On 17th December, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (“FSSAI”) has released a Consultation Paper on Methodology Licensing proposing a standardised product list approach for application of licenses under the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (“Act”) inviting comments and suggestions from the stakeholders with respect to the following :
- Concordance of food category system and standardised product.
- Whether any standardised product needs to be disaggregated and captured in detail.
- Transition provisions
Comments and suggestions are to be sent to email@example.com by 6th January, 2020.
Presently, for obtaining license, under the provisions of the Act, an applicant has to select a food category system which drills down to 4 digit level after which the applicant has to mention the food product he desires to obtain license for in a text box. In the entire process, though the licensed product is standardised, the description is subjective.
The text box allows the submission of varied description/ nomenclature. The applicant has the flexibility to express the food product in various forms. In such a situation, a novice will find it difficult to determine and understand the category of their food product.
In order to address these issues, the FSSAI has proposed a new standardised method of application of licenses.
- FSSAI has proposed to change the methodology for applying for licenses under the provisions of the Act, Rules and Regulations. The proposed procedure is laid down below:
- The applicant will have to select the food category system up to 2 levels.
- Once the second category is chosen, a menu of standardised products will be displayed from where the applicant has to choose the item for which he desires a license.
- The new standardised products are based on Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2010 (“FSSR”) which contains the detailed description of the standard for food products.
- However, in exceptional cases the description has been slightly modified.
- Mapping of food category system with standardised food products have been attempted as per the FSSR.
- The license obtained by the applicant will display the name of the food product along with the corresponding food category at best level.
- Implication of the new system:
Ø The new system is a self-regulation approach. When a Food Business Operator (“FBO”) opts and selects a standardised product for which he obtains the license, it becomes obligated to manufacture only those products which are standardised as per the description of the FSSR.
Ø The onus falls on the FBO to prove that the product manufactured by him is a standardised product and falls under the domain of the product for which license has been obtained.
Ø In the event of non-conformity of a product with its standards, it will be deemed that the FBO is manufacturing without license and will be liable under Section 63 (offences by companies) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and the Rules made thereunder.
- In order to implement the new policy, the FBOs will be required to migrate/ get their licenses modified or amended according to new standardised product list once the previous license requires renewal.
- The linguistic meaning of standardised products should not be considered. The meaning of the expressions should be construed as per the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulation, 2011, Food Safety and Standards (Alcoholic Beverages) Regulation, 2018.
- The proposed system will enhance the harmonisation of the practices followed across India and will rightly enforce the One Nation One Food Law notion.
- The requirement of endorsement of individual products is done away with.
- The transition will enhance the ease of doing business for food business operators in India.
- The procedure of licensing will become quicker and simpler.
Please note that the change in methodology of licensing does not require any legislative change. It will only require a change in online licensing system to display the mapped standardised product list. However, a new food category system has been created only for the purpose of licensing and is not statutory in nature.
The proposed mapping of products has been annexed with the Notification.