India is set to introduce a new license system in August to cover the country’s food supply chain in a bid to tighten food standards.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will be issuing licenses to all food business operators, from transporters to retailers, permitting them to operate in the country. Firms will need to apply for a license before August 4 2012.
The new requirements are in accordance with the rules under Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006, where all business operators will be obligated to get the license – be it supply companies or small retailers.
Ujjwal Kumar, country head of CQM Quality Management Private Limited, an FSSAI-approved certification body, said that non-compliance with the provisions of the act and its rules would conform to offences and would attract penalties.
These penalties could be up to US$20,000 and a maximum punishment of life imprisonment depending on the nature of the offence, Kumar said, adding that the act will replace all eight other food security acts in this regard.
According to Kumar, agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, dairy, aquaculture, genetically modified food, alcoholic drinks and food additives will be covered under the new rule. Kumar pointed out that government-run food business’ are also covered.
Under new rules, manufacturers will have no freedom to procure any kind additives other than those prescribed while obtaining the license, Kumar said.
Small don’t need to license
Smaller food business operators; those with an annual business turnover of less than US$24,000 do not need to apply for license but will have to still register themselves with the FSSAI, he detailed.
Meanwhile, all other food business operators with an annual turnover of more than US$24,000 will need to apply for a license, Kumar said, and these licenses will only be granted following checks in authorized labs.