About the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSS Act)
The government of India passed the Food Safety and Standards Act or the FSS Act on 23rd of August, 2006. Under this FSS Act, FSSAI, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India was established. Meant to carry out operations related to setting the standards of food articles. This step changed the way businesses involved in food articles were being monitored in India.
Every year, millions fall ill and many die as a result of consuming unsafe food. Properly prepared food prevents most of the foodborne diseases. Infections caused by consuming unsafe food have a bigger impact on infants, elderly, etc., and people with poor & fragile health. The considerations of the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006, include the origins of food and the practices of food labeling, food hygiene, food additives, and contaminants, as well as policies on biotechnology and guidelines for the management of import and export, inspection and certification systems for foods.
The standards set by FSSAI are based on scientific research. They help regulate the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, import-export, and other stages of all types of food articles being made available to the general population. FSSAI certifies Food Business Operators (FBOs) that their activities produce food safe for consumption by human beings. This certification is known as FSSAI registration or Food License.
Food Safety and Standards as per FSSA Act
Food safety is a shared responsibility between governments, producers, industry, consumers, and academia. Health economics, and human and veterinary medicine. Local communities, school education, and women’s groups, also play an important role. We as consumers must be well informed on food safety methods, make informed choices and adopt adequate practices. We should be well aware of common food hazards, handle food safely, and follow the information provided in food labeling.
- Food Safety is defined as an “assurance that food is acceptable for human consumption according to its intended use.” Food Safety is very important for maintaining overall health and wellbeing. It ensures that food is safe for human consumption. Involving handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness.
- It is crucial to prevent microbes and contaminants from getting into foods and water. Not only do they cause diseases, but they also destroy valuable nutrients in the food.
- Food may get contaminated at any of the many stages of the food supply chain. The chain includes on-farm production, harvesting, processing, storage, transportation, distribution, etc. Even before reaching the consumers. Besides, globalization has made the food supply chain longer and complicated investigations into the food-borne disease outbreak and/or food recall.
- Food contamination undermines food exports, tourism, livelihoods of food handlers and economic development, both in developed and developing countries.
- Food safety is multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary. Requiring the skills of different professionals, governmental departments & agencies, making use of the best available science and technologies, and engage with consumer groups.
What is Unsafe Food
Unsafe Food has been defined by the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSS Act), 2006 as that item of food whose nature, substance or quality is so affected as to render it injurious to health (wholly or in part), by:
- the item itself, or its package, of poisonous or harmful substance; or
- it consisting some filthy, putrid, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal substance or vegetable substance; or
- unhygienic processing; or
- substitution with an inferior or cheaper substance; or
- adding a forbidden substance directly or as an ingredient; or
- abstracting of any of its constituents; or
- coloring/flavoring/coating/powdering/polishing to make it appear better or of greater value than it actually is; or
- presence of any coloring ingredient or preservatives other than specified; or
- it being infected or infested with worms, weevils, or insects; or
- it being prepared, packed or kept under insanitary conditions; or
- misbranded or sub-standard or food containing an extraneous matter; or
- containing pesticides and other contaminants more than quantities specified by regulations.
Background of Food Safety and Standards Act
Before the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, multiple laws and legislation existed regarding food. There was a lack of uniformity in the various Ministries/organizations/agencies for setting standards and their enforcement.
This Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 was enacted as a consolidated Act. And the following food acts and orders were repealed
- Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
- Fruit Products Order, 1955
- Meat Food Products Order, 1973
- Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947
- Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1998
- Solvent Extracted Oil, De-oiled Meal, and Edible Flour (Control) Order, 1967
- Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992
- Any other order under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 concerning food items
This Act was passed to ensure a holistic approach, uniformity and effective implementation. Bring a single law with a single regulatory body at the national level on all food safety and related matters. To match the rapid evolution of food-related technologies and advancement in production, storage, distribution, sale, etc. To better information dissemination to the consumer level.
Main Features of the FSS Act, 2006
Implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Act envisages regulation of the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import of food to ensure its safety and wholesomeness. So the line of control got shifted from multi-level to single one, with a focus on self-compliance rather than a pure regulatory regime. FSSAI is the single reference point for food safety, standards and wholesome/ nutritious foods, regulations, and enforcement.
- Same Act is applicable throughout India. Providing uniform regimes for providing Food License.
- It also offers an integrated response to strategic issues like Novel foods, genetically modified (GM) foods, international trade, etc.
