The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 is a comprehensive and modern piece of legislation and a step towards the consolidation of different food laws explains Saurabh Sharma
The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, or as it is generally called FSSAI Act, was passed by both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and received the assent of the President on 23rd August 2006. The Act is a comprehensive and modern piece of legislation and a step towards the consolidation of different food laws. It aims at the elimination of multi-level and multi-departmental control. The Act repeals the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act,1954 and the following Orders:
- Fruits Products Order,1955
- Meat Food Products Order,1947
- Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation)Order,1998
- Solvent Extracted Oil, De-oiled meal and Edible Flour Order,1967
- Milk and Milk Products Order,1992
- Any other Order issued under the Essential Commodities Act,1955(10 of 1955) relating to food.
- The Act establishes the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (hereinafter called the Food Authority). Food Authority shall consist of a Chairperson and twenty-two members out of which one- third shall be women. The act provides for the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer who shall be the legal representative of the Food Authority and responsibility for the day to day administration of the Authority.
- The Act requires the Food Authority to prepare an annual report of its activities and forward the same to the Central Government and the State Governments. Act empowers the Central Government to issue directions to the Food Authority on the matters of policy and in obtaining reports and returns.
- The Food Authority and State Food Authority (appointed by State Government) shall be responsible for the enforcement of the act. Act provides for appointment of Commissioner of Food Safety, Designated Officers, Food Safety Officers and Food Analysts for implementation of the act.
- Act prescribes graded penalties depending on the gravity of offence and accordingly civil penalties for minor offences and punishment for serious violations.
The act enables the establishment of a Food Safety Appellate Tribunal consisting of one person as a Presiding Officer to be appointed by the Central or State Government as the case may be. An appeal against the decision or order of the Food Safety Appellate Tribunal may be filed before High Court within sixty days from the date of communication of the decision or order of the tribunal.
- The act empowers the Central Government to give directions to the State Government for carrying out provisions of the Act and to remove any difficulty that may arise in the implementation of the act.
The objective of the FSSAI Act
The objective of the FSSAI Act is to consolidate the laws relating to food and to curb Food Adulteration by prescribing higher penalties for violation of food laws. It will also establish a Food Safety Management System for ensuring availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India will also be established for enforcing the food safety standards.
The FSSAI Act aims at meeting the dynamic requirements of the Indian Food Industry/Trade and International Trade. The reform process of the country’s Food Safety Administration comes in the wake of India’s potential to garner a higher share in increasing World Food Trade. The advent of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has led to increasing recognition and adoption of Food Safety measures. The Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 ushers in new concepts such as Food Safety, Food Safety Management Systems and Food Safety Audit. The Act also introduces concepts like Risk Analysis, Risk Assessment and Risk Management. The Act is a comprehensive and modern piece of legislation that intends to ensure movement from multi-level and multi-departmental control to an integrated line of command. The objects of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 go far beyond the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA), 1954. The Act establishes Food Safety and Standards Authority (an independent authority with statutory power) which replaces the Central Committee of Food Standards which is only an advisory body under the PFA Act,1954. Further, the Act unlike the PFA Act,1954 provides for the Licencing and Regulation of Food Business Operators. The Act apart from making stringent provisions (e.g. prescribing higher penalties etc.) to curb Food Adulteration also ushers in new concepts such as putting in place Food Safety Management Systems to ensure the availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.
However, Small and Medium-scale industries that do not have the technical expertise to track the regulatory changes may find it difficult to identify the procedural and compliance changes brought in by the Act. Thus, there is need for conducting awareness/training programmes for Industry. Further, the Act suggests much stiffer monetary penalties for violations which may be a point of concern for Indian Food Players.
Nevertheless, the Act apart from being a step towards the consolidation of Food Laws aims at laying down scientific standards for food articles, to regulate the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and to ensure the availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.