8 laws were consolidated to form the FSSA, 2006 – Food Safety and Standards Act came in as a solution to the rising chaos in the divided food industry. For its growth and uniformity in the standards, this step was necessary. Thus in August 2006, after this revolutionary step, the formation of the apex food monitoring and governing authority called Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) was seen by the country.
More than a decade later, Indian Food Industry still abides by the FSSA 2006. Many modifications, changes and additions in the amendments later and still occur with the changing conditions of the food market.
But what is FSSA, 2006? What makes the FSSA 2006? What are the different topics that are covered in this extensive government document? How did it aid in the formation of Food Safety Standards Rules, 2011?
Let’s understand in-depth – Food Safety Standards Act, 2006.
We shall consider each chapter and briefly understand its components.
1. Chapter 1 – Preliminary: It defines the technical terms, the authority of the Gazette and the exceptions that need to be included in terms of excluded states.
2. Chapter 2 – Establishment of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India: It speaks about The Chair, The Committee, the powers of the Authority, Terms, and Removal, as well as the functions of all the Panels thus formed.
3. Chapter 3 – General Principles of Food Safety: This chapter focuses on the principles of food safety that should be followed by the Government, the agencies, and the Food Authority, with respect to enhancing the food safety in the country. These include the generic steps that can aid in safety, developing/creating amendments as required, considerations that should be looked into and exclusions in terms of occupations, not under the Act.
4. Chapter 4 – General Provisions as to Articles of Food: This chapter speaks in depth about the different food articles, processing aids, and their use in accordance with the Act. These also include the different additives, contaminants, toxins, metals, Genetically Modified Foods, etc. Added in this chapter, is a provision for Packaging and Labeling of food products, certain definitions, and restrictions related to advertisements and unfair trade processes.
5. Chapter 5 – Provisions relating to Import: A small part is dedicated to rules to be followed whilst importing any food product in the country.
6. Chapter 6 – Special Responsibilities as to Food Safety: It describes the duties of any core Food Business Operator and those indirectly related to the business. It speaks about the practices and rules one should follow and the precautions that should be taken. It also highlights, individually, the responsibilities of each stakeholder in the Food Industry (Manufacturers, Retailers, Distributors) as well as the Recall Process that should be followed in case of non-compliance found.
7. Chapter 7 – Enforcement of the Act: It is an extensive chapter that speaks about invoking the Act and the Authorities that are entrusted with the responsibility of exercising the procedure specified in the Act. It explains in depth
– The duties and powers of The Commissioner of Food Safety and personnel under it,
– the mandated license, and registration of the food business,
– issuing improvement notices to the non-complying Food Business owners,
– issuing prohibition orders,
– information on food poisoning cases in the area, and
– Legal powers of prosecution and investigation
8. Chapter 8 – Analysis of Food: This section covers the importance of NABL Accredited and FSSAI Notified Laboratories with respect to testing of Food products. It mentions about the powers vested in the Food Authority for framing regulations in case of notifying an organisation for conducting Audits, appointing Food Analysts, duties of a food safety officer, rules for sampling and analysis of the product picked from the market, analysis of the imported food items and the entire process that should be followed by concerned authorities.
9. Chapter 9 – Offences and Penalties: An important aspect of regulations and law, offences, and penalties have to be carefully, but effectively dealt with. This chapter specifies under what conditions is the Food Business owner liable to be brought under the scanner. It mentions the penalties for selling sub-standard or poor quality food product, showing misleading advertisements, food containing extraneous matter, unhygienic or unsanitary processing, adulteration, unsafe food manufacture or distribution and such related offences, including the death of any customer.
10. Chapter 10 – Adjudication and Food Safety Appellate Tribunal: It mentions the appointment, duties, and role of the appointed officer under the situation of an offence. It also highlights the powers of the compounding officer(s) and the process once the suspected FBO is proved to have committed the offence.
It then gives us a gist of the hearing process for the offence committed and the establishment of the Food Safety Appellate Tribunal. It bifurcates the laws and the authorities of the civil jurisdiction and the Tribunal in the case of a food safety non-compliance. We can also see the mention of the special courts in the case of immediate proceedings needed, along with other aspects like appeal, time period and so on.
11. Chapter 11 – Finance, Accounts, Audits, and Reports: This speaks about the budget, audits and the annual report as structured by the Food Authority.
12. Chapter 12 – Miscellaneous: It mentions the authority of the State and Central Government, Transfer orders, penalties’ recoveries, etc. A special mention of Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992 is made here as well. More such aspects are finally explained which marks the end of the chapters.
The zones of the country are then mentioned in Sections, followed by the 8 Laws which when consolidated, for FSSA, 2006.
The Food Law has given way to many regulations and since it’s inception, many amendments and inclusions are made for enhancing the food standards. It laid the foundation of streamlined food standards in the country to be followed and improvised in the future.