- Licensing for food products got decentralized. States have been empowered to issue Basic Registration and State License.
- Effective, transparent and accountable regulatory framework with well-defined functions, powers, and responsibilities of different food authorities, bodies and committees.
- Gradual shift from regulatory regime to self-compliance emphasized.
- Regulation of import of food in the country
- Proper procedure for food recall.
- Enhance the network of food laboratories.
- Fast track disposal of cases.
- Penalties and fines.
- Consists of domestic and international food policy measures, as well as ensuring safeguards to public health and consumer protection.
- Several consumer & FBO awareness programs undertaken.
Chapters of the Food Safety and Standards Act
This FSS Act is organized through a total of 12 Chapters. They discuss in detail the impact, regulations, authorities that the Act carries with it to empower the safety of food products. A brief description is given below:
Chapter I: Preliminary
Preliminary basically consists of the Short Title, introduction, extent and commencement, and Definitions. It declared that the Union is taking the food industry under its control for the purpose of public interest. And that the applicability of the FSS Act will be throughout India.
Chapter II: FSSAI
This Chapter, containing Sections 4 to 17, provides to establish the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. The terms and conditions of appointment, removal of Chairman, the members, officers, and other employees. Their terms of office, other conditions, and functions. Establishment of the Central Advisory Committee and its functions, Scientific Panels and the Scientific Committee. Their functions and their procedures. The functions and responsibilities of the Food Authority to regulate and monitor the manufacture, processing, distribution, sale, and import of food. The procedures for the conduct of meetings, the transaction of business at its meetings and procedure of voting by Members, etc.
The food authority is to have a Chairperson and 22 other members in it. Out of which, at least, on-third must be women. The work tenure of the chairperson is 3-years, extendable by another 3-years.
Additionally, it mentions the headquarters of FSSAI in the capital city of New Delhi. And 6 other regional FSSAI offices based in other zones.
|Region||Address||E-mail ID||Contact Number||Area of Jurisdiction|
|Head Office||FDA Bhawan near Bal Bhavan, Kotla Road, New Delhi|
|Northern||First Floor, NBCC Place, Bhisham Pitamah Marg, Pragati Vihar, New Delhi||[email protected]||011-24369456||Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh|
|South||2nd Floor, Central Documentation Complex (South Wing), Chennai Port Trust, Rajaji Salai Chennai||[email protected]||044-25223212, 25223213||Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and UTs of Puducherry, Lakshadweep|
|Eastern||Benfish Tower, 6th floor, 31 G N Block, Sector-V, Salt Lake, Kolkata||[email protected]||Telefax: 033-23573043||States of West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Sikkim, A & N Islands|
|Western||902, Hallmark Business Plaza, Opp. Guru Nanak Hospital, Bandra (E), Mumbai||[email protected],|
Tel: 022-22617672, 26420961, 27470708
|Maharashtra, Gujarat, , Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli,Daman & Diu|
|North-Eastern||6th Mile, Milan Path, Juripar, Panjabari Road Guwahati-781037 Assam||[email protected]||0361-2332446||Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura|
Chapter III: General Principles of Food Safety
This chapter contains provisions from Section-18 on
- The general policies of Food Safety,
- Factors to be considered while framing statutes,
- Defining the Standards under the Act,
- The systems to be observed while administering the regulations of the Act by all government authorities,
- To achieve a suitable level of protection of human life and health along with the protection of the customer’s interests including fair practices in all kinds of food trade concerning food safety standards and practices.
- That in specific circumstances, where, based on an assessment of available information, the possibility of ill effects on health has been detected but scientific uncertainty still persists. Provisional risk management measures for appropriate safety should be deployed until concrete scientific evidence and proper risk assessment hasn’t been conducted.
- If there are reasons to suspect that food may present a risk for human health, then the Food Authority and the Commissioner of Food Safety shall take appropriate steps to inform the general public. About the nature of the risk to health, identifying to the fullest extent possible the food or type of food, the risk that it may present, and the steps which are taken or about to be taken to prevent, minimize or eliminate that risk. Depending on the nature, gravity, and extent of that risk,
- If a food, found not in compliance with the provisions, is part of a batch, lot or consignment of food of the same class or description, it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, that all of the food in that batch/lot/consignment shall also fail to comply with those requirements.
- Provisions on enforcing or implementing the provisions of the Act.
