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FSSAI issues food recall guideline for FBOs to devise food recall plan
Monday, 04 December, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has issued a guideline note for food recall, which will allow the food business operators (FBOs) to devise a plan for food recall at any stage of the food chain, including that possessed by the consumer. Serious defaulters’ licenses will be reviewed under these guidelines.

The country’s apex food regulator will also publicise the recall for sending an alert about the health hazard. Also at the time the recall is being carried out, the FBOs shall submit their detailed recall plan to FSSAI’s chief executive officer.

The guideline stated that all FBOs, as prescribed in Regulation 7 of the Food Safety and standards (Food Recall Procedure) Regulations, 2017, must have an up-to-date recall plan, as provided in the guideline as a model recall plan.

According to the model plan, the process will start with the assembly of the recall management team, notifying the authority and identifying all the products that are to be recalled.

Thereafter, the detention and segregation of all products that are to be recalled will commence.

The FBOs will then prepare and distribute the information for recall, including press communiqués.

They will then have to verify the effectiveness of the recall, and decide what to do with the recalled product(s).

Then, the FBOs have to fix the cause of the recall if the problem has occurred at their facility.

Experts opined that it was extremely important to have an food recall plan as it was essential that food businesses comply 100 per cent with FSSAI and its regulations, including those pertaining to the ingredients used, their permissible limits, the processing aids used in their marketing and the labelling details.

And both FBOs and the authority have an equal and pivotal role to play in this policy-making implementing it.

Ashwin Bhadri, chief executive officer, Equinox Labs, and expert on food safety related matters, said, “As per Regulation 7 of Food Safety and Standards (Food Recall Procedure) Regulations, 2011, all the food businesses are mandated to have an up-to-date recall plan maintained.”

“From assembling the recall management team to understand the flaw and the location of the loophole, each and every step help save time and money for a food business,” he added.

“This helps protect the brand’s equity, safeguard the health of the public and gather product information to analyse the underlying cause, as well as put in place the preventive measures to avoid such recall in future,” Bhadri said.

“This works in two ways. Firstly, preventive measures to avoid food recall are in place as well as the loopholes present in the entire product chain are identified, and secondly, public health and safety are prioritised and damage to brand equity is prevented,” he added.

“Overall, this empowers the Indian food standards, instilling trust in both the Indian and the international market about Indian food products,” Bhadri said.

Meanwhile, these guidelines stated that food recall was an appropriate method for removing or correcting marketed food products and their labelling that violate the laws administered by FSSAI.

The regulator stated that food on sale for human consumption must be wholesome, unadulterated, uncontaminated, properly labelled and fit for human consumption.

Violation of the provisions in these regards may lead to regulatory action against the concerned FBO under the Act or rules and regulations made thereunder.

“The guidelines will assist in identifying products which are unsafe that violate the Act, or the rules or regulations made thereunder, and enable the recall of the product(s) from the marketplace,” FSSAI said in a statement.

The apex food regulator will monitor the progress of the recall and assess the action of the FBO, and after a recall is completed, it will make sure that the product is either destroyed or suitably improved.  

According to the guidelines, it will be the FBOs’ responsibility to carry out the recall,  and ensure its successful implementation.

Further if the product may have reached the consumer, the FBO shall effectively and accurately inform the consumers of the reason for its recall, and if necessary, recall the food product from the consumers that have already been supplied to them.
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