Foreign direct investment in the food processing sector is likely to go up by at least 25 per cent as Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) streamlines regulations to ease product approvals.
Union Cabinet Minister of Food Processing, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, said, “FSSAI had laid down quality standards for only 370 products. The regulators approval was a must for all other products. Now that the approval process has been relaxed, products with ingredients that are approved by the regulator may not require any approval, which will lead to more innovation and product launches and promote traditional food.”
“Our contention has all along been that proprietary food products, for which standards are not defined in the food safety and standards regulations, but have approved and standardised additives should not require product-by-product approval. This approach espoused by the food processing ministry has now found favour with the regulator,” Badal added.
Proprietary food means an article of food that has not been standardised under the food safety and standards regulations. FSSAI has also issued a notice for operationalisation of standards for proprietary food, under which the definition has been changed.
The proprietary food has now been defined as an article of food that has not been standardised under the regulations, but which contains approved ingredients and additives. From now on, such products may not require regulatory approval. However, the notice mentions that proprietary food does not include dietary supplements, nutraceuticals and genetically modified food products, among others. And the onus for the safety of food products will be on food business operators.
The regulator has also uploaded a list of more than 8,000 permitted food additives, the food items in which they can be used and the recommended maximum level.
“With these new regulations in place, the industrys concerns regarding product approvals will be addressed to a large extent. And I am optimistic that in coming months, there will be an increase of 25 per cent FDI in the food processing sector. Now, our efforts have yielded results. This will ease the process of doing and expanding business in the food processing sector” Badal futher added.
She added that the Food Processing Ministry has been repeatedly taking up all these issues with FSSAI to find a solution to the problems being faced by the industry. The minister had also written a letter to the prime minister in this regard. The minister also mentioned that clarity on import of the products and introduction of risk-based inspection system is a noteworthy step, which would remove clutter for importers and others.