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FSSAI launches food regulatory portal on eve of World Food India 2017
Friday, 03 November, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s apex food regulator, has launched a food regulatory portal, a powerful tool for food businesses, on the eve of World Food India (WFI) 2017, a ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI) initiative slated to commence at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan on November 3.

It is a full-service, business-friendly portal for food businesses that focuses on six key areas, viz food standards; consistent enforcement; hassle-free food imports; credible food testing; codified food safety practices and training and capacity-building.

Being a single platform for all the stakeholders to ensure ease of doing business by providing a single portal for all the stakeholders, it will cater to both domestic operations as well as imports. It is an important milestone for the effective and transparent implementation of the country’s food laws.

It will prove to be a game-changer by addressing food business concerns [primarily food safety (which is the backbone of the food processing industry and impacts its the most)] across the spectrum by ensuring ease of entry and a reduced burden of compliance and facilitating trade.

The portal was launched at a national conclave, titled One Nation One Food Law - Common Standards, Credible Testing and Consistent Enforcement and organised by FSSAI. The conclave was the vision behind the portal, which was launched by Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI.

Stating that the development came in the wake of the jump in India’s rank from 130 to 100 in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, Agarwal termed the launch of the portal a major development.

“It will create a robust environment for the uniform implementation of the law across the states and Union Territories (UTs) and a coordinated approach across Central agencies, leading to a transparent and enabling business environment,” he added.

In this portal, ease of entry is facilitated through a food licensing and registration platform (FLRS) hosted on this portal. The FLRS has now been further simplified with timelines prescribed at each stage.

And to demystify the standards, the Indian Food Standards-Quick Access (IFS.QA) system, a responsive information technology (IT) platform has been created, where users can access thousands of product standards and millions of provisions of additives and maximum residue limits (MRLs) for toxins and contaminants at the click of a button.

Agarwal stated that all these initiatives found a place on the food regulatory portal to create transparency and reduce barriers to entry.  

He said, “Digital and smart technologies are being leveraged to do more with less and bring an end to arbitrariness and ad hocism in inspections and sampling.”

“Food Safety Compliance through Regular Inspections and Sampling (FoSCoRIS), formally unveiled on the eve of WFI 2017, replaces manual inspections with digital inspections,” Agarwal added.

“It uses simple mobile devices with dashboards to monitor, on real-time basis, at the district, state and national levels,” he said.

“For consistency, standard matrices have been developed for inspection for various kinds of food businesses,” Agarwal said.

“FoSCoRIS would thus ensure a consistent experience to food businesses across states and UTs, thereby building their confidence in the regulatory environment,” he added.

For credible and efficient food testing for food businesses, a nationwide network of all food testing labs on a single technology platform, the Indian Food Laboratory Network (InFoLNet) was also launched.

This would bring in the much-desired standardisation in food testing, that is one food product, one set of parameters and one parameter, one test method.  

Besides, to ensure a single point of references for all food-related business compliances, the food regulatory portal has also compiled related information and links to other national agencies in the food safety ecosystem, such as legal metrology, customs, plant and animal quarantine, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and AGMARK.

An institutional mechanism for inter-agency coordination and cooperation and integrated grievance redressal is also on the anvil.

IndiaHACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) and IndiaGHP (good hygiene practices) were launched by the Quality Council of India (QCI) on the occasion.

Ashish Bahuguna, chairperson, FSSAI, said, “The food regulatory portal is a unique and comprehensive full-service platform for food businesses, which would go a long way in raising the bar of the food safety in the country.”

The portal was launched by Amitabh Kant, chief executive officer, NITI Aayog. He lauded the efforts of FSSAI and termed it as a key milestone in India’s regulatory reforms.

“FSSAI’s efforts towards consistency and transparency in enforcement and ease of doing business in the food regulatory environment would garner the confidence of all stakeholders involved,” he added.

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor said, “Food is the second major reason for people to travel. India, with its rich diversity in food, is a much sought-after destination, making food safety paramount.”

“Food is a common language that can bring all stakeholders together on a common platform to ensure safe and nutritious food,” he added.

“FSSAI has done a commendable job over the years in a very systematic way. I am happy to contribute my time to support their efforts,” said Kapoor.

Meanwhile, Agarwal termed it as historic in the evolution of food safety laws in the country and bringing to life the spirit that is enshrined the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

“The Act unified nine existing laws into a single Act and laid the legal ground for One Nation, One Food Law. Eleven years later, the food regulatory portal has laid a solid foundation for the uniform implementation of this law, and will go down in history as another memorable milestone,” he added.
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