To streamline its product approval process, food safety watchdog FSSAI will frame a new set of regulations in next six months, after the earlier procedures had to be scrapped following court orders, including in the Maggi noodles case.
According to sources, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will also seek assistance from the law firms and lawyers for framing of the new regulations, while opinion would be sought from the Law Ministry as well. The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has invited only those legal firms/lawyers who are not involved in litigation against the authority in any manner.
"In the light of recent judgments of various courts relating to food safety, FSSAI has decided to engage legal assistance for formulation of regulations on an urgent basis to govern (i) product approvals, (ii) imports, and (iii) procedures of issuing guidelines and administrative instructions," the regulator said in a circular.
The successful legal firm/lawyer would have to undertake to not enter into any litigation/ legal advice against FSSAI, directly or indirectly, on food related matters at least for a period of five years from the date of notification of such regulations, it added. FSSAI has done away with the process of product approvals, saying it is no longer possible to continue with it in view of the Supreme court order dated August 19.
Every endeavor will be made to expedite the regulations governing Section 22 products, it said. FSSAI has been issuing advisories for food products wherein the quality standards for their ingredients were not mentioned in Section 22 of the Food Safety Standards Act, 2006. Upholding the Bombay High Court order, the Supreme Court on August 19 had quashed an advisory issued by FSSAI on the procedure for product approvals, following which the regulator
had scrapped the product approval system. In a separate case on August 13, the Bombay High Court had quashed the FSSAI order of banning the nine variants of Maggi noodles in the country after observing that principles of natural justice were not followed.
During the period between March and June this year, FSSAI had received 4,357 manual applications, of which less than one-fourth (1,047) were issued no objection certificates, 348 approvals were pending, while 551 were rejected. The remaining 2,094 were closed for being non-responsive.