1. Agriculture World

FSSAI Given Additional Powers by Government; Extends Jurisdiction over Animal Feed Sector

Abhijeet Banerjee
Abhijeet Banerjee
Animal feed sector

In another important development in the Agricultural sector, the Central Government has decided to provide additional powers to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which is apex regulatory authority for food safety in India. The FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety. It is headed by a non-executive Chairperson, appointed by the Central Government, either holding or has held the position of not below the rank of Secretary to the Government of India. The foremost responsibility of FSSAI include the development of Science-based Food Standards for articles of food and food products and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. The government has now extended its jurisdiction over animal feed, and also raised the penalties imposed for violations, in addition to simplifying the various processes, involved in the regulations. 

The decision taken by the ministry of health and family welfare involves introducing 70 amendments in the 2006 Act in order to strengthen the functioning of the FSSAI. The amendments will be mainly to bring regulation of animal feed industry under FSSAI, thereby extending its jurisdiction over animal feed. Till now the apex regulatory body had powers on food industry only. Apart from animal feed industry, the government has also decided to specify standards for “food contact material”, which implies that there will be specification of standards for food packaging material.

Proposal to make the Act stricter is another feature in the amendment, which includes raising the penalties imposed for violations, covering manufacture and sale of unsafe food, adulteration of food causing death, carrying out business without license and repeated offences. The amendment proposes enhancing maximum fine for manufacturing and sale of unsafe food from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 3 lakh. Government has introduced a new section to define penalty for adulteration of food causing death or grievous hurt. So in future if any unsafe food causes harm affects to human health, the FSSAI can extend the punishment to even life imprisonment. The move comes six years after the Modi government had withdrawn a similar Bill introduced by Congress-led UPA in Rajya Sabha six years back, i.e. in February 2014. The NDA government had withdrawn the bill, after a Cabinet decision in December 2014 and decided to bring a more comprehensive Bill to address the underlying issues. Suggestions on the newly proposed draft Bill have been invited as well. Considering the ongoing pandemic, this decision should be a welcome move for the Agriculture Sector on the whole. 

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