Food safety is a major public health concern. There are specific laws, mandates and regulations in India to maintain the quart of food and to ensure food safety. In fact, there are regulations for ways in which a food product can be promoted. The Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, enacted by the Indian Parliament in August 2006, has a set of regulations and mandates for manufacture, storage, import, sale, and distribution of any food product.
Key Features of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 (FSSA):
Packaging and Labelling
An analysis of the packaging and labelling regulations shows that there are various kinds of products – pre-packaged products, proprietary products and specific products as mentioned in the regulation. The following are the general requirements:
The declaration required under the regulation on the package should be either in Hindi or English.
Pre-packaged food on the label shall not be presented or described on any label or in any manner that is misleading, false or deceptive. This is to stop erroneous impression regarding it character.
Label should be applied in a manner which will prevent separation from the container. Contents on the label shall be prominent, clear, indelible and readily legible by consumers under normal circumstances of purchase and use.
If the container is covered by a wrapper, the necessary information or the label on the container should not be obscured by the wrapper.
Signage and Customer Notice
While the provisions of Food Safety and Standards Act does not specifically provide for regulatory requirements for signage and customer notice, it has provisions for with regard to advertisement of products by food business operators. Section 24 provides that, no person shall engage himself in any unfair trade practice for the purpose of sale, supply, use and consumption of articles of consumption or adopt any deceptive practice of making any statement whether orally or in writing which:
Falsely represent that food is of a quality, quantity, standard or grade consumption Make false or deceptive representation of the usefulness or need for the product Gives public any guarantee of the efficacy that is not based on an adequate or scientific justification.
Licensing Registration and Health and Sanitary Permits
Under the license and registration regulation, the food business operators in the country are required to be compulsorily registered or licensed as per the regulations under Food Safety and Standards Act. So no person shall commence any food business unless a valid license is possessed by the food business operator. The conditions with regard to sanity, safety and hygienic requirements have to be met at all times. These regulations recognise and help ensure that the food business operators maintain sanitary and hygienic conditions required in each food category.
The central government primarily plays an advisory role in its implementation of the Food Safety and Standards Act, although it is enacted by the state governments. The state governments also handle the redressal issues. If the food items are adulterated or misbranded by the manufacturers and marketers, the latter shall be liable to punishment with imprisonment and fine under the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, 1954.
- to protect the public from toxic and harmful food items
- to prevent the sale of food items that are not up to the standards
- to protect the interests of consumers by removing fraudulent practices
The Food Safety and Standards Act lays emphasis on all laws related to food. This includes manufactory, storage, registration, sale and import. It helps make the availability of food safe and wholesome for human consumption.
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