Introduction
  • Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 was the first law that was passed by the legislation in order to promote food security in the country. It regulated the laws of the food industry along with six other laws:
    • The Fruit Product Order of 1955,
    • The Meat Food Products Order of 1973,
    • The Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order of 1947, The Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order of 1998,
    • The Solvent Extracted Oil, De-oiled Meal, and Edible Flour (Control) Order of 1967 and
    • The Milk and Milk Products Order of 1992.
  • However due to the transformation that Food Industry was going through at that time,The Food Safety and Standards Act was introduced in 2006. This law overruled  all the previous laws.
  • According to the data provided by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the food processing sector in India has received around US$ 7.47 billion worth of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) during the period April 2000-December 2016.
Objectives of the Food Safety and Standards Act in India
  • The objective of the food law is to provide safe, unadulterated, uncontaminated, and nutritious food to the public.
  • The food authority goes about a solitary window to give direction and issues explanation/advisory for all matters with respect to food security.
  • This Food Safety Act is an amalgamation of all the previously existing laws relating to food and to establish the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India for laying down science based standards for articles of food and to regulate their manufacturing, storage, distribution, sale and import, to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption.
  • The Indian food safety regulations, as implemented by the FSSAI, are primarily based on the Codex Alimentarius.
  • The Codex was formed with the collaborative efforts of the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, two distinguished United Nations health and food bodies. The Codex Alimentarius international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice contribute to the safety and quality of the food that reaches consumers.
  • Since the FSSAI regulations are framed on the guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius, they adhere to international standards.
Regulations for Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses in India
  • There are two types of licenses:
    • A central license, issued by the central government, and
    • A state license, issued by any of the state governments.
  • The central license is issued on the basis of manufacturing capacity, as well as turnover. Those operating food businesses within an Indian state need a state license that is also based on capacity or turnover.
  • Those that operate businesses in two or more states require an additional central license for head office/registered office and separate license/registration for other locations they operate in. Only transporters need a singular license/registration for all vehicles an individual transporter runs.
  • Those food business operators that deal with non-standardized products have to first apply for the product approval and only then they can obtain a license under the licensing and registration regulations. All importers and exporters have to obtain a central license from FSSAI.
FSSAI Compliance Criterion for Import of Food Products to Indiaa
  • Food articles imported to India from foreign countries and distributed in India need to conform to the FSSAI regulations or suffer restrictions on import. The FSSAI also has stringent regulations for packaging and labeling under Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling) Regulation, 2011.
  • For example, all chocolates, as defined in the Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulation, 2011are to be prepared from milk. They cannot contain any vegetable oil or fats. Labels need to mention artificial flavors used to comply with FSSAI regulations. If these guidelines are not adhered to then chocolates are not permitted to enter Indian markets.
  • For alcoholic beverages, FSSAI stipulates that all ingredients, including additives need to be mentioned on labels in descending order of their composition by weight and volume.

FSSAI compliance criteria for labeling of imported food include:

  • Language on labels must be in English as per FSSAI Regulations, 2011;
  • “Vegetarian” or “Non-Vegetarian” must be declared by affixing the symbol for “Vegetarian” or “Non-Vegetarian” on packages;
  • Mention name and complete address of the importer in India;
  • Mention net weight or number or measure of volume of contents;
  • Mention batch number or lot number or code number, and FSSAI license number;
  • Mention month and year in which the commodity is manufactured or prepared;
  • Declare “Best Before” date on the package;
  • Mention nutritional information or nutritional facts per 100 grams or 100 milliliter per serving of food product on the label;
  • Name and address of the manufacturer should be mentioned on the label and FSSAI logo and license number of the importer should be available on the label.
Penalties for Food Safety and Standards Act

The FSSAI Act, prescribes the following penalties for offences by companies – Private Limited Company

Public Limited Company

  • Where an offence under this Act which has been committed by a company, every person who at the time the offence was committed was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
  • Provided that where a company has different establishments or branches or different units in any establishment or branch, the concerned Head or the person in-charge of such establishment, branch, unit nominated by the company as responsible for food safety shall be liable for contravention in respect of such establishment, branch or unit:
  • Notwithstanding anything in sub-section (1), where an offence under this Act has been committed by a Company and its is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of or is attributable to any neglect on the part of any Director, Manager, Secretary or other Officer of the Company, such Director, Manager, Secretary or other Office shall also be deemed to be guilt of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Carrying out a business without FSSAI license

  • If any person or food business operator (except the persons exempted from licensing under sub-section (2) of section 31 of this Act), himself or by any person on his behalf who is required to obtain license, manufacturers, sells, stores or distributes or imports any article of food without license, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months and also with a fine which may extend to five lakh rupees.