These authorities shall be guided by the general principles of Food Safety such as transparent public consultation, protection of consumer interests, risk analysis, risk assessment, risk management, risk communication, etc.
It empowers the Food Authority to keep updating general principles from time to time as per the requirements.
It, further, stipulates that this Act & its provisions shall not apply to any farmer, or fisherman or farming operations or crops or livestock or aquaculture, and supplies used or produced in farming or products of crops produced by a farmer at farm level or a fisherman in his operations.
Chapter IV: General Provisions on Articles of Food
This chapter contains Sections-19 to 24. And stipulates:
- Section – 19 on Use of Food Additives or Processing Aids: No food item shall contain any food additive or processing aid unless it follows the provisions of this Act.
- Section – 20 on Contaminants, Toxic Substances & Heavy Metals: No article of food shall contain contaminants, naturally occurring toxic substances, toxins, hormones, heavy metals, etc. exceeding the quantities as may be specified by the regulations.
- Section – 21 on Pesticides, Veterinary Drugs, Antibiotic Residue, Microbiological Counts: No article of food shall contain insecticides or pesticide residues, veterinary drug residues, antibiotic residues, solvent residues, pharmacologically active substances and microbiological counts exceeding the quantities as may be specified by the regulations.
- Section – 22 Modified Foods, Organic Foods Functional Foods & Proprietary Foods: No person shall manufacture, distribute, sell or import any novel food, genetically modified articles of food, irradiated food, and foods for special dietary uses, functional foods, organic foods, nutraceuticals, health supplements, proprietary foods and such other articles of food as restricted or not matching the standards prescribed under the regulations. The Central Government keeps updating the list.
- Section – 23 on Packaging and Labelling of Foods: Every FBO shall ensure that the labeling and presentation of food, including their shape, appearance or packaging, the packaging materials used, how they are arranged and the setting in which they are displayed, and the information which is made available about them through whatever medium, does not mislead consumers. No person shall manufacture/distribute/sell/expose for sale/despatch/deliver to any agent/broker for the sale, for any packaged food products which are not marked and labeled in the manner as may be specified by regulations.
- Section – 24 about Restrictions on Advertisement & Prohibition of unfair trade practices: No advertisement shall be made of any food which misleads or deceives or contravenes this Act. No person to get engaged in any unfair trade practice to promote the sale, supply, use, and consumption of articles of food or adopt any unfair or deceptive practice including making any statement, whether orally or in writing or by visible representation. And falsely represent that the food is of a particular quality, quantity, standard, or grade-composition. Or makes a false or misleading representation concerning its usefulness or need or giving of any guarantee of the efficacy that is not based on an adequate or scientific justification thereof.
Chapter V: Provisions Related to Import
This chapter contains only Section – 25.
- No person shall import, into the country, any unsafe or misbranded or sub-standard food or food containing extraneous matter or any article of food for the import of which a license is required under any Act or rules or regulations, except complying with the conditions of the license and any article of food in contravention of any other provision of this Act or any rule or regulation made thereunder or any other Act.
- The Central Government shall, while prohibiting, restricting or otherwise regulating the import of food article, follow the standards laid down under the FSS Act. Under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992 (22 of 1992),
Chapter VI: Special Responsibility of Food Safety
Chapter VI of the Food Safety and Standards Act, containing Sections – 26 to 28, provides for the responsibilities of FBOs. They are responsible to ensure that only safe food products are delivered to the consumers. These are divided into 3 broad categories under the FSS Act. These are as follows:
- Responsibilities of the FBO to ensure that the articles of food satisfy the requirements of the Act at all stages of production, processing, import, distribution, and sale within the businesses under his control.
- Liability of Manufacturers, packers, wholesalers, distributors, and sellers for conforming to the food safety requirements of the Act
- Food Recall Procedures and the responsibilities of an FBO to withdraw the Food from the market in case the same is non-compliant with the provisions of the Act (u/s – 28).
Chapter VII: Enforcement of the Food Safety and Standards Act
Chapter 7 entails Sections 29 to 42 of the Act. The efficient enforcement and compliance with the safety rules for food items being made available to the general population. It also describes the authorities and the officers responsible to enforce the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act. The enforcement of the Act through regulatory bodies and officers allocated towards food safety has been divided by the Central government as follows.
- Authorities responsible for enforcement of the Act.
- Responsibilities of the Food Authority and the State Food Authorities.
- Commissioner of Food Safety of the State.
