Licenses for Proprietary Food

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has now set out the meaning and standards for proprietary food products very clearly in the regulations. The FSSAI has, however, not set out the resultant implications in relation to the issue of licenses required for the manufacture of such products.

Proprietary food products, as a concept, have been in existence even prior to the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSSA) being brought into force and effect.

An obvious implication of the new meaning and standards for proprietary food products, that were set out by the FSSAI, was the requirement for food business operators to re-evaluate each of their products and ascertain as to whether they continue to remain proprietary. The FSSAI, however, did not require, by way of any law or order, for these food business operators to reapply or make any changes in relation to the license for the manufacture of the products, if they continued to be proprietary food products.

The FSSAI, has now, recently updated the online licensing system and has set out a separate category for proprietary food products, novel foods, etc. This is an excellent move by the FSSAI as now there is a clear and express route that can be used for applying for a license in relation to the different kinds of food products. The FSSAI, however, did not make any provision for those food products that were granted licenses prior to the online licensing system being updated, nor did the FSSAI provide any clarity for those food business operators who had licenses issued for products, prior to the new meaning and standards being introduced, and which products continued to be proprietary under the new law.

The FSSAI, however, now requires that these issued license holders approach the FSSAI and apply for a modification of their licenses for the reason that the proprietary food products being manufactured are not under the category as required by the updated licensing system and the FSSAI as on today. Whilst there is no order or communication in this regard, food business operators find this being required of them on approaching the FSSAI for modification of their license to include additional products or additional food business activities or while applying for a renewal of their licenses.

The above seems rather unfair to food business operators who are required to make an application for the modification of their licenses and also pay an additional fee in view of a delay on the part of the FSSAI in updating the online licensing system or in providing clarity on the matter. While the intention of the FSSAI cannot be questioned, it should take this particular matter into consideration and and consider it fair to provide a solution to these food business operators or a more efficient manner in which their licenses could be updated.

Hygiene levels of Ice

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has now realised how unhygienic the ice being used for the transportation, preservation and storage of food products is. Ice, many a times, is made from doubtful sources of water and is transported in blocks at the back of cars, lorries, etc., with an unhygienic cloth covering it or sometimes with no covering at all. These are further delivered to their respective destinations by merely leaving the same on the ground, which in most cases could be the side of a public road, which requires no imagination to visualise unhygienic conditions that such blocks of ice go through. To make matters worse, these are also rampantly used and served by not just wayside eateries to unsuspecting consumers.

The FSSAI has understood that the ice blocks being used for the purposes of preservation, storage or transportation of food products, that are perishable, is made from water that is non-potable. Unfortunately, while the FSSAI had prescribed standards for edible ice, there were no standards for ice used in this manner.

The FSSAI, now, in view of the above, has stated, in terms of an order dated April 25, 2017, that any ice or ice blocks used in relation to the preservation, storage or transportation of food or that which comes into contact with the food must comply with the microbiological requirements that have been prescribed and set out for edible ice in the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.

In a time where water borne diseases are rife, this is a positive move by the FSSAI to ensure the safety of ice. The FSSAI should however have also provided for the storage and transportation of such ice or ice blocks as the aforesaid could greatly affect the safety of such ice till such time it is put to its intended use.