The updates by FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) are regular and consistent for the food industry. They are always available to address any concerns and challenges raised by food business operators regarding their latest guidelines. This shows that they are a proactive government body with genuine concerns towards the health and safety of consumers.
The latest update by FSSAI
The FSSAI, as part of its regular sharing of updates, has released a note that states that Food Businesses in India will henceforth be obligated to conduct mandatory food testing twice a year. This update comes as a ‘clarification’ by the food regulatory body under the condition of licence according to the Food Safety and Standards (Licencing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011.
Stipulated time and frequency for product testing
Under the compliance guidelines, food businesses are required to perform mandatory product testing twice a financial year on a half-yearly basis. Also, two mandatory testings must be conducted within 3 or more months, never less than this duration. The stipulated time provided for the tests are in the first half of the year from April to September and from October to March in the second half, twice every fiscal year.
As per Condition 12 of the Licencing and Registration Rules, food businesses are required to test for relevant chemicals, microbiological contaminants that are included in the regulations. The testing is to be carried out based on required frequency after assessing historical data and risks involved. The products need to be tested through FSSAI’s very own NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) accredited and notified labs.
Food businesses that come under the purview of the updated guidelines
All food businesses that churn out food products as well as manufacturers come under the purview of the updated guidelines. Also, the FSSAI has mentioned that food business operators with newly obtained licences within the last months of the previous half-year during the months of September and March are exempted from mandatory testing for the previous and concluding half-year period.
Motive behind the new regulations
The motive behind FSSAI’s decision was to align with the submission of Annual Returns by Food Business Operators (FBO) online on a financial year basis. The decision is also backed by FSSAI’s goal of ensuring the production and delivery of safe food by manufacturers.
This update comes as a ‘clarification’ by the food regulatory body under the condition of licence according to the Food Safety and Standards (Licencing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations, 2011.
What’s in it for me?
The FSSAI regularly shares policy and regulation updates which promotes transparency in the food service industry. Due to the increasing awareness around food safety in the country, the regulatory body has been very upfront and proactive in keeping food businesses in the loop during the slightest policy changes.
A similar update regarding mandatory testing was shared on FSSAI’s official website early on. But owing to lack of clarity, food operators had sought clarification regarding the timelines of the compliance. There was a confusion regarding the periodicity of ‘Condition 12’ of the FSS Regulations 2011. Food Testing and analysis is a top priority for FSSAI to regulate the food safety ecosystem and in this regard, they have strengthened their food testing laboratory network. FSSAI’s network of laboratories include 232 testing facilities which comprise 142 accredited primary food-testing labs (government and private), 72 state food testing labs and 18 referral labs, two of which come directly under the purview of FSSAI.