of State governments in the implementation of the Act.
    Mechanism for adjudication, compounding and compensation to
     consumers.
    There are several sections in the Food Safety and Standards Act, which
     are bound to adversely affect consumers. For instance, the procedure for
     improvement notices provided under the Sec 32 of the Act gives
     companies time to fix things and weakens their liability. Sec 66(1)
     enables officials of big companies to escape liability by proving that any
     offence under the Act was committed „without their knowledge‟ or that
     „they had exercised due diligence‟ to prevent it. The penalties provided
     under the Act are capped at Rs 10 lakh, which will barely make a dent in
     the finances of companies who have a turnover in crores.
 The Act provides for a food recall procedure under Sec 28, which
  mandates a food business operator to recall a food item if it is
  manufactured in contravention of any provision of the Act. However
  there is no requirement that the food business operator inform
  consumers about a product recall, especially if some of the products
  have already been sold. Nor is there any cognizance of junk or fatty
  food, ignoring the fact that obesity has emerged as a major problem in
  India in recent years. This Act differentiates between contaminants,
  which renders food unsafe and „extraneous matter‟. Extraneous matter,
  it defines, will not render food unsafe. The Act also excludes plants
  prior to harvesting feed from its purview. Any harmful input such as
  pesticides in vegetables that could affect the safety standards of food
  products is not effectively covered.
 While the government has drafted an integrated food law, no assessment
  has been made about the technical and upgraded manpower required to
  meet and monitor the intended objectives. Therefore the Act could turn
  out to be stillborn at the initial stage itself. While the new integrated
  food law promises availability of safe food, its effective implementation
  will remain the key.
 The FSSA tends to veer towards standardization of food standards.
  Section 3 (j) of the Act treats all types of food as the same. Natural
  organically processed food is not the same as chemically processed
  food, which is different from genetically engineered food. Different
  foods have different safety risks and need different safety laws and
  different systems of management. That is why in Europe there are
  different standards for organic, for industrial and genetically engineered
  foods.
 Section 16 (m) states that the Food Authority will take into account
  International Standards. Under India‟s diverse decentralized plural
  economy, a centralized integrated law is inappropriate on many counts.
  Indigenous Gur and Mithai have no international standards, they need
  indigenous standards. In view of the same laws like the FSSA are bound
  to loose their efficacy, as they may be inappropriate to the level and
  content, which they address. One law for all food systems is a law that
  privileges large-scale industrial commercial establishments and
  discriminates and criminalizes the small, the local, and the diverse.
 The enforcement mechanism within the Act is completely against the
  consumers and the common citizens of the country. Moreover, the
  proposed structure is totally top heavy and waste of our scarce
  resources. The structure suggested is also not clear on its functions and
  responsibilities with least degree of accountability towards the citizens.
 In the Bill it has been proposed that the Additional District Magistrate,
  which shall have the power of Civil Court, will adjudicate this. The
  existing PFA Act, 1954 is a Criminal Act and is tried by Criminal
  Courts. This is a major change, which goes against the interest of
  consumer. We do agree that within the existing PFA we need certain
  changes to take care of unintentional mistakes but it has to be done in a
  manner, which does not undermine the rights of the consumers who
  have paid a value towards the product and services. The penalties
  proposed under this Bill do not have any rationality and there is no
  minimum punishment / fine proposed in the Act.
 With the advent of new technology and day to day projections on TV
  and media the experience has shown that food products mostly of
  different varieties find a place on the Ads thus attracting the notice of
  the general public. No fool proof system has been proposed in the Act
  that could deter the Advertisers of sub-standard items from projecting
  such Ads.
Recommendations
Some of the recommendations that need attention and can be addressed while
laying down the Rules and Regulations under the Act are;

    There should be at least one Food Safety Appellate Tribunal in each
     State and Union Territory of the Country for quicker and faster
     decisions.
    The qualification of Food Analysts should not be less than Food
     Technologists, Biochemist, Microbiologists and Chemists with Food
     Technologist as desirable.
    The provision of six months compulsory training should be made for
     each food safety officer. There should be a grade system for appointing
     these food safety officers e.g. Food safety Officer Grade Junior, Senior
     etc. The recruitment should be made at junior level only. Their
     promotion should be based on their performance and understandings of
     the subject that can be checked by taking departmental exams that
     include written and oral tests.
    On recruiting the Food Inspector under PFA on the said post should
     again be made compulsory training of 2 months prior to giving them
     fresh appointment. We strongly believe that a large chunk of these food
     Inspectors has little idea about the aspects of hygiene and safe food for
     human consumption. This we believe was the main reason for poor
     implementation of the PFA Act-1954.
    In order to check Inspector Raj the Food Officer has to be made
     accountable by making him submitting weekly report to the District
     Food Authority and copy to the State Food Commissioner explicitly
     citing the details of applications for Registration of License, search,
     seizure etc along with a note from his end explaining the reasons for his
     actions. In case of search and seizer the local elected representative
     should be a witness during the exercise.
    In view of the large variety and diversity of food and food products, it is
     felt that experts in the field of toxicologist, microbiology and nutrition
     may be represented in the different bodies under the Act up to the extent
     it is possible.
    Under the extant Provision of Food Adulteration Act 1954, there is a
     Central Committee for Food Standards which advices the Central and
     State Governments on matters rising out of the administration of the Act
     and to carry out the other functions assigned to it under the Act (Clause 3
     of the PFA Act), with suitable modification not contravening the Act
    CCFS should be absorbed in the Central Advisory Committee under the
    Act.
   Proper mechanism needs to be evolved to check misleading
    advertisements, including ads relating to sale of soft drinks, sodas, etc.,
    manufactured by companies which manufacture/sell liquor also by the
    same brand name, before they are released in the print or electronic
    media.
   The FSSAI should work on target basis and publish a Target Plan for 5
    years( or may be for 3 years or any other) for itself that will state the
    then country‟s position on Hygiene, Food Safety, Food Security, threats
    etc.
   At least one Good quality food laboratory for testing of samples in each
    district of the country.
   The Codex contact point in India is presently the Director-General of
    Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
    Moreover, the MFPI does not have the necessary infrastructure like
    testing labs, etc. to enforce the provisions of the Act. It is therefore,
    suggested that it would be more appropriate if the Ministry of Health
    administers the proposed Act.
Conclusions

When go through the Act one can find that the primary objective of the Act is
to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.
Further, the Act intends to shift from mere regulatory regime to self-reliance
through Food Safety Management Systems. But this laudable step of the
Government to have a consolidated Food Law may not be successful as there
are numerous ambiguities that still exist in the Act. Now making the Act as a
Consumer Friendly Law is the responsibility of FSSAI primarily. We also
know that it‟s a long term process but ultimately can be achieved this requires
modification/amendment in all the concerned clauses especially those relating
to grant of license, enforcement of the act, analysis of food , offences and
penalties, etc. Now it depends on the Authority how efficiently it utilizes the
existing system including public private partnership in the implementation of
the Act that gives least burden to the public exchequer and simultaneously safe
and wholesome food to the consumers.