Selling food/commodity of inferior quality

  • Any person who sells to the purchaser’s prejudice any food which is not in consent with the provisions of the Act or the regulations made there under, or of the nature or substance or quality demanded by the purchaser, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five lakh rupees. Provided that the persons covered under sub-section (2) of section 31, shall for such non-compliance be liable to a penalty not exceeding twenty five thousand rupees.

Sub-standard food

  • Any person who whether by himself or by any other person on his behalf manufactures for sale or stores or sells or distributes or imports any article of food for human consumption which is sub-standard, shall be liable to a penalty which may extend to five lakh rupees.

Misbranded food

  • Any person who whether by himself or by any other person on his behalf manufactures for sale or stores or sells or distributes or imports any article of food for human consumption which is misbranded, shall be liable to a penalty which may extend to three lakh rupees.
  • The Adjudicating Officer may issue a direction to the person found guilty of an offence under this section, for taking corrective action to rectify the mistake or such article of food shall be destroyed.

Food containing extraneous matter

  • Any person whether by himself or by any other person on his behalf manufactures for sale or stores or sells or distributes or imports any article of food for human consumption containing extraneous matter, shall be liable to a penalty which may extend to one lakh rupees.

Unhygienic or unsanitary processing or manufacturing of food

  • Any person who, whether by himself or by any other person on his behalf, manufactures or processes any article of food for human consumption under unhygienic or unsanitary conditions, shall be liable to a penalty which may extend to one lakh rupees.

Unsafe food

  • Any person who, whether by himself or by any other person on his behalf, manufactures for sale or stores or sells or distributes or imports any article of food for human consumption which is unsafe, shall be punishable:
    • Where such failure or contravention does not result in injury, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months and also with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees;
    • Where such failure or contravention results in a non-grievous injury, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and also with fine which may extend to three lakh rupees;
    • Where such failure or contravention results in a grievous injury, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six years and also with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees;
    • Where such failure or contravention results in death, with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and also with fine which shall not be less than ten lakh Rupees.

Deceptive Advertisement

  • Any person who publishes, or is a party to the publication of an advertisement, which–
    • Falsely describes any food; or
    • Is likely to mislead as to the nature or substance or quality of any food or gives false guarantee, shall be liable to a penalty which may extend to ten lakh rupees.
  • In any proceeding the fact that a label or advertisement relating to any article of food in respect of which the contravention is alleged to have been committed contained an accurate statement of the composition of the food shall not preclude the court from finding that the contravention was committed.
Compensation in case injury of death of consumer in India
  • If any person whether by himself or by any other person on his behalf, manufactures or distributes or sells or imports any article of food causing injury to the consumer or his death, it shall be lawful for the Adjudicating Officer or as the case may be, the court to direct him to pay compensation to the victim or the legal representative of the victim, a sum—
    • Not less than five lakh rupees in case of death;
    • Not exceeding three lakh rupees in case of grievous injury; and
    • Not exceeding one lakh rupees, in all other cases of injury.
  • Provided that the compensation shall be paid at the earliest and in no case later than six months from the date of occurrence of the incident. Provided further that in case of death, an interim relief shall be paid to the next of the kin within thirty days of the incident.
  • Where any person is held guilty of an offence leading to grievous injury or death, the Adjudicating Officer or the court may cause the name and place of residence of the person held guilty, the offence and the penalty imposed to be published at the offender’s expense in such newspapers or in such other manner as the Adjudicating Officer or the court may direct and the expenses of such publication shall be deemed to be part of the cost attending the conviction and shall be recoverable in the same manner as a fine.
  • The Adjudicating Officer or the court may also,—
    • Order for cancellation of license, re-call of food from market, forfeiture of establishment and property in case of grievous injury or death of consumer;
    • Issue prohibition orders in other cases.