The stringent standards prescribed in the Food Safety and Standards Act will adversely affect small manufacturers and traders of food products, the Agro Food Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said.

Chamber president S. Rethinavelu said that many villages in the country were yet to have easy access to potable water and implementing the stringent standards immediately would result in small traders in rural areas losing out to multinationals.

A delegation, comprising Mr. Rethinavelu; president of the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry N. Jegatheesan; and other office-bearers met the Chief Executive Officer of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India in New Delhi recently and submitted a memorandum pressing their demands.

Mr. Rethinavelu said adequate levels of awareness should be created and food business operators educated to raise their business to the standards expected by the Food Standards and Safety Authority.

For an initial period of three years, no prosecution should be initiated for contravening the norms of registration, licensing, and hygiene standards.

One accredited food analysis laboratory should be established in all districts before the Act is enforced as, at present, the number of such laboratories was insufficient.

The Agro Chamber also called for dropping the provision requiring the food business operator to obtain all documents prescribed.

This provision is “expensive and time-consuming,” and will greatly affect the small players.

He also called for reducing the licensing fee from its present levels of Rs. 5,000 for petty traders and street vendors and Rs.10,000 for others.