12,000 units need to be registered and 2,800 require licence

Despite the one-year extension given for food business units to register themselves under the Food Safety and Standards Act, several traders engaged in the business in the district have failed to utilise the window and still seem to be reluctant to comply with the requirement.

As per the Act, all food business operators with a turnover of Rs. 12 lakh should obtain licence from the designated officer and those with turnover of below Rs. 12 lakh should register themselves with the respective food safety officer.

Apart from hotels and restaurants, roadside eateries, grocers, and departmental stores selling food products, and meat stalls would have to register or obtain licence depending on the turnover. The Act was enforced through the Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department which had a district-level designated officer and food safety officers across the district.

According to estimates, about 12,000 units engaged in the food sector in the district need to be registered and about 2,800 require licence. The deadline for the units to register themselves was extended by a year in February last year. With just about a couple of weeks to go for the extended deadline of February 4, enquiries revealed that many units were yet to register themselves.

According to sources, about 7,200 units had registered so far and about 890 units had been issued licences. District officials had already held a series of awareness meetings across the district to sensitise traders to the provisions of the Act.

But with a few traders’ organisations making a bid to get a further extension of time, many traders are reluctant to go in for the registration. A delegation of the Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangankalin Peramaippu recently called on the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and urged him to either scrap the Act or extend the deadline.

“We are hopeful that the Centre will extend the deadline and make appropriate changes in the Act so as to remove certain impractical rules,” Ve. Govindarajalu, treasurer of the organization, told The Hindu.

Meanwhile, the Food Safety Department officials were making good progress in registering government agencies, including ration shops, Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies godowns, HR and CE Department temples and government hostels.

The process of registration of all government agencies would be completed within a week or 10 days, said an officer of the department.