The Union ministry of health has approved a list of around 12,000 standards for additives and ingredients.
The standards were formulated by the scientific panels and committees of the apex food regulator – FSSAI. The move is part of the process of harmonisation of Indian standards with that of Codex, the international standards.
Talking about the benefits of the move, one senior official with the FSSAI, states,“It will be helpful in absence of national standards and will orient standardised process of food safety, overall development of consumer safety, facilitate export to developed markets, equivalence and facilitation of traceability process. Further it would help to monitor imported food, as well.”
It may be noted that in the absence of appropriate standards, obtaining Product Approval from FSSAI for new and innovative products had been a tough task for both food manufacturers and importers in the last two years, resulting in losses of several crores.
Meanwhile, a senior official with Union ministry of health, elaborates,“More than 11,000 standards for food additives and ingredients were approved and the process to notify them is on.” The official added that the draft would be notified in the next 15 days.
Some 67 electronic working groups have been entrusted the work of harmonisation of standards. Some 49 are for vertical standards related to commodities like fruits and vegetables and their products, milk, fish and meat products, cereals, spices etc. while 18 are for horizontal standards related to microbiological contaminants, antibiotics and veterinary drugs, heavy metals, MRLs, pesticide residues and so on.
The move is expected to benefit food companies as they would not be required to seek Product Approval, if they comply with the standards. At present, there are 377 standards which have been approved under the previous PFA Act for food items but none for food additives and ingredients.