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FSSAI releases food recall notification applicable to entire food chain
Monday, 30 January, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
FSSAI has released a Gazette notification for food recall procedure. The notification is applicable to the entire food chain which includes the manufacture, processing, distribution, sale, import and export of food. To ensure the food recall, the notification laid emphasis on traceability to follow the movement of a food article through specified stages of its production, processing and distribution.

However, it exempts food retailers from having such a plan unless they manufacture, import, or are involved in the wholesale supply of food.

According to the notification, food business operators (FBOs) will have to maintain the food distribution records, which include the names and addresses of suppliers and customers, nature of food, date of purchase, date of delivery, lot number, batch code, pack size, brand name, date of manufacture, date of expiry and best before date, and shall maintain such records for a period of one year from the best-before date or the expiry date, as applicable.

The notification will enable the food regulator to remove the food from the market at any stage of the food chain, including that which is possessed by consumers. It also urged the FBOs to have a food recall plan in place to retrieve food and food products from the food chain if a problem arises.

Ashwin Bhadri, chief executive officer, Equinox Labs says that the food recall plan is extremely important especially in a country as diverse as India. The strength of the food business is gargantuan.

“However, a large number of products is the market. If recall is not done correctly, even if a company initiates a recall, it may not retrieve even 10 per cent of its product. Having a strong recall plan, along with mock drills that are carried out throughout the year, will definitely make sure that the recall plan works. Enforcing recall plan by FSSAI has been an excellent step. Now it is the industry's time to match up to their requirements and test the recall plan at least once in a year to make sure when they need to use it, it will do its job effectively,” he added.

Bhadri said that India has seen a very small number of food recalls through the years, so most companies have no idea on how to initiate a recall and how it will actually work. It’s a good time for them to prep now, than to start scratching their heads when they are on the verge of doing a recall.

The notification also defined food under recall which means “the specific lot or batch or code number of food product that has been determined by the food authority or the commissioner of food safety of the state or Union Territory or the food business operator as not in compliance with the Act or rules or regulations made thereunder.”

The apex food regulator will also has been given power to issue recall alert to be issued by the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) or the state food commissioner on information of unsafe food.

These regulations would apply to the food or food products that are determined or prima facie considered unsafe. Further, every food business operator will have to follow a food recall procedure, including complete process of recall, post-recall report, and follow-up action in order to ensure the effectiveness of the recall and prevent recurrence.
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