Stakeholders Consultative Session on Food Regulatory Affairs : 9th May 2014 : New Delhi

Food safety is becoming a growing global concern with regulatory regimes worldwide being faced with the challenge of minimizing, or rather, curtailing food safety risks.
Recently FSSAI has issued a series of notifications and guidelines, with respect to product approval, licensing and labelling regulations. While the industry appreciates that it is FSSAI’s intention to strengthen the Indian Food Regulatory framework to make it globally competitive, there are significant operating difficulties being faced by the Indian food Industry.
With this background, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) in association with CII, organised an interactive session chaired by Secretary (Health & Family Welfare) and with active participation from FSSAI, to understand the industry perspective and work towards building a more pragmatic approach.  The following key issue were discussed:
1.      Product Approval
·           Inordinate delays in the Product approval process is stopping new product launches, innovations have come to a standstill and the linkage of the Product Approval process with licencing is delaying investments in infrastructure.
·           Intent of Product approval should be focused on novel foods, and, in case where the ingredients are safe then the products prepared from these safe ingredients are deemed to be safe.
·           Scope of Product Approval clearly needs to be rationalized and the processes need to be simplified and transparent.
·           Though the matter is pending in the Mumbai High Court, however, it is proposed to work jointly with the FSSAI, by constituting a joint working group and drafting a list of traditional/commonly consumed foods.
2.      Imports
·           A significant number of import consignments are being held at ports, on labelling issues especially for wholesale and pre-packaged/retail packs and for test consignments for R&D purposes.
3.      Frequent Labelling Changes
·           Owing to frequent labelling changes (e.g licence number, logo, Trans fat declaration) Industry is incurring huge cost, particularly for inventory, as entire inventory is wasted for the whole year, causing huge losses. It is suggested that all the changes to the labelling requirements should be consolidated, streamlined, so as to avoid revisiting the labelling norms repeatedly.