The Food Processing Industry (FPI) is of enormous significance as it provides vital linkages and synergies that it promotes between the two pillars of the economy, i.e. agriculture and industry. India is the world’s second largest producer of fruits & vegetables after China but hardly 2% of the produce is processed. The Food Industry/Sector in India is one of the biggest industries in terms of Growth and Employment having huge potential for uplifting the economy. India is the second most populous country in the world and one of the world’s biggest and fastest growing economies. Established in 2006 by the Food Safety and Standards Act, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare of Indian Government. Headquartered in Delhi, FSSAI’s main objective is to lay science based standards for food articles and “regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption”.

Analysis of corporate datashows that food processing firms have been profitable, but the value addition component needs to increase significantly.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a Pandemic disease as declared by World Health Organization (WHO) and was identified in Wuhan, China, and is now being spread throughout the world.

Various Ministries issued guidelines and relaxation in Corporate Filings and also stated various reforms under various Laws including Food Laws.

> Relaxations to the FBOs due to Covid-19 Pandemic

Regulatory Compliance Division of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) vide circular No. 15(6)2020/FLRS/RCD/FSSAI dated  has decided to facilitate the FBOs and ensure ease of doing business by providing following relaxations due to spike in the cases related to the Covid-19 Pandemic in exercise of powers conferred under section 16 (5) of Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act 2006:

Note: The below stated relaxations shall cease w.e.f. 30.06.2021 irrespective of the status of lockdown/ curfew/ containment at any location.

Sl. Relaxations Impact of Relaxations
 

 

 

 

1

Permission to temporarily operate food business (other than Manufacturers) on the basis of 17-digits Application reference number: a. All FBOs except Manufacturers are allowed to temporarily operate their food business on the basis of application.

b. Such FBOs shall be required to apply by making online application with prescribed fee through online mode on FosCoS and possess a valid receipt of application having seventeen-digit application reference number.

c. FBO shall be required to inform by e-mail to the concerned Licensing / Registration Authorities/ Commissioner of Food Safety about commencing his food business enclosing a scanned copy of the application in Form M enclosed.

d. The same needs to be signed by proprietor/director/partners or a senior employee of the applicant.

e.  The contact of details of Commissioner Food Safety is available at Click Here

f. The said relaxation is available to only to those applicants who have the requisite permission from State/ relevant local authorities to operate in the lockdown/restrictions/ curfew etc. The FBO shall cease his operations at the premises relatedto food unless he has obtained a valid FSSAI licence/ registration as applicable, within 30 days after the expiry of this relaxation.

2. In case of Manufacturers, they are allowed to operate their food businesses with higher capacity, on the basis of application for modification of License: Such FBOs shall be required to apply for modification of FSSAI license by making online application with prescribed fee through online mode on FoSCos and possess a valid receipt of application having 17-digits application reference number.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.

Limited Inspections and e-inspections allowed: a. No pre-inspections are required for issuance of new FSSAI license registration except in case of manufacturing of high risk food product viz. Milk and milk products, slaughter houses, meat and meat products etc.

b. Similarly no routine inspections are required to be done.

c. However, food safety authorities can conduct e-inspections in case of select cases on basis of risk profiling eg milk and milk products, slaughter houses, meat and meat products etc or in case of any food emergency/ incidents and complaints as per the existing provision of FSS Act, 2006, rules and regulations made thereunder.

 

 

 

 

 

4.

Extension for timeline for submission of online Annual Returns through FoSCoS
  • The timeline for submission of online annual yearly returns (D-1) for the period 2020-21 due for submission on or before 31st May, 2021 has been extended till 30th, June 2021.
  • The same has to be filed mandatorily through online mode i.e. through Food Safety Compliance System, FOSCOS (for detailed instructions, refer FSSAI order number 15(31)2020/FoSCoS/ RCD/FSSAI dated 18th Dec 2020).
5. Waiver of late fee for renewing the license: a. It has been decided to waive offthe late fee, in case, renewal of license is not applied as early as 30 days before the expiry of license [refer Regulation 2.1.7(2) and 2.1.7(4) of FSS (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations 2011].

b. This late fee ranges from Rs. 100 to Rs. 3000. No late fee for renewal of Licenses shall be charged till 30th June 2021, i.e. no late fee for renewal application (as stipulated under the said regulation) will be charged for licenses, if filed on or before 30th June 2021.

c. As the process for renewal of license and registration is completely online and renewals can be filed as early as 180 days prior to expiry of license and registration, food businesses are advised to file the renewal application well in time to avoid expiry of their licenses and registrations and causing unnecessary hassle to themselves.

d. It is clarified that the late fee applicable on renewals applied after 30h June 2021 will be charged as per the provisions in FSS (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulations 2011.

6. Extension of tenure of Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies recognized by FSSAI forverification of Hygiene Rating of Food Establishments- Keeping in view the challenges being faced by the industry due to Covid-19 pandemic, theCompetent Authority has decided to further extend the validity of following Hygiene Rating AuditAgencies (HRAAs) for a further period of three months w.e.f. 01.05.2021 (i.e from 01.05.2021 to31.07.2021).

Notification Link: Click Here

Compliance Mechanism under FSSAI

Mandatory Compliance w.e.f. 1st April 2021

Online submission of Annual Returns on Food Safety Compliance System (FOSCOS – https://foscos.fssai.gov.in) shall be made mandatory for food businesses involved in manufacturing and importing of food products, wef FY 2020-21 (window for return filing for FY 2020-21 will open wef 1st  April 2021 onwards).

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Disclaimer:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Every effort has been made to keep the information cited in this Newsletter error-free. Suggestions and feedback to improve the task are welcome. The article, information and opinions therein are based on my understanding of the law and provisions prevailing as on date. The contents of this newsletter are for information purposes only and do not constitute an advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It should not be relied upon as the sole basis for any decision which may affect you or your business. In no event the author shall be liable for any direct, indirect, special or incidental damage resulting from or arising out of or in connection with the use of this information.

The author can be approached at[email protected].// +918802581290 (W).

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