The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 is a tool to empower consumers and provide them with information on products they wish to buy, according to K. Sadasivam, Joint Director, Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Chennai.

The Act seeks to create awareness among consumers and has provisions that would enable them to take samples for testing to ascertain their quality.

He was addressing an awareness programme on the Act organised here on Tuesday by Madurai District Tiny and Small Scale Industries Association (MADITSSIA), Federation of Indian Food Industries (FIFI), Tamil Nadu Foodgrains Merchants Association and Sweets and Biscuits Manufacturers and Traders Principle Association with support from the Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries.

Allaying the apprehension of traders, he said that an official would be designated to monitor all operations under the Act at the district level. If they face any harassment, the Act gives them a platform to air their grievance. This Act provides new safeguards that were not available under the earlier Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, he said.

While the Act has been passed by the Parliament, the notification is yet to come as the rules were now being framed. It is likely to be enforced by November, he said.

Proper differentiation

KR. Gnanasambandan, vice-president, Tamil Nadu Small and Tiny Industries Association (TANSTIA), said that the Act should differentiate between the small players and major corporates in the sector. A small dealer operating in a local market would not be able to spend thousands of rupees to ascertain the calorific value of his product. These provisions should be enforced only for those aiming at a pan-Indian market, he said.

N. Somasundaram, MADITSSIA president, said that the penalty provisions in the FSA Act was very high and should be lowered. P. Subash Chandra Bose, secretary of Tamil Nadu Foodgrains Merchants Association, said that traders and representatives of the business community should be given a place in the Implementation Committee.

P.C. Duraisamy, FIFI president, Joseph Lawrence, FIFI secretary, and V.S. Manimaran, MADITSSIA secretary, spoke.

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