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Harmonisation of standards with CODEX by end of the year, workshop told
Wednesday, 20 March, 2013, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is working towards the harmonisation of India’s food standards with CODEX standards and other international best practices.

The effort is to address every plan of food business and in the next two to three years, ensure that India has the best standards globally in food safety - latest by December 2014 with a final extended deadline of March 2015.

“We are looking to review the standards taking into account the latest developments in food science globally, food consumption pattern, new specifications, presence of new contaminants and toxins, besides use of new food additives and ingredients,” said S Dave, advisor, FSSAI.

Dave was in Bengaluru for the fifth workshop programme on harmonisation of India’s food standards with CODEX and other international best practices, organised by the Confederation of Indian Food Trade and Industry (food wing of FICCI) in association with FSSAI. The earlier workshops were held at Mumbai, Kolkata, Kochi and New Delhi.

In his inaugural address, he said that a strategy was being put in place to implement harmonisation of India’s food standards, food safety management programme and set up a framework for national research labs, besides train the lab technicians and analysts. Since all these segments were interrelated and did not function in isolation, there was need to have coordinated efforts.

“The food safety management strategy has 11 schemes covering from good manufacturing practices to storage and retail. We are now keen to create awareness about this. Simultaneously, efforts are on to modernise 40 state labs and 32 public labs to Level 1. This strategy presentation will be ready by next month where we are looking to monitor the lab practices ensure the right people are hired to deliver the required results,” stated Dave.

“FSSAI is inviting experts from the industry, government, academia, laboratories and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to participate in the harmonisation process. It is necessary to identify the current areas and volume of work involved in explaining the strategy, scope of work, guidelines for working groups, timelines, format and procedures to forward nominations. It is evident that the process of harmonisation cannot be complete without the active contribution and cooperation of experts in the country,” he added.

India needs to consider the development of new standards in the wake of an environment of open market. This has led FSSAI to frame a strategy to take up the work in a time- bound manner, according to Dave.

Providing the indispensability of harmonisation of India’s food standards on par with Codex and other international best practices, Rajendra Dobriyai, member, FICCI CODEX cell, said that it would help enhance food trade with developed countries and increase consumer confidence. It was a long felt need for the industry to review the reforms and allow advanced technology to improve speed to market.

“It was high time that India explores the possibilities for self regulation, broaden use of additives in food categories and align with the Codex GFSA (General Standard for Food Additives). There is no doubt that the industry is looking for standards and shift focus to ingredients from products. Now the food industry is keen to play its role and regulations are mandated to permit rational fortification of all commodities,” said Dobriyai.
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