The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has issued a notice on its website, on June 20, 2016, in relation to the operationalisation of standards of food additives for use in various food categories. This Notice seeks to substitute Regulation 3.1 of and Appendix A to the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 and has to now be complied with in relation to all food products. The FSSAI has indicated that the Notice is required to be complied with till such time that appropriate amendments are made to the Standards Regulations in relation to the use of food additives. In addition, subsequent to the issue of the Notice, the FSSAI has also issued an order in terms of which it has directed all enforcement officials to implement the provisions of the Notice.
The FSSAI now requires food business operators to determine the food additives, which may be used in food products, on the basis of the details set out in the Notice. Notwithstanding this, the FSSAI has, interestingly enough, stated that all current provisions in relation to food additives, in relation to standardised food products, as set out in the standards in the Standards Regulations, would be suspended (except standards for foods for infant nutrition).
The uncertainties that now arise is whether, firstly, the FSSAI intends to suspend only those provisions which specifically permit the usage of food additives in specific food products, or also such provisions, set out in the specific standards, which expressly prohibit the usage of food additives in such food products; and, secondly, whether food products, in relation to which food additives were neither expressly permitted nor prohibited, may now contain such food additives.
A possible way of looking at this would be that all standardized food products may contain food additives, whether permitted or prohibited by the specific standards, provided that the food additives to be used are as permitted for that food category, in terms of the Notice. Further, those products for which nothing expressly was stated may also contain the permitted food additives. The flip side to this, however, would be that the scope of standardized food products would be altered in its entirety, which in all probability is not what the FSSAI intended.