India releases product recall guidelines for food businesses

By Lester Wan contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India's new guidelines include step-by-step procedures to recall a product if it is found to be unsafe. ©GettyImages
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India's new guidelines include step-by-step procedures to recall a product if it is found to be unsafe. ©GettyImages
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has released a set of guidelines to make sure that food firms have a proper and clear plan to recall a food product if it is found to be unsafe.

This puts the onus of a recall and required procedure on food firms.

The guidelines follow the launch of the Food Safety and Standards (Food Recall Procedure) Regulation—2017, launched in January this year.

These developments come about two and a half years after the recall of Maggi noodles in India due to high lead content.

Around that time, in mid-2015, the FSSAI had proposed a draft regulation on food recall procedure. The draft regulation was made available to the public for their comments suggestions and objections.

The guidelines released includes clear roles and step-by-step procedures to be taken.

According to the guidelines, the FSSAI will monitor the progress of the recall and assess the adequacy of the action taken by the Food Business Operator (FBO).

“After a recall is completed, the Food Authority will make sure that the product is destroyed or suitably improved,”​ it says.

Meanwhile, the FBO carries the main responsibility of implementing the recall, and for ensuring compliance with the recall procedure, including follow-up checks, to ensure that the recalls are successful and that the subsequent batches of food products are safe for consumption.

The FSSAI also said it may review the food license of the firm involved if the recalled food product is related to serious health issues found in consumers.

According to the Food Safety Helpline website by the FSSAI, should the FBO not recall the products, consumers can inform the CEO of FSSAI or the Commissioner of Food Safety of the state or territory, who will take steps to determine the need for a recall and instruct the FBO, which will be bound to comply.

Depending on the extent of the recall, the FBO involved should also inform and update consumers through written communication and the media.

“Sufficient telephone hotline service should be made available to deal with enquiries,”​ the guidelines state.

The FSSAI, as the country’s food industry regulator, has been trying for some time to speed up the process of putting in place a national framework for India on the recall of food products if they are found to be unsafe or defective.

The 2015 ban on Maggi instant noodles sparked a furore and prompted India’s government and authorities to work on better regulations and methods to handle possible further food scares. Then, the FSSAI ordered Nestle to recall all nine of its Maggi noodles variants in the country. 

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