- Provisions for a meeting with Commissioner of Food Safety of the State.
- Certifying the Business with Food License.
- Improvement Notices.
- Emergency or Prohibition Notice and Orders.
- Notification of Food Poisoning.
- Designated Officers & Food Safety Officers (FSO) appointments, responsibilities, powers & liabilities.
- Powers of FSOs.
- Liability of FSOs.
- Food Analysis from Purchaser.
- Power of search, inspection, seizure, investigation, prosecution and procedure thereof.
- Procedure for launching Prosecution.
- Provision for a customer to have food analysed.
Chapter VIII: Analysis of Food under Food Safety and Standards Act
Sections 43 to 47 included in this Chapter 8 in the Food Safety and Standards Act, lays down the procedures and the intricacies involved with checking and analyzing the food products which have been shipped for consumption by a large public. The detailed procedure to analyze food has the following provisions:
- Recognizing & accrediting laboratories, research institutions, and referral food laboratory,
- Recognition of Organisation or agency of audits on food safety,
- Food Analysts & their functions,
- Sampling and Analysis.
Chapter IX: Offences and Penalties
Chapter 9, consisting of Sections 48 to 67, of the Food Safety and Standards Act, lays down the foundation for and the provisions for the non-compliance of the food businesses to deliver safe food to consumers. It comprises of a comprehensive list of offenses and penalties imposed thereof on the violators of the regulations. It contains provisions for punishment for:
- selling food, not of nature/substance/quality demanded,
- sub-standard food,
- misbranded food,
- misleading advertisement,
- food containing extraneous matter,
- failure to comply with the directions of FSOs,
- unhygienic or unsanitary manufacturing or processing of food,
- possessing adulterant,
- contraventions for which no specific penalty is provided,
- unsafe food,
- interfering with seized items.,
- false information,
- obstructing or impersonating a Food Safety Officer (FSO),
- contravention of provisions of this Act for import of articles of food to be in addition to penalties provided under any other Act,
- Offenses by companies,
- Compensation for injury or death of consumer,
- carrying out a business without a license,
- subsequent offenses.
Chapter X: Adjudication and Food Safety Appellate Tribunal
Comprising of Sections 68 to 80, the state governments are authorized to notify the adjudicating officer in the district, under this Chapter.
The Food Safety Appellate Tribunal handles matters relating to offenses committed in violation of any of the regulations directed and laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Act of 206. The functions of the Food Safety Appellate tribunal and how adjudication is made on the matters related to negligence of Food Safety are defined as:
- Power to compound offenses.
- Establishment of Food Safety Appellate Tribunal.
- Procedure and powers of the Tribunal.
- Power of court to try cases summarily.
- Barring the jurisdiction of courts in the matters in which the adjudicating officer or Tribunal has been empowered by the Act.
- Transfers to Special courts and Public Prosecutor.
- Power to transfer cases to regular courts.
- Time limit for prosecutions.
- Power of court to implead manufacturer etc.
- Magistrate’s power to impose enhanced punishment.
- Defences that may or may not be allowed while prosecuting under this Act.
Chapter XI: Finance, Accounts, Audit, and Reports
This section of the Food Safety and Standards Act, containing Sections 81 to 84, basically deals with financing, maintaining of books, audits and audit reports of entities involved in the food business activities as also the Food Authority. Provisions listed out in this chapter have the following stipulations:
- Budget of the Food Authority.
- Its estimated receipts and expenses.
- Its Finances.
- Its Accounts and Audit of Food Authority.
- Annual Report of Food Authority, to be laid before each House of Parliament.
Based on which, the Central Government shall make grants of such some of money as it deems fit.
Chapter XII: Miscellaneous
This chapter, containing Sections 85 to 101, empowers the Central Government to:
- issue directions to Food Authority
- give directions to State Governments and obtain reports and returns
- Members, officers of Food Authority and Commissioner of Food Safety as public servants
- Protection of action taken in good faith
- Overriding all other food-related laws with this Act.
- To make rules & regulations
- Transferring existing employees under various foods related Acts or Orders to the Food Authority
- Power of Food Authority to make regulations
- Power of State Government to make rules
- Laying of rules and regulations before Parliament
- Procedure for Reward by State Government
- Recovery of penalty
- Repeal and Savings
- Transitory provisions for food standards
- Power to remove difficulties.
