“Food” means a raw, cooked, or processed edible substance, ice, beverage, or ingredient used or intended for use or for sale in whole or in part for human consumption, or chewing gum. Every country needs laws to encourage the production of safe and wholesome foods, and to prohibit the sale of foods that are unsafe or fraudulent. The growing population has placed demands on agriculture for increased production. However, the increase of agricultural production is connected with the wider use of chemicals. Protection of food during transport and storage may require the use of chemicals, too. Many businesses were responsible and took great care to protect the health of consumers. However, some dishonest traders misused the unregulated markets to sell adulterated food. Such abuses led to government involvement and over time to the enactment of food laws and regulations.

Food Law may be divided in two parts: (1) a basic food act, and (2) regulations. Sometimes food standards, hygienic provisions, lists of food additives, chemical tolerances, and so on are included in basic food control law.

 

INDIAN FOOD INDUSTRY:

  • India is the world’s second largest producer of food next to China
  • India is one of the world’s major food producers but accounts for less than 1.5 per cent of international food trade.
  • This indicates vast scope for both investors and exporters.
  • Food exports in 1998 stood at US $5.8 billion whereas the world total was US $438 billion.
  • The Indian food industries sales turnover is Rs 140,000 crore (1 crore = 10 million) annually as at the start of year 2000.

The industry has the highest number of plants approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) outside the USA.

The act brought into force in place of the PFA is the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (hereinafter referred to as “FSSA“) that overrides all other food related laws. It specifically repealed eight laws which were in operation prior to the enforcement of FSSA:

  • The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
  • The Fruit Products Order, 1955
  • The Meat Food Products Order, 1973
  • The Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947
  • The Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1998
  • The Solvent Extracted Oil, De oiled Meal, and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967
  • The Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992
  • Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (in relation to food)

In some countries food standards are part of the regulations; in other countries they are separate enactments. Regardless of whether they are included in regulations or are separate, they become part of the enforcement structure, and are intended to implement basic food law.

The Indian food safety regulations, as implemented by the FSSAI, are primarily based on the Codex Alimentarius. The Codex was formed with the collaborative efforts of the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, two eminent United Nations health and food bodies. The Codex Alimentarius international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice contribute to the safety and quality of the food that reaches consumers. Since the FSSAI regulations are framed on the guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius, they adhere to international standards. Other international standards formulated by global agencies like the European Food Safety Authority, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and the USFDA have also to some extent been assimilated, integrated, and harmonized into the Indian standards, thereby bringing them almost at par with the global standards.

In India Nine different laws and eight different ministries governing the food sector. Laws framed by different Ministries/Depts.With different perspective and enforcement approach. Major Laws The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, The Food Safety and Standards Rules, 2011, and several Regulations, namely

  • Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011
  • Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011
  • Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011
  • Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011
  • Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations, 2011
  • Food Safety and Standards (Laboratory and Sample Analysis) Regulations, 2011

The recent proposals mentioned in the new Draft Regulations will soon be finalized to become the new Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2015. They will provide new directives in areas such as nutraceuticals and health supplements, which is the need of the hour as these are becoming popular food categories. Standardization for thousands of foods is on the anvil. Food business operators are certainly anticipating some positive changes in food regulations, which could ease product approval process and food operations.

Concerning the principles or general provisions to be included in basic food law, the following points should be stressed:

  • basic purposes and scope of the law
  • definitions of basic concepts
  • competence for implementation of the law
  • inspection and analytical procedures and facilities
  • enforcement, procedures for enforcement, penalties
  • regulations for additives, pesticides, contaminants
  • packaging and labelling
  • procedures for the preparation and amendment of the regulations for implementation of the law.

The basic food law is intended to assure consumers that foods are pure and wholesome, safe to eat, and produced under sanitary conditions. Generally, food law prohibits importation and distribution of food products that are adulterated, or have labels that are false or misleading in any context.

An important part of the food law is the definition of terms such as food, natural food, imitation food, food additives, adulteration, and food fraud, pesticide residues, food contaminant, and so on.

According to the US Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, a food is illegal (adulterated) if:

  • It contains added poisonous or deleterious (harmful) substances that may render it injurious to health.
  • It contains a natural, poisonous, or deleterious substance which ordinarily renders it injurious to health.
  • A raw agricultural product contains residues of pesticides not authorized by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or in excess of tolerances established by regulations of the US EPA.
  • Any part of the food is putrid or decomposed.

As mentioned earlier in this chapter, regulations implement basic food law. Food regulations generally cover the following:

  • general regulations
  • food standards
  • food hygiene
  • food additives
  • pesticides
  • veterinary drug residues
  • food packaging and labelling
  • food advertising.

 

Registration required for the Food Business Operator, who is a

  • manufactures or sells any article of food himself or a petty retailer, hawker, itinerant vendor or temporary stall holder; or
  • such food business including small scale or cottage or tiny food businesses with an annual turnover not exceeding Rs 12 lakhs and or whose-
    • Production capacity of food (other than milk and milk products and meat and meat products) does not exceed 100 kg/ltr per day or
    • Production or procurement or collection of milk is up to 100 litres of milk per day or
    • Slaughtering capacity is 2 large animals or 10 small animals or 50 poultry birds per day or less than that

 

Laws and regulations are still needed to prevent gross adulteration and contamination. Although the forms of gross adulteration and contamination of foods (e.g., diluting milk with water, adding foreign matters to spices, use of harmful dyes or chemicals to mask defects of quality, and so on) are rare, in developed countries in particular, the adulteration of fruit juices with lower value fruit varieties, or of instant coffees with cereal and malt-based ingredients have occurred in the late twentieth century.

 

Progress so far:

  • Constitution of Authority, scientific Committee, and 8 Expert Panels
  • Notification of Rules and 6 Regulations
  • Transparency in online registration
  • Accreditation of 61 private labs
  • Accreditation of 12 Food Safety Management System agencies
  • 89 Individual for Inspection/ Auditing
  • Food Imports brought under FSS Act- about 75 % of total food imports in country.
  • Surveillance survey- Milk
  • Sampling of food products and prosecution going on in states
  • Action has been taken against false claims/ advertisements

 

CHALLENGES AHEAD:

  • Setting of Food Safety Standards
  • Risk based Assessment
  • Effective Food Born Disease Surveillance System
  • Traceability, Recall and Emergency response system
  • Inform, Educate and Communicate to the consumers
  • Food Safety Management Systems
  • Capacity Building
  • Research and Development

 

REFERENCE LINKS:

  1. http://face-cii.in/sites/default/files/cii_webinar_fss_act__rules.ppt.pdf
  2. http://www.mondaq.com/india/x/244880/food+drugs+law/Laws+Governing+The+Food+Industry+In+India+Revisited
  3. http://lawmin.nic.in/ld/P-ACT/1954/A1954-37.pdf
  4. http://www.old.fssai.gov.in/Portals/0/Pdf/fpoact.pdf
  5. http://lawmin.nic.in/ld/P-ACT/2006/The%20Food%20Safety%20and%20Standards%20Act,%202006.pdf
  6. Image Source: http://lexcalleja.com/food-law/