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FSSAI is misleading industry by giving incomplete info: former APEDA chief
Tuesday, 03 April, 2012, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Irum Khan, Mumbai
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is misleading industry by publishing incomplete information. In its latest advertisement published in the media, the Authority has refrained from clarifying its stand on certain requirements of the Act which could create a situation of confusion for the consumers. This was stated by Nagendra Bhargava of the Midland Fruit & Vegetable Products (I) Pvt. Ltd.

Bhargava, who was the former chairman of Processed Food Export Promotion Council (replaced by The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority - APEDA), was referring to the March 25 advertisement published by the FSSAI in the newspapers making it mandatory for the food products manufacturers to print certain details on their label. These included name of the food, name and complete address of the manufacturer, net quantity/net content/net weight, lot/code/batch no., list of ingredients (inclusive of additives) in descending order, nutritional information (proteins, fats and carbohydrates), best before/expiry date, declaration regarding food additives (INS number), and vegetarian or non-vegetarian declaration.

Bhargava said that as per the provision contained under Part XX of Fruit Products Order, 1955, a manufacturer has been exempted from declaring full name and place of manufacture if declaration of "Product of India" or "Produce of India" is made along with License Number on the label, in case of export of any fruit product from India.

Now the FPO has been repealed with the enforcement of FSS Act from August 5, 2011.

There is no such provision under the FSS Labelling Regulations 2011 regarding declaration of "Product of India" on the labels of the food products either for domestic market or for the products exported from India.

Besides, those who already hold licenses under the FPO and MFPO have applied for conversion but their licences have not been converted by FSSAI even after 90 days of submitting their applications. Once their existing licences issued under the FPO or MFPO expire on December 31, 2012, which License No. will they put on the main label of the food products manufactured by them on and whether the date would be January 1, 2013? Also, will their continuing manufacturing food products after the expiry of their old licences under FPO or MFPO, not amount to contravention of FSSA?

Further, the FSSAI has also not explained its stand on the Licence Number. “As per vide draft notification dated December 29, 2011, (F.No.4/15015/30/2011) it is clearly stated that mentioning License No. will also become mandatory once it is gazetted. So, why did the Authority not care to include Licence No. in its published advertisement. We will have to waste lakhs of rupees if we have to change the label again and again.”

Also, in the vide instruction dated January 24, 2012, it was clarified as to who would get the licence from the Centre and the states who would get the registration number.

For units with annual turnover less than Rs 12 lakh it has been said that a registration number would be issued and not licence number. “What about these units? Will they be required to put registration number on the labels of food products manufactured by them once it becomes mandatory or not,” Bhargava questioned.

There is also no clarity regarding renewal of licences yet. While for renewal, one has to apply 30 days prior to the expiry date. But the FSSAI states that all food business operators should get their existing licence converted within one year of notification of the regulations, i.e. by August 5, 2012.

“Which rule should we follow,” asked Bhargava.

Another point which also needs clarification is that if one applies for issuance of a new licence on July 30, 2012, can he / she continue doing food business after August 5?

Bhargava has requested the FSSAI to provide necessary clarification whether such declaration was mandatory or not as per new regulations. However, for the past six months no single query has been resolved by the FSSAI. “Not giving complete information is misleading consumers,” said Bhargava.
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