Explaining the salient features of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, which has repealed the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954, the Food Safety Office, Coimbatore, sensitised the merchant community to the need for registration and obtaining licence.
Food safety and prevention of adulteration has been taken away from the local administration ministry and made a separate department under the Food Safety Authority of India. In the State, Food Safety Commissionerate and Designated Officers for Food Safety and Food Safety Officers come under the Department of Health and Family Welfare. The Act has come into being from August 5, 2011 and now the modalities have been finalised and enforcement has begun.
The Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 will automatically repeal any other State legislation on food safety in force.
In Coimbatore, Designated Officer R. Kadiravan along with Food Safety Officers K. Chandran, K. Sakthivel and R. Ramachandran addressed the members of the merchant community recently to explain the features of the Act.
The Act brings roadside eateries, food stalls and vendors under its purview and also enables manufacturers of food items to write to the Food Safety authorities and recall their food products in the event of defective products or adulteration in their food items. As against the seven different licences for products coming under the Fruit Product Order, Meat Food Production Order, Vegetable Oil Product Control Order, Edible oil Packaging and Regulation Order 1988, Solvent Extracted Oil Order, Edible Flour Food Products Order, Milk Products Order 1992 and any other orders relating to products covered under Essential Commodities Act 1955, there is only one unified licence under the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006.
The new order also calls for just a registration fee of Rs.100 for small food business while for businesses with higher turnover, licence is required for which the fee is Rs.2,000. For registration and licence, there is a time bound mechanism. If there is failure to issue registration within 30 days or to issue licence within 60 days, the applicant is at liberty to continue his business.
The Act has also given provision for appointment of private agencies, which will take up the registration and licence application procedure for merchants.
The Food Safety authorities here have planned to begin the enrolment for registration and licence by holding special camps at market places. List of private food laboratories with certification from National Accreditation Board for Calibration and Laboratories (NABL) has been circulated and the Government laboratories are also on the job of getting the NABL certification. Under the previous Act, during inspection, three samples used to be lifted. To prevent complaints of excesses, the new Act paves the way for picking up four samples and the manufacturer or shop owner is at liberty to send one of the samples to a private laboratory of his choice. In the event of difference in lab reports, then the samples could be sent to the referral laboratory. There are enough provisions to ensure food safety and prevention of adulteration and also to protect the merchant community from official high-handedness, the officials point out.