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FSSAI extends licence deadline again after 1 in 15 businesses register

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Related tags Food safety Food Bharatiya janata party

India’s food regulator has been forced to push back its company registration deadline after just 3.3m out of 50m businesses obtained a licence.

Under Indian regulations, food manufacturers cannot operate without a licence. The process for securing these began in August 2011, though deadlines have since been extended a number of times.

Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, decided to extend the deadline for a further three months after its February 4 cut-off.

We had a consultation with the all food safety commissioners; there was a generic view that there should not be any further extension but we considered that they may still be some left-out businesses who have not obtained licences​,” conceded Agarwal.

Pleading with businesses to meet the new deadline, he said that the registration process was essential for India to meet international food safety practices, and the FSSAI should not be seen as an adversary to the food industry.

There is absolutely no way that a regulator, even with the help of enforcement machinery at state level, would be able to ensure food safety [if companies are not licensed],​” he said

Changing the FSSAI’s perception might pose a challenge, however, after the regulator endured a fraught year in 2015, in which it played a prominent role in the Maggi noodles affair, and was censured by the Supreme Court for overplaying its authority through a series of arbitrary regulatory notifications.

Agarwal also highlighted the need for food processors to begin printing licence numbers on their labels. The FSSAI had implemented a December 31 for this after a series of extension, though he said many companies had still not adopted the practice.

More stories from South Asia…

Minister renews calls for FDI in multi-brand food retail

India’s food processing minister has again called for foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail for food items grown in India as a means to create jobs and drive down inflation.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal

Addressing an industry event in New Delhi, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a leading campaigner for foreign investment, said she had assured the prime minister that FDI would “give the push and the thrust to create that infrastructure which will help the industry prosper​”.

This is in the interest of both consumers and farmers as it will bring down food inflation create more jobs and lead to rapid infrastructure development​,” said Badal.

Citing an “urgent need​” to promote policies that give a boost to the food processing sector, the minister said FDI in multi-brand retail had already been implemented across India to the benefit of farmers and traders. This, she urged, should be extended to food items to attract foreign companies to India.

The globally established brands and multinational companies will promote technology transfer, something which has been missing in India due to lack of infrastructure​,” Badal said, adding that such a move would also reduce inflation and wastage.

With government figures suggesting that almost 16% of farm produce, worth over Rs92,000 crore (US$13bn), is wasted each year due to lack of infrastructure, the minister stressed the need for demand-driven agricultural policies and and supply chain development.

She also highlighted the ruling Bharatiya Janata party’s record in promoting food manufacturing. Compared to just two new food parks in six years under the previous Congress-led government, the BJP had implemented three “mega food parks” in its first year in power, Badal said.

She added that four more had been planned to open by the end of this year, to be followed by a further four or five parks in 2017.

Coca-Cola suspends manufacturing in three Indian plants

Coca-Cola India's bottling arm Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages has confirmed it has suspended manufacturing at its Kaladera plant in Rajasthan, while media reports suggest other plants in Andhra Pradesh and Meghalaya have also stopped production.


The temporary halt is due to flagging sales, the company said in a statement.

"Like with any other manufacturing organisation, we are going through a process of consolidation where new state-of-the art facilities are being built and existing production capacities are being optimised​,” it said regarding the Kaladera plant.

"These decisions are taken in keeping with plant capacity utilisation considerations, based on the market demands and projections​.”

While manufacturing at Kaladera has been suspended, the company said all of the plant’s other operations would continue. 

We also retain the licence to produce at this plant, which is testimony to the fact that should there be a change in demand and volume, we may utilise this latent capacity at the Kaladera plant​," it said. 

According to a PTI report which claimed that production at Coca-Cola’s Vishakhapatnam and Brynihat had also stopped, the disruptions may affect at least 300 employees.

HCCB operates 54 plants in India which produce a range of soft drinks including Coca-Cola, Thums Up, Fanta, Limca, Sprite and Maaza. 

In 2012, the company announced plans to invest US$5bn in India by 2020 on a range of activities including new bottling plants.

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