Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has warned food business operators across the country that the deadline for obtaining licences and registrations under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, will not be extended again.
When the Act was notified and implemented from August 5, 2011, businesses were given an initial deadline of a year to register.
It was extended from August 4, 2012 to February 4, 2013 and again to February 4 this year, R. Kathiravan, Designated Officer of Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department (Food Safety Wing), told The Hindu here on Tuesday.
Following this directive, food safety officials have launched an awareness campaign urging all food businesses ranging from road side eateries and canteens to star-category hotels and restaurants to either register or obtain licence.
The Act provides for imposing a fine of up to Rs. 5 lakh besides imprisonment up to six months on food businesses operating without licences.
The Designated Officer estimated that there must be around 22,000 food businesses in Coimbatore district. Till now, 2,658 food business operators have been issued licences and another 6,636 issued registrations, totalling 9,264.
Firms with annual turnover below Rs. 12 lakh will require registration and those above have to obtain licences.
“The process had been simplified and can be done completely online within a couple of hours. They can even post the documents to the Food Safety Office,” he said.Benefit
The benefit for consumers was that all licensed/registered food outlets and dealers will have had their kitchens and storehouses inspected by the officials at least once a year besides being subjected to random checks.
They would also be trained on the proper storage of various food materials and identification of expiry dates in food product packs.
They would have legal responsibilities that would prevent them from selling adulterated and non-branded products, Dr. Kathiravan said.
Even anganwadi centres of Integrated Child Development Services, noon meal centres in Government schools and Amma Canteens must obtain licences/registration.
All the 1,434 fair price shops in the district have already obtained licences.
The Food Safety Act mandated all food manufacturers, packers, distributors, importers, 100 per cent food export-oriented units, restaurants, canteens, transporters and food processors to get registered or obtain a licence.
The FSSAI was created under this Act as a statutory body under the Union Health Ministry to lay down science-based standards for food articles and regulating manufacturing, processing, distribution, sale and import of food.