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FSSAI’s middle path; goes easy on licensing by making certification optional
Monday, 16 April, 2012, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Archana Aroor, Mumbai
Following the spate of agitations across the country against the new Food Safety and Standards (licensing and registration of food businesses) Regulations, 2011, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has attempted to carve a middle path by issuing an advisory that has made the long-winding Food Safety Management System Plan (FSMS) certification procedure for Food Business Operators (FBOs) optional.

The advisory issued by the FSSAI said, “Considering the difficulties faced by the FBOs in complying with the FSMS, a document that records the entire list of the activities carried out by the food manufacturer or handler or reseller of food in ensuring that the food is safe and facilitating the issuance or renewal or conversion of new licences during the transition period of one year, it has now been made optional.”

Further, it stated that in lieu of this, the applications for licensing should be accompanied by an affidavit by the FBO on a non-judicial stamp paper declaring that it would follow good manufacturing practices as mentioned in Schedule 4 of the abovementioned regulations. It means that a mere declaration by the FBO that it will ensure food safety as per regulations will be enough, instead of the earlier lengthy procedure of proving safety of food and obtaining certification.

Reacting to the development, Prabodh Halde, vice-president, Association of Food Scientists and Technologists, India (AFSTI), told FnB News in a chat over telephone, “I think it is a positive step that the apex regulatory body has taken in order to ensure safety of the consumers and also making the manufacturers easier to obtain a licence hereafter.”

Halde felt that henceforth, the initiative of the FSSAI would only fasten the speed of licensing in the country.

Meanwhile, Anil Kumar, joint commissioner, FDA, Kerala, explained, “A copy of the advisory note had already been circulated to all the food safety commissioners in the states and designated officers of FSSAI and other authorised officers and we have been waiting for the decision.” He was confident that the Authority was capable of working on the problems the FBOs were facing and coming out with convenient solutions. He added that these issues would be discussed at a workshop to be held on April 20 by FSSAI in New Delhi.

However, S V S S Velshankar, honorary secretary, Tamil Nadu Food Grains Merchants' Association, argued that the regulations had to be further simplified as per Indian standards in favour of small and medium traders. He also feared that though some leniency was being shown right now, FBOs might be harassed at a later stage with regard to food safety.
 
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