1. Whether the food supplies will be available during the period of complete lockdown?
Answer: Yes, Ministry of Home Affairs vide order no 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated 26.03.2020 has issued directions in reference to the complete lockdown, that supplies of essential commodities such as food supplies, medicines etc. will continue to take place with proper precautions.
Moreover the Central Government has also come up with ‘Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana’ under which individuals benefited of subsidized public distribution will be receiving grains and other food supplies.
FOOD PROCESSING INDUSTRIES
2. Whether the Ministry of Food Processing Industries has issued any Circular/Notification/Order to address the pandemic of COVID-19?
Answer: Yes, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries vide Press Release ID: 1608340 dated 26.03.2020 has directed to a set-up of a Grievance Cell to ensure hassle free operations and uninterrupted supply of essential for citizens.
A Business Immunity Platform is set-up to help and support the businesses and investors.
ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES ACT, 1995
3. Under which law or rule, food is considered as essential commodity?
Answer: As per Section 2A of Essential Commodities Act, 1955 provides that Essential Commodity includes those enumerated under Schedule I of the Act. The Schedule to the Act include food as below;
iii) foodstuffs, including edible oilseeds and oils;
FOOD & RETAIL SECTOR
4. Whether there is any notifications/circular/order issued by the Government to include food shops and retailers under essential commodities?
Answer: Yes, as per the Ministry of Home Affairs vide order no 40-3/2020-D dated 24.03.2020 has included shops, ration shops, which are dealing in food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, and other food products also as essential commodities during the lockdown.
Specific directions are also provided to district authorities to encourage home deliveries in view of COVID-19.
FOOD RETAIL SHOPS – HYGIENE ASPECT
5. Whether the employees, such as cashiers, cleaning personnel, in food retail shops are mandated to use on face masks, hand gloves and hand sanitizers?
Answer: Per se, explicitly there is no guideline however these are advisable to prevent the employees who come in contact with customers and also to maintain hygiene during such testing time of infections.
Further, hand sanitizers should be also kept to contain such outspread.
6. Whether there are any notification/circulars/orders to allow the ordering of food products through e-commerce operators?
Answer: Yes, as per the Ministry of Home Affairs vide order no 40-3/2020-D dated 24.03.2020, the online essential commodities providers will be available during the lockdown period.
However situations might arise in the current scenario that due to limited resources the delivery schedule might fluctuate.
DISTRIBUTION OF ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES
7. Whether Government has released any procedure/guidelines for distribution of essential commodities?
Answer: Yes, the Ministry of Home Affairs vide order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated 26.03.2020 issued a Standing Operating Procedure (“SOP”) for maintaining supply of Essential Goods.
Under the SOP government allows operations of suppliers of essential goods including restaurants for home delivery, warehouses and go downs for storage of essential goods, Transporters/drivers, etc. for transfer of essential goods from manufacturers to retailers.
IMPORT CLEARANCE & TESTING LABS
8. Whether Import clearance and Food Testing Labs are classified as essential services by FSSAI during the COVID-19?
Answer: Yes, Food Safety Standards and Authority of India vide Press Release dated 31.03.2020 has classified the import clearance of food items and functioning of notified food testing laboratories (including National Food Labs) under Essential Services during the COVID-19.
It also directed all personnel who are assigned charged to be required to be available in office on all working days in order to facilitate the trade as well as ensure smoother operation of related services across the country.
9. Whether there is any specific procedural compliance requirements issued by the FSSAI for Food Business Operators?
Answer: Yes, Food Safety Standards and Authority of India vide order no 15(6)2020/FLRS/RCD/FSSAI dated 31.03.2020 issued mandate procedure for application for FSSAI License/ Registration through online mode on FLRS and possess the 17 digit valid application number.
All the details shall be communicated to the commissioner of FSSAI by email by enclosing a FORM M with all the prescribe details which should be duly signed by the applicant.
FOOD BUSINESS OPERATORS
10. Whether there is any notification/circular/order for First Business Operators to cover them under the ambit of FSS Act, 2006 during COVID-19?
Answer: Yes, Food Safety Standards and Authority of India vide order no 15(6)2020/FLRS/RCD/FSSAI dated 31.03.2020 issued the directions to include the operations of Food Business Operators (“FBO”) temporarily under Food Safety Standards Act, 2006.
The directions by Food Safety Standards and Authority of India have also specified for the exclusions of Manufacturer’s from the relief provided in the aforesaid order for FBO’s.
TIME LIMITE BY FSSAI
11. Whether there is any notification/circular/order specifying the time limit for FBOs to cease the business post COVID-19 ?
Answer: Yes, Food Safety Standards and Authority of India vide order no 15(6)2020/FLRS/RCD/FSSAI dated 31.03.2020 issued directions specifying the time period for the FBO’s.
The FBOs has to cease there operations within 30 days from the date lockdown ends.
If the FBOs wants to continue their business then proper valid FSSAI license has to be applied by them.
FSSAI LICENSE REGISTRATION
12. Whether there is any notification/circular/order specifying the procedure for the processing of FSSAI License/ Registration during and post lockdown?
Answer: Yes, Food Safety Standards and Authority of India vide order no 15(6)2020/FLRS/RCD/FSSAI dated 31.03.2020 issued specific directions and detail procedure for the issuance of the License/ Registration during the time of lockdown and after pre-lockdown specifying the time period for the FBO’s.
It also consist of detail directions for the inspection and issuance of License/ Registration for the essential food and commodities.
ISSUES AWAITING ADDRESSAL DURING COVID -19
AMLEGALS is a multi-specialised law firm. We would love to hear your views, queries, feedback and comments on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this document is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal opinion, advice or any advertisement. This document is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or corporate body. Readers should not act on the information provided herein without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the facts and circumstances of a particular situation. There can be no assurance that the judicial/quasi-judicial authorities may not take a position contrary to the views mentioned herein.