Food Safety and Standards Authority regime in place of expired Prevention of Food Adulteration Act

The deadline for those involved in manufacturing, selling or distributing food to obtain licences from the Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSA) of India or register with it ends on February 4 after a grace period of two years.

Food services, including schools serving noonday meals, need to register with FSSA or face prosecution under the new food safety regime. Headmasters of schools serving noonday meals would have to apply for the registration, said an FSSA official.

The official said food sellers who continued to stay in business without registration or a licence after the February 4 could face imprisonment up to six months and fine of Rs. two lakh.

College, school and industrial canteens too will have to either register with or obtain licence from the Food Safety and Standards Authority to remain in business legally. “The new rules are applicable to anyone involved in food business, including those who operate storage space for import or export purposes,” said the official. Toddy shops and meat sellers too come under the FSSA rules and need either licence or registration.

Though the validity of the old food safety regime under Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act ended in March 2011, food businesses have been given time till February 4 to change over. Under PFA rules, local bodies issued licences and registrations to food businesses.

According to the FSSA official, businesses with a turnover of up to Rs. 12 lakh a year need only register with the authority. Others with a turnover of more than Rs. 12 lakh a year need to obtain a licence.

The official said that a total of around 5,000 licences had already been issued to food businesses in Ernakulam district. Around 23,000 food businesses have also registered with the FSSA in the district.

Meanwhile, the FSSA official said the authority planned to intensify collection of statutory samples for testing. Food items and ingredients were tested on a continuous basis to ensure safety, the official said.

About 15 per cent of the samples tested over the last one year had been found adulterated, he said. The tested samples included cardamom, pulses, ice used in cool drinks.

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