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FSSAI looks to legal firms to form new regulatory guidelines

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

FSSAI looks to legal firms to form new regulatory guidelines

Related tags: Food safety, Hypertension

India’s food regulator has sought legal assistance to devise regulations that will govern product approvals, imports and procedures to issue guidelines. 

In a public notice, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has called on legal firms and lawyers that are not involved in litigation against the regulator to apply for the role within a week.

The FSSAI is looking in particular for firms that specialise in food laws, and has specified that the successful applicant must provide an undertaking that it will not enter into any litigation or even offer legal advice against the FSSAI, directly or indirectly, on food-related matters for at least the next five years.

The regulator scrapped its approval process last week after the Supreme Court criticised its procedures two weeks ago in the wake of two recent high-profile cases. As a result, food and healthcare products can now be launched freely in the market. 

It now plans to draw up new regulations within the next six months which will then be sent to parliament for approval, according to Indian media reports.

"In the light of recent judgments of various courts relating to food safety, FSSAI has decided to engage legal assistance for formulation of regulations on an urgent basis to govern (i) product approvals, (ii) imports, and (iii) procedures of issuing guidelines and administrative instructions​," the regulator said in its notice.

Since the court rulings, the FSSAI has withdrawn its role in product approvals, having said this is no longer possible in light of the August Supreme Court decision that it had been operating outside its remit it by issuing countless product advisories.

Over 30% of indians suffering from potbelly abdominal obesity

One-third of Indians suffer from potbelly abdominal obesity, one of the country’s leading heart doctors has said. 

The metabolic syndrome, characterised by abdominal obesity, high triglyceride, low good cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar, is a “new epidemic” for India, Dr KK Aggarwal, president of Heart Care Foundation of India said

“Normal weight obesity is the new epidemic in our country. A person can be obese even if his body weight is within the normal range... Losing weight can reduce snoring, arthritis pain, blood pressure and also check uncontrolled diabetes​. 

The time has come to raise mass awareness about the need to make smarter lifestyle choices to keep diseases such as diabetes, heart attacks and hypertension at bay​.” 

Potbelly obesity is linked to eating refined carbohydrates, which include white rice, refined and bleached wheat flour, and white sugar. 

India and Australia to collaborate on NCD prevention

Public health experts from Australia and India will collaborate on new research concerning non-communicable diseases including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancers in South Asia. 

Brian Oldenburg, project leader of Excellence in Non-Communicable Disease Research said at its launch: “Chronic, non-communicable conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancers have become the leading causes of deaths in the developing world. Today, 80% of these deaths are people from low- and middle-income countries like India​.” 

"To address the burden of chronic conditions, there is an urgent need for more research to improve disease prevention and management​.”

Around 40 doctoral and postdoctoral students from Australia and India will collaborate on the project.

Industry to partner government in promoting Indian brands overseas

India will launch a new fund worth US$7.5m to help Indian brands market themselves more competitively in major overseas markets. 

Piruz Khambatta, chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s food processing branch, said Indian companies would contribute half of this sum, with the government funding the rest. 

One of the major challenges for the industry is brand building and finding a space for Indian products in retail stores globally. Branding is the key aspect for the industry now​,” he said.

To promote Indian brands abroad, the government will extend its Market Development Assistance programme and provide fiscal incentives to the food processing industry.

Official figures indicate that the food processing sector contributes around 9.7% to the manufacturing GDP of India. This sector employs close to 13m people directly and 35m indirectly.

We need to ensure that there is value addition​,” added Rajshree Pathy, chair of the CII’s southern region. “We should reduce wastage, promote crop diversification, generate employment opportunities and increase export earnings.”

Now food ‘self-sufficient’, Bangladesh companies should now focus on nutrition

The speaker of Bangladesh’s parliament, Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, has said the country must focus on nutrition now that the country “has become food self-sufficient”. 

We have met the basic needs, and now we are creating greater awareness and trying to advocate and implement different programmes to meet nutrition​,” said Chaudhury.

The speaker added that nutrition had become a “very comprehensive​” issue, with early marriage and maternal health, maternal mortality, infant mortality and stunted growth each now being linked to malnutrition.

She also called on food businesses to combine their efforts to make nutrition more “cost-effective and easier” by entering into partnership with the government and using state resources to reach out across Bangladesh.

Related topics: Policy, Food safety, South Asia

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