Sellers and producers of eatables including hawkers selling vegetables and fruits either by head load or through push carts, owners of roadside chilli chicken stalls, tea stalls and other eateries, retail dealers in foodstuffs, owners of rice mills and oil mills and owners of hotels, restaurants, bakeries, mutton stalls, milk producers and sellers, those running canteens in schools, colleges, business establishments and factories and those cooking food in marriage halls in Vellore district have been asked to obtain/renew their licences under the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 before February 4, 2013.

According to a release from the Collector of Vellore district, the registration of the names of the dealers and producers and obtaining the licence to sell/supply/produce the eatables have been made compulsory under the Act. The organisations required to obtain licences included fair price shops, Indian Made Foreign Liquor shops run by the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation, places where ‘annadhanam’ is performed and ‘prasadam’ distributed in temples, and hostels run by the Departments of Adi Dravidar Welfare and Backward Classes Welfare.

The Collector said that all government-owned establishments dealing in edible items have already obtained the licence. Dealing in edible items and foodstuffs without licence is considered a crime under the Act, which is punishable with a maximum of six months imprisonment or maximum fine of Rs.five lakhs.

Small, tiny and medium establishments doing business in edible items and having a turnover of up to Rs.12 lakh should fill Form ‘A’ available with the concerned Food Safety Officer, while those having a turnover of above Rs.12 lakh should fill Form ‘B’ available with the District Designated Officer, Food Safety Department, whose office is located in the 5th floor of the ‘A’ Block of the Collectorate in Sathuvachari, Vellore. The Food Safety and Standards Act requires the food establishments to keep their premises clean and hygienic. Persons afflicted with infectious diseases should not be employed in their establishments. The premises should be free from rats, insects and disease-causing germs. They should not reuse used edible oil.

Existing licence-holders should renew or modify their licences before February 4, 2013. Those who have not so far obtained their licences should apply immediately and obtain their licences before the same date. Exports and importers of food items should apply for licences before December 4, 2012.

Further particulars could be had by contacting the District Designated Officer, Food Safety Department (ph.0416-2252249, 9698938880).

M.S. Sampath Kumar, District Designated Officer told TheHindu that there are 27 block-level Food Safety Officers in Vellore district.