There are two Schedules at the end of the Act. While the First Schedule contains the five zones under which all the States and UTs have been grouped, the Second Schedule contains the Act and various orders which stand repealed with the coming into force of this Act.
There are other laws like BIS and AG MARK relating to Food. These laws are covered in Annexure-1.
The Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011
In exercising the powers conferred by the Act, the Central Government notified the Food Safety and Standards Rules in 2008 regulating the salaries, allowances and other services of Chairperson and Members (not ex officio Members of Food Authority). Subsequently, the Central Government came up with comprehensive Food Safety and Standards Rules 2011 to regulate various subjects of the Act.
The Food Safety and Standards Act (FSS Act), 2006 under Section 92 provides that the Food Authority may make regulations consistent with this Act and the Rules made thereunder to carry out the provisions of this Act, with the previous approval of the Central Government and after previous publication, by notification. The matters are listed below:
- salaries and other conditions of employment of officers and other employees of the Food Authority,
- rules of procedure for transaction of business,
- other functions of the Central Advisory Committee,
- procedure of Scientific Committee and Panels,
- notifying standards and guidelines about articles of food meant for human consumption,
- procedure to be followed by Food Authority for transacting business at its meetings,
- making or amending regulations because of urgency concerning food safety or public health,
- limits of additives,
- limits of quantities of contaminants, toxins, and heavy metals, etc.,
- tolerance limit of pesticides, veterinary drugs residues, etc.,
- the manner of marking and labeling of foods,
- form in which guarantee shall be given,
- conditions and guidance relating to food recall procedures,
- regulations relating to the functioning of FSO,
- notify the registering authority and the manner of FSSAI registration, making an application for obtaining a license, the fees payable therefore and the circumstances under which such license may be canceled or forfeited,
- the areas in which the Designated Officer shall be in charge of food safety administration,
- process of getting food analyzed, details of fees, etc.,
- functions & procedure to be followed by various laboratories,
- procedure to be followed by officials,
- financial regulations to be followed by the Food Authority in drawing up its budget,
- issue guidelines & directions for participating in Codex Meetings and preparing a response to Codex-related matters; and
- any other matter which may be required to be specified by regulations or in respect of which provision is to be made by regulations.
Important Statutes of Food Safety and Standards Act
The Food Authority has from time to time brought out several Regulations to regulate the subjects mentioned in Section 92 of the FSS Act. To properly exercise the powers conferred by the Act. Some important Regulations are given below:
- Food Safety & Standards Authority of India Business Transaction Regulations, 2010.
- Food Safety & Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulation, 2011.
- Food Safety & Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulation, 2011.
- Food Safety & Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulation, 2011.
- Food Safety & Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulation, 2011.
- Food Safety & Standards (Laboratory and Sampling Analysis) Regulation, 2011.
- Food Safety & Standards (Food or Health Supplements, Nutraceuticals, Foods for Special Dietary Uses, Foods for Special Medical Purpose, Functional Foods and Novel Food) Regulations, 2016.
- Food Safety & Standards (Food Recall Procedure) Regulation, 2017.
- Food Safety & Standards (Import) Regulation, 2017.
The Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006 has ensured that a comprehensive analysis of every food item, being made available, is carried out with the safety and health of the consumers carrying the paramount importance.
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The Act, FSSA or Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, was enacted to keep up with changing needs of the time, to consolidate the laws relating to food and to establish the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, FSSAI. This Act was required to bring a single statutory body for food laws, standards-setting, and enforcement. To establish a single point of authority. So that there is no confusion in the minds of investors, manufacturers, traders, and consumers, that existed earlier due to the multiplicity of food laws.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India or FSSAI was established on 5th September 2008, under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
The objectives of establishing the Food Authority are:
(i) laying down science-based standards for articles of food
(ii) to regulate the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, and import, etc. of food
(iii) to promote food safety.
The priorities of the FSSAI are to lay down standards for articles of food based on science. And to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, and import, to ensure that safe and wholesome food is available for human consumption.
The Headquarter is in Delhi at -FDA Bhawan near Bal Bhavan, Kotla Road, New Delhi.
The representative of the consumer organizations are members of the Food Authorities and its Central Advisory Committee. The public may get samples of food analyzed on payment of certain fees. In case of injury or death of someone due to the consumption of low-grade food, FSSAI provides for compensation to the consumer.
FSSAI takes out several drives to increase awareness about food safety with FBOs. It coordinates training with the help of accredited agencies